Category Archives: Choice Theory

Feeling Out of Balance and Centered at the Same Time Part 1 – Going Back to Basic Principles

by Barnes Boffey, EdD.; Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org


For many people, the recent election has provided a test of their capacity to stay centered and happy, especially given what they may see is a dire future ahead. There are, conversely, many who are ecstatically happy as they bathe in the belief that our next president will help them get what they want. In either case, this election has created more stress and contentiousness than any I can remember in my 49 years of voting.

It also means that many people who have been used to feeling powerful and in the “right,” may be feeling disconnected with their communities, their work colleagues and their fellow citizens. Many are feeling like “strangers in a strange land,” unable to connect with those around them and experiencing a true sense of being aliens in their communities. Primary responses to this have been angering, depressing, pessimism, and projecting deep emotions on events that have not happened yet. That coupled with the thought, “How could these idiots be thinking what they did?” leads to feeling very out of balance and in many cases, severely lonely.

The challenge seems obvious, “How can I maintain my center and a positive sense of being when I feel severely out of balance in the world around me?” Not surprisingly, this means we have to be ever more intentional about our actions in maintaining our mental health and happiness. It also gives us a chance to understand how Internal Control Psychology can be the foundation of this process. In the beginning, taking control of our emotional well-being means we have to remember a few foundational principles, as well as asking some very important questions of ourselves and others.

daydream3

The primary foundational principle we might be well to remember is that overall our metal health is determined by our ability to be loving, powerful, playful and free in whatever situation we find ourselves. If we cannot do that, we will be out of balance and likely blame the external situation for our unhappiness. It is easy to be loving in a situation where we feel supported and valued; it is much harder in a situation where we feel judged, alone and out of step with those around us. The same is true about being powerful, playful and free. If the world presents conditions in which we can easily be these things, it is easier to choose to create these emotions from the inside out. If we perceive our world as full of stupid people, or as a place where we can’t laugh because of how bad things are, or a place where we feel trapped as we see options shrinking in the future, we have to work much harder at following these psycho/spiritual instructions.

To be loving, powerful, playful and free regardless of the world around us, we have to bring to bear imagination, skills and courage.  In order to live in any environment, disparate or not, we must have accurate blueprints (pictures) of what it would look like if we were being loving, powerful, playful and free. We must move from the principle/values level to a more specific description of the actions, thoughts and emotions that we would be using if we were effectively following our instructions in that specific situation. Generalities are not helpful.

For example, if we have a relative whose political beliefs differ dramatically from our own, our initial choice of behavior may be anger, incredulity, judgment and disgust. We may feel these are totally appropriate given the situation, but if our goal is mental health and happiness, being “right” or focusing only on getting that relative to change their mind will be ineffective. Our first step in gaining balance must be creating a new blueprint which illustrates and defines for us what we would be doing, thinking, and feeling if we were being loving, powerful, playful and free at the same time that our relative continues to be who they are, not who we want them to be. This is the imagination piece.


How do we imagine a new vision of ourselves being in balance when we believe the world outside us is “wrong,” or crazy or unacceptable? This is very hard because we often don’t want to let go of our current way of processing things, and we probably won’t until the pain and ineffectiveness become bad enough to consider letting go, or until we realize that in maintaining our anger, judgment, and rigid behavior, we are becoming the very kind of person we have railed against.

The first step, imagination, means developing a vision of a balanced and happy self. We need a blueprint before we can create a behavior.  Being happy does not occur in difficult situations without a new level of intentionality in creating these blueprints. It means asking the question, “If I were balanced and happy, how would I be feeling in this situation?” The answer to that question will determine where we head next.

Let’s say for example, that our answer is “I’d be feeling strong, compassionate and detached (rather than infuriated, manipulated, out of control and judgmental). From there we have to create the thinking and actions that would accompany those feelings, and then act on those thoughts and actions whether we feel like it or not. One of the hardest parts in this stage is that we may be very attached to our ineffective behaviors; it feels unfair to us that we have to change when others are wrong. We may want to hold onto our “rightness,” and see how long we can get away with ignoring our basic instructions.

One thought that makes happiness almost unattainable goes something like this: “I need others to act in the ways I want them to act in order for me to feel the way I want to feel.” This way lies unhappiness. The road to true inner balance can only be attained in thinking, “I have the ability to create the emotions I desire in my life in spite of the actions of others. I don’t need to have others change for me to be happy.”

Next time: Part Two: Imagination, Skills and Courage

A Passion for Helping

Kim Olver, Counselor, Coach, Speaker, Author and Executive Director of the William Glasser Institute and William Glasser International.

fbposter_kimolver

Kim knew in 5th grade she wanted to be a helping professional when she grew up. How did she know so young? Many people in her class and older would come to her for advice. They came to her with their “boyfriend/girlfriend” problems or issues with teachers or parents. Kim had a gift and passion for helping others. Kim married a man she went to high school with even though they only began dating after high school. She knew marrying him would mean they would be living in their hometown forever. She was all right with that since it was a great place to raise children. They had two sons and life was good . . . until her husband was diagnosed with leukemia in 1994 and died 4½ years later.

Choice Theory helped Kim get through that dark time, his death, the subsequent challenges of parenting their two teenage sons alone, and managing the worry of her youngest son’s two deployments to Iraq. Now, her sons are married to wonderful women and they each have children of their own. Yes, that makes Kim a very proud, very young grandmother!

Today is Kim’s Birthday!  birthdaycake_sm

Learn more about Kim at our Mental Health & Happiness Summit, October 10th.


Register
 

Live Well, It Matters

by Barnes Boffey, Ed.; Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org
(Origininally published on May 11, 2016)

50th Anniversary Celebration
Las Vegas, NV July 23, 2015

wglasserWritten to honor the life and work of William Glasser, this reading is not one that we ought to be surprised about; every life sends the same reminder: 

Live Well, It Matters

Our lives are not exercises from school that have no relevance; they have the ultimate relevance. Our lives can damage other people; our lives can heal other people; our lives can nourish other people, and our lives can transform other people.  Our lives become the stars that others steer by, and if we live them well, the world will change.

We remember Bill Glasser because he was a wonderful person and a remarkable teacher. He had a powerful public persona as a speaker and was able to hold the attention of hundreds of people with both the simplicity and significance of his transformative ideas. He was also someone who could talk one-on-one with a client and minutes later have that person ready to face a world he had found so difficult to deal with only moments before.

Bill had amazing skills, but what inspires us is that he did the best he could with what he had been given, both in the time of his life and in the time of his death. He did what he had to do to maintain his dignity and integrity and to keep the beacon steady for those of us coming behind who needed him to be strong, and real, and honest and true.

Live Well; It Matters

Bill spent over 45 years creating a place where we could learn and change and be free of our victimhood. He absorbed the vision of his mentors and passed along the message “We can change the world with these ideas.” He participated in that mission with every fiber of his being, and he challenged us to do the same. I can almost hear him saying: Live Well; It Matters

If there were some other alternatives to dying, it would be different. We could plan for our final passage in life as though we were taking a vacation. Where will I go? What do I want to do when I’m no longer a living human being? The truth is that death awaits us all; that is BOTH the sad news and the joyous news.

Because it is true, our challenge as we face the future is to live in the light of the universe: being loving, being powerful, being playful, being free. And to live each day as one we can be proud of, to live each day as one we can cherish, and to live each day as one that will be remembered by others who look to us to learn how to live. That is the challenge that Bill Glasser leaves us:

barnesboffey

Learn more about Barnes at our Mental Health & Happiness Summit, October 10th.


Register
 

Loving What Is

By Dr. Nancy Buck

One of the biggest causes of mental upset and unhappiness comes from our own making. Every time we resist what is actually happening right now in real life we make our own distress and mental discomfort.

You wake up to discover that it is a rainy day. You were hoping for a sunny day to enjoy your morning walk. Boy that is annoying! You’re really trying to get into the habit of getting outside everyday to walk and quiet  your mind. And now you can’t go!

What a perfect evening you had planned. You and a friend were going to have a lovely meal together then go see a movie. You were really looking forward to this. But your friend calls to cancel at the last minute. Now what? You’re fun evening is destroyed. Can you ever rely on this friend to come through?

Oh my gosh. You realize you’re getting sick – again! How many colds does that make for you since the fall? Does your body ever cooperate? You’re really being conscientious, taking special care of your diet, your exercise, your work out routines. And still you keep getting sick.

These are just a few examples of what may happen when what we get is very different from what we want. Upset, frustration, anger and disappointment are not unusual feelings.

But remaining in this same emotional spot long after the disappointment is over then becomes a choice. And with that choice comes the persistence in resisting what is actually happening now. Ever heard the expression “What you resist persists?”

The longer we hold on to our upset, disappointment and frustration about reality not turning into what we planned and wanted the longer we will continue to feel upset, disappointed and frustrated.

What can you do instead? Accept what is.

How? Get curious and see if you can discover the “silver lining” in the new reality of what is.

Need better instructions to follow this idea? Watch the movie Silver Linings Playbook. The whole movie is about our hero learning to make the best he can from some unhappy, disappointing changes and challenges in his life. Once he begins to accept what is actually happening now in his life, he discovers unexpected silver linings!

Want to improve your mental health and happiness? Start looking for your silver linings in your disappointments. When you are open to the possibilities you are more likely to discover unexpected treasures.

 

Epigenetic and Choice Theory

By Mona Dunkin

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

chicken

 

The chicken and the egg are interdependent. The egg-laying chicken and the developing egg each have a viable part to play in the on-going production of breakfast and casseroles.

Here is another round-robin-riddle. Which came first, the theory or the theorem?

question

The developing-egg theory is, “I have a pretty good grasp as to what the outcome will be of my idea” (i.e. based on previous experience, the creative cook has a fairly good idea of how a newly developed recipe will turn out).  A loose definition of theory is it is a not-as-yet proven.

Encarta Dictionary defines theorem as “a proposition or formula in mathematics or logic that is provable from a set of axioms and basic assumptions.” Theorem is experiments getting closer to text-book-weighed-and-measured fact.

Boiled down, epigenetics is the science of gene/cell development. A 13-year Human Genome Project (HGP) involving scientists from around the world discovered that each individual cell in our body pretty much has a life of its own.

Epigenetic Scientist Bruce Lipton calls it “The Biology of Belief”; meaning that our cells turn-on or turn-off depending on what we believe.

lightswitch

 

“Sure, I would love to have a doughnut.”

 

And the whole body goes into pre-programmed operation. The brain values the delicacy, the mouth salivates to receive the morsel and the genes turns “on” to store fat.

“No, thank you, I’ll pass on the doughnuts.”

And the whole body musters strength to re-write previous programming. The brain values a nutritious salad, genes turn “off” to keep from storing fat – thereby improving your health – and your waist thanks you.

I love it when theory becomes fact.

Dr. William Glasser, founder of Reality Therapy, called it Choice Theory. Consciously or carelessly we choose how we behave…

  • which translates into having chosen what we do
  • which greatly influences how we feel
  • which is embraced/disputed by our thinking
  • which genetically becomes who we are – mentally, physically and relationally.

Always has. Always will. And now science is proving it.

 

The Five Basic Needs of Pleasure

By Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

The five basic and genetic needs for Happiness are Survival, Love and Belonging, Power, Freedom, and Fun.   These needs will almost always require a connection with someone else in order to both achieve and maintain.  As Dr. Wm Glasser asks:  “How happy and enthused would you be if you were playing golf alone and shot a hole-in-one?”  Your excitement would be short-lived at best.  There would be no one to share in the happiness of such an event, much less, confirm that you did, indeed, get a hole-in-one.

happy

Try as you might to get your friends excited about your accomplishment, you would get feedback such as, “yeah, right,” or “well good for you.”  There will be no shouts of joy or excitement because they didn’t see you do it and therefore, they cannot share fully in your emotion.  Your continued happiness would be the result of their excitement for you.  Since they weren’t there to witness the deed, all they can do is pat you on the back and say, “nice going.”

The paradox of happiness is that while no one can make you happy, happiness requires a satisfying relationship with those who are important to you.   The golfer who shot the hole-in- one did so on his own, but it would take someone meaningful to him to achieve happiness from his victory.   Had someone else been with him to witness the achievement, he would have surpassed pleasure and would have realized tremendous happiness.

When a person has exhausted all the skills they possess to acquire and/or maintain meaningful relationships, they begin to rely only on those things that they can achieve or do that does not involve another person.  The satisfaction they receive from these behaviors is what they wrongly perceived as happiness.   Pleasure is much more intense than happiness but it has one major drawback . . . it is short lived.  Pleasure diminishes almost as quickly as it is achieved.  Therefore, the behavior that creates pleasure must often be repeated several times to maintain the pleasure received.  Think of the mouse in the lab study that keeps pushing the lever over and over to get his dose of cocaine’s pleasurable feeling.  Happiness is not as intense as pleasure but it generally tends to last for days, weeks, months, and even years.

Five Basic Needs for Pleasure

Pleasure is usually attained without the need or involvement of anyone else or at the expense of another person.

  1. Sex (indiscriminant, self-serving, masturbation)
  2. Food, Alcohol, Drugs
  3. Isolating – detaching from others.
  4. Thrill Seeking – Adrenalin surges. Element of danger.  (Gambling, dangerous risks, Hunting, Torture, history of criminal behavior, video games, car racing, sky diving, bungee jumping,   BDSM, Catch & Release relationships, sex in public places.
  5. Reckless Spending

You don’t need anyone in your life to experience pleasure.  You DO have to have meaningful relationships in order to experience happiness.

Five Basic needs for Happiness,

  1. Survival
  2. Love & Belonging
  3. Power
  4. Freedom
  5. Fun

Once the 5 Basic Needs for Happiness are maintained, the need for Pleasure diminishes from compulsive behaviors to occasional behaviors, or total cessation, and will result in a happier and healthier way of living.

Emotional Realities

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted November 14, 2013)

One of the characteristics of mental health and happiness is getting our needs met in and through our relationships with caring other people.

Dr. Glasser describes these needs in a couple of ways.  One, from his first best selling book “Reality Therapy” he points out that we need to “Love and be loved, and to feel worthwhile to ourselves and to others.”

Later, when he wrote “Choice Theory” he listed our basic needs as “Survival, Love and belonging, Freedom, Power and Fun.”

bowlingballs

One way I meet my fun needs is by learning.  Recently I was reading a book entitled “The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine, MD.  One paragraph jumped out at me because it spoke to ways to grow closer to the ones we love.  Having a wife, three daughters, and five granddaughters, the more I can understand the female experience of life, the closer I can be in these very special relationships.

This is a quote from the book: “If she’s married or partnered with a male brain, each will inhabit two different emotional realities.  The more both know about the differences in the emotional realities of the male and female brain, the more hope we have of turning those partnerships into satisfying and supportive relationships and families.”

I highly recommend this book.

Choice Theory, Reality Therapy and Power Tools 

 

by Mona Dunkin 

All of us seek identity, significance, purpose and power. The power need is the need to feel important and to be appreciated for who we are and for what we do. The power need is met through confidence, being heard and understood, accomplishments and in the giving and receiving of service and respect.

Motivational speaker Les Brown has six “Tools to Reclaim Your Power” that I think applies to the continuation of Dr. Glasser’s life-changing Reality Therapy and Choice Theory concepts and legacy.  Using these tools will certainly contribute to mental health and happiness.  Here is my brief interpretation of Les’s tools.

  1. It’s possible. When you have an idea that will benefit self and mankind it is possible that you can implement it. If anyone else in the entire world has done something out-of-the-box, then it is possible that you, too, can do something beyond your current skill level, whether simple or exemplary.
  1. Its necessary.Once you begin the possible it becomes a need to carry through. Having left a place of safety it is necessary to broaden one’s comfort zone. It becomes a white-heat passion that must be fulfilled.
  1. Its you. Others may in time come alongside to assist, guide or carry on but initially the weight is on your own shoulders. It is dependent upon your own unlimited belief in yourself. It is you investing your time, your energy and your resources into a fledgling concept. It is you motivating you to keep on keeping on, to continue when everything within says, “Quit.”
  1. Its hard. An airplane needs resistance to fly. Mechanically – as well as physically and emotionally – it is not easy to overcome pull and drag in order to soar. It is not easy to keep up momentum when others may think you are crazy. It is not easy to get up after a seeming defeat. It is not easy to push for change in a complacent, smug, self-satisfied world. But it is doable.
  1. Its worth it. Your second wind kicks in, the goal is in sight and nothing will stop you now. The rewards, small and no-so-small, begin to collect and grow. You are filled with gratitude for what you have learned and how you have grown in the journey.
  1. Its finished. This is the most beautiful part. Even before crossing the finish line, your dream has taken on a life of its own and it will succeed in spite-of-you, with or without you. Your legacy is intact and will be passed on to future generations.

There has been a tremendous amount of momentum built over the last 85 years by Dr. and Mrs. Glasser, the Board of Directors, and all of the people around the world who have dipped into Glasser’s Choice Theory and Reality Therapy ideas. We have gained strength from them and have come too far to turn back now.  Let us be like Tim-the-tool-man-Taylor and add “more power” to our learning and “teaching the world Choice Theory”.

When inspiration calls, answer the phone and give it directions to find you. You have the tools.

Take Charge of Your Life

 by Mona Dunkin 

Noted Psychiatrists, Dr. William Glasser, suggests the term “mental health” be replaced with “responsibility”.  Responsibility is the ability to get one’s needs met without depriving others of meeting theirs.  When needs are unmet we feel unfulfilled and fail to live at optimum wellness. We are not taking charge of our lives.

In 1998 I attended a lecture given by Dr. Glasser in which he intimated that certain physical and mental maladies are chosen. I took issue with that; I mean, anyone who would choose pain and misery would have to be crazy!

He went on to explained our basic needs and how we are driven to have them met.  Our health – physical as well as mental and emotional – is dependent on how our body handles our actions, our thoughts and the way we feel about things.

This led me to do some deep thinking. I ask myself some hard questions: Was swallowing my anger inflaming my joints?  Was my anger not only harming relationships but also my physical heart and blood pressure?  How am I hurting myself?  I do not want to hurt others but neither do I want to harm myself.

I began to practice the genius of Dr. Glasser’s wisdom.  When we begin to lovingly notice our disconnecting habits of thought and actions we can then choose to turn our attention to matters that leads to greater health and happiness and improved relationships. Only when we come to a conclusion for our self are we willing to make changes or take charge of our own life.

Oh, and my health today? Thanks for asking.  Peace reigns, relationships flourish, business is good, movement is pain free, most meds have been cut in half and I am releasing weight every day.

How about you? Are you ready to take charge of your life?