Category Archives: Choice Theory

Choices and Attitudes

By Mona Dunkin, CTRTC/LM

Who has not had an experience when your back was against the wall? What to do?  As with most things in life, the array of choices and attitudes are vast. In a rush-rush, worry-worry world one may become blind to options.

choicesThere is always a choice. Even in extreme limits, one always has a choice and can make things better or can make things worse. I find this insight effective in dealing with the clients at the sanctions center where I work. When they rebel against limits, I ask “Is there anything you can do to make the situation worse?”

Although coming from a negative perspective it seems to empower them to realize they are “in control.”

I continue, “Conversely, is there anything you can do to make the situation better.”

Reluctantly most agree that when their back is against the way they still have the power to make things better or worse.

Attitude is the deal-breaker. So what could possibly make a difficult, unhappy situation a little bit better? The key is attitude. Attitude comprises words used, tone of voice, sounds made, facial expressions, choice of clothing and body language. Without a word being spoken, a simple mental shift from rebellion to resistance is noticeable.  In most cases that shift if visible enough to effect a lowering of defenses so communication/negotiation can be re-established. Relationships are subject to change depending on one’s attitude.

Choices are empowering. When keys are misplaced, an initial response is “No!” That’s what’s known as denial. In a state of denial vision is narrowed, thinking is decreased and stress rises. A seemingly illogical decision to choose to accept the lost keys frees the mind to remember where they might be, activates the eyes to see rather than overlook and releases creativity to solve the problem. The choice of keeping a good attitude in the midst of an inconvenience frees you to have a good day regardless.

Choices can be crippling. Too many choices can have a negative impact. In a study of consumer purchases, a vendor offering six flavors of jam sold to 30% of those who visited his display, whereas the vendor with 24 flavors had only a 3% buy-rate. Too many choices can lead to a stalemate. Too many choices can become no choice.

Make your attitude your ally. This is done through the power of choice; if not of the circumstance, then definitely of your response to the circumstance. In those no-choice-back-to-the-wall situations, attitude can be a lifesaver.

The REAL Behind Reality Therapy

By Mona Dunkin

It is mind boggling to think that neurological science asserts that one’s brain cannot tell the difference in reality and imagination. Suppose you open a drawer and a tarantula jumps out.   You scream, run or faint, etc., only to later discover that someone played a prank with a rubber spider.

In the same vein, the brain cannot tell the difference from past hurts and current thoughts about those past offenses. Continual musing over hurts of the past is as if one is reliving them now. Today. In real time.

Since all of our body works as an integrated whole, the emotions stay stirred up in mentally and physically unhealthy and unhappy ways.

And that affects our body. And here we go ‘round the mulberry bush – only it’s not fun.

Old school is mental health is for clients to get in touch with childhood traumas and other past hurts and work through them.  What are the results? The results may or may not drag yesterday into today. The results may or may not lead to little to no change.  The results may or may not give spurts of relief with long term staying stuck.

New school for mental health and happiness via Reality Therapy is to live today today. Don’t wallow in the past. Live in the NOW.

Delve into your creative system for the real you just waiting to be unleashed. You know the one. The one without all that baggage.

choiceEngage your free-will and choose.  You may or may not experience a deep sigh of relief.  You may or may not be able to move past the past.  You may or may not have an epiphany that ushers in mental health and happiness.

But here’s the amazing thing. You get to choose.  So be good to you.

Self-evaluate your results. Continue when effective. Regroup and re-plan when not so effective.  Live. Laugh. Love. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Or at least it is new school for those of us who have been blessed to learn about Dr. William Glasser and his amazingly simple strategies for blowing the (often referred to and seldom effective) common sense out of the tub and replacing it with personal responsibility.

Reflection: Take Step Three: Illuminate your Path

By Debbie Cringe

The ability to self-reflect involves strategies that allow you to ignore negative emotion, chaotic mind-stories, bodily pain and illness, or to avoid making harmful choices. There are many strategies that people recommend: walking away from an altercation, finding someone to talk to about the problem, trying to arbitrate a problem among people and yourself. Some of these may have already worked for you so continue them! However, another strategy involves allowing the quiet and healed mind to use its wisdom to guide. Dr. Glasser’s Behavior Car is an excellent way to break a problem into pieces and evaluate the problem area – isolate your Thinking, Doing, Body, or Feelings—as you work towards solutions. This has been discussed in past blogs.

Another strategy is called PACE IT! The intensity of the bright lights help you focus on the smaller parts of a whole problem. PACE IT! Does this in four steps. (1). identify your problem or the action that precipitated your unhappiness. (2). look at the cause-effect relationships that led to the problem or action. (3). Identify which cause-effect line you would choose to change an action that would have allowed a different ending to the incident. (4). Write the action you would change and rewrite the new ending.

Download a template that guides this type of reflection.

Seeing connections between having, doing and being

by Barnes Boffey, Ed.D; Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… ww.alohafoundation.org

The thirst inside each us for happiness and peace of mind is not a thirst for things, no matter how spectacular they are, and the benefit of the action we take is not so much in what we do as it is the people we are when we are doing it. One person could give $100 to a charity and it might be an act of amazing generosity; a very well-to-do person might give the same $100 and it would be an act of penny-pinching.

“We can never tell what someone is doing by watching what they are doing,” said Bill Powers, and what he meant is that the being dimension of our actions describes us much more accurately than the doing dimension;  they are inextricably linked.

Once we understand that the ultimate goal of a human being is being human, we can connect the “having” and ‘doing” dimensions of our QW pictures to the “being” dimension and discover how all things and actions are reflections of our being human. The significance and the slaking of our psycho/spiritual thirst is in the “being.” As human beings we are given very general instructions: be loving, powerful, playful and free.  The hard part of being human is figuring out how to “be” those things in a world which most generally offers us choices about what we want to do and have.

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It takes work to keep our eye on the prize, the “being” component, but understanding how it connects with our “having” and “doing” choices is a big step. Some people make the connection by asking, “If I “do this” or “have this,” what does that say about me?” Who am I when I have these possessions and take these actions? We know the answer will be different for each person; Internal Control Theory teaches us that “nothing has meaning until we give it meaning.” Nothing makes us feel that we are a specific kind of person; we are the ones who ultimately make that decision for ourselves. Others can impose their values on our choices, but our mental health and happiness will be the result of the meaning and values we ascribe to our actions and possessions. If we search honestly and openly for the “being dimension” in our possessing and acting, we will ultimately be the creator of our own happiness and the arbiter of whether we are being loving, powerful, playful, and free.

“Would the loving person I say I want to be be doing what I am doing right now?”

“I say I want to be worthy; would a worthy person take the action I am about to take?

“Is buying this hat an act of playfulness or an act of fearing peer pressure?”

“The person I want to be knows that I need to spend more time on my paperwork.

If I don’t make that time, knowing what I know, what kind of person will I be?

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience,
we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

The Many Dimensions of Quality World Pictures

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

We generally experience our Quality World pictures in only one dimension.  Those dimensions include “things we want to have,”“ things we want to do,” and “things we want to be.” We tend to see these dimensions as separate, but in fact they are all simply partial reflections of multi-dimensional QW pictures whose dimensions exist concurrently all the time.  At all times, our QW pictures have all three of these dimensions — there is a “having” dimension, a “doing” dimension, and a “being” dimension.

Let me explain further. If we perceive one of our Quality World pictures as something we want to “have,” (for example, a new car), we should be aware that in general we want to “have things” because they allow us to do things. Having a car is a possession, but its significance may lie  in the fact  that it allows us to spend less on repairs (doing) or take trips more easily (doing) or be proud of the car we drive (being) or be thrifty by spending less money (being).

Everything we want “to have” gains its important because it allows us to do something; everything we want “to do” gains its importance because it allows us to be something; and everything we want “to be” gains its importance because it allows us to follow our instructions to be loving, powerful, playful and free.  Every Quality World picture exists in these three dimensions at the same time.

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Let’s try another example. Suppose someone tells us they want to “spend more time with their family.” This want presents itself in the “doing” dimension, but also exists as “something we want to have” and “something we want to be.” If we were to ask that person what is important about spending time with their family, they might say, “because it allows me to be a better brother,” or “to be more connected with people I love.” If we want to discover the “having dimension,” we would ask the question, “If you want to spend more time with your family, what would you need to have to do that? They might say, “a better work schedule, (have) and more commitment (have).

If someone says I want to “be more spiritual,” we can explore the “doing dimension” of that QW picture by asking, “If you were being more spiritual, what would you also be doing?”  “Well,” they might say, “I’d be meditating more (doing) and reading the two books I have by my bed” (doing).  To explore the “having dimension” we would then ask, “If you want to do that, what do you need to have to be able to do that?” “More time,” (having), more self-discipline” (having) and “a conversation with my wife.” (the conversation is actually a “have,” going ahead with the conversation is a “do.”)

The significant take away from this piece is that all QW pictures exist concurrently in many dimensions. Why that is important needs to be the next topic we face.

Types of Quality World Pictures

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

 

 At this point it will probably be pretty obvious what I mean when I refer to types of Quality World pictures. I think there are two basic types: a) “Pictures of how I want the world to be which will still allow me to be who I am today,” and b) “Pictures of me being the person I want to be (probably involving changing who I am today) when the situation does not match what I want.”

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Based on experiences in our lives, we select from all that we have seen certain of those that represent to us the highest quality that we can imagine at that moment. We choose, both consciously and unconsciously, pictures of people, places, things, activities and qualities which we believe are both our ideals and our best chance of being loving, powerful, playful and free. Implied in these pictures is the basic belief that we can actualize these blueprints without having to change much about who we are.  I call these “Ideal World – Actual Me pictures. Because we live in a world dominated by the thinking of external control psychology, we may also ascribe the things we choose with the supposed power to “make“ us happy. The underlying assumption is that if I can get what I have selected as my ideal pictures, I will definitely be happy. The reality is that no external picture can “make” us happy, but the road we follow to achieve it may lead to our being happy when we get there.

As I have mentioned, we often put too much energy into pictures of the way we want the world to be. If those are the predominant pictures we create, we actually reduce our chances of mental health and happiness. To open the doors to mental health and happiness, we need to have a lot more pictures of us being the people we want to be regardless of whether we get what we want or not. We should develop pictures of both what our ideal job looks like as well as pictures of how we can be happy in a less than ideal job. We can have pictures of the college we want our kids to go to, but we should also have pictures about how to be supportive parents if our children choose another direction. I call these pictures “Actual World – Ideal Me” pictures. If we don’t have them, we get too attached to specific outcomes and we start having to exert varying degrees of control over the people in our lives to guarantee those outcomes; that coercion often leads to the destruction of relationships.

To maintain a healthy balance between both types of pictures, we should constantly be asking ourselves, “What would I ideally like to see happen in this situation?” AND “If I were the person I wanted to be, how I would handle it if this situation does not turn out as I hope it will? We are then free to live our lives without fear of reality… we can imagine being happy with the outcomes we want, and we can imagine being happy if things don’t turn out our way.

Skills & Courage-Further necessities for change

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

Let’s assume we have done some good work with ourselves or someone we are trying to help and we have created some accurate and acceptable blueprints which we/they now can envision as both possible and effective in allowing us/them to be loving, powerful, playful and free. We will talk about the layers and levels of these blueprints once we look at the basic necessities for change.

The second challenge we have to face after creating effective blueprints is the question of whether we have the Skills to create these. I may have a great idea of the relationship I want to have with my spouse, but I realize that to have that relationship, I would need skills I do not currently possess. I might realize that to have that kind of relationship I would need to be able to tolerate a level of anger or upset I never learned to feel safe about. Or I might need to be able to have difficult conversations with my spouse with about topics I have always felt uncomfortable talking about. Or I might have to learn to simply say, “I’m sorry.”

If I don’t have the skills necessary, I will have little chance of attaining my picture of the relationship I want. Once I have a suitable blueprint, I need appropriate skills. Like a carpenter who has never worked with certain materials before, he will need to learn new skills if the building’s blueprint calls for it as part of the design.  

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The final basic necessity I want to mention is Courage. Without Courage we can never face the changes we need to make and we will keep backing off from taking the final steps. One of my favorite questions for clients in this stage is,” Do you really not know what you need to do, or do you know what you need to do but are afraid to do it?” A remarkable number of people say, “Yeah, I know what to do but I’m really scared.” If we don’t face the issue of Courage directly, we will most likely short circuit the process at some earlier stage by pretending we don’t really know what we want or by adding endless “Yeah, buts” to every step we are about to take.

One of the most stunningly beautiful aspects of internal control psychology is that we know how to help people change their emotions. We know we can help create the Courage they need, not by directly changing how they feel, but by changing what they do and what they think (Glasser’s concept of total behavior.)  We can help people develop the Courage they need to use their new Skills to work toward their Design of a new and better life.

All three are crucial: Design, Skills and Courage. Knowing that before we attempt to change ourselves or help others change gives us a big jump in the process and can avoid a lot of ungrounded and unfocused activity.

 

Design-The #1 Necessity for Change

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

Before exploring types and dimensions, I want to offer a more basic view and review of what is happening in this process of change, and especially the process of changing pictures. We create pictures in our Quality World because we believe they are our best chance of being able to follow our psycho/spiritual instructions (Glasser calls them needs) to be loving, powerful, playful and free. These pictures don’t have to be real, moral, correct, accurate or attainable; they are just our pictures and the best we know how to create at the time.

If we want to help someone change, we have to know what pictures/blueprints they have at their disposal. If they don’t have blueprints that will be effective, flexible and realistic, they will have little chance of changing in ways that will allow them to be happy. To help people change there are three necessities without which it cannot work: A Design, The Skills and The Courage.

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If someone wants to change, the first step in the process is creating an attainable picture/blueprint of what they want the “the world” and themselves to look like in the future. This involves the process of Design. We have to create an image of the future that we want; we have to give our brain a blueprint with which to work or it will be like a carpenter building a house with no plan in front of him. We have to help people design the world they’d like to live in and the people they’d like to be in that world. If we cant imagine it, it is almost impossible to attain it.  Here is where the question “Can you imagine…? “becomes crucially important.

Suppose we have a struggling fourth grader we are trying to help, and we ask him, ”Do you want to be successful in math?” If he says “No,” we have another path to travel, but if he says “Yes” or “I don’t know how,” a question which should be asked relatively soon is, “Can you imagine being successful in math?” Nine times out of ten the answer will be “No,” and what we know, that he may not, is that without that picture he cannot be successful. Before going any farther, we need to help him create an accurate and acceptable blueprint of himself being successful.

To a woman contemplating divorce, we might ask “Can you imagine yourself being happy in a life which includes you being divorced?” If the answer is “No,” we have lots of work to do at the Design and imagination step before proceeding further. If she can’t imagine it, she can’t make it happen.

The pictures we have; the pictures we need

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

Change can be very difficult, and one of the greatest assets of Internal Control Psychology, of which Choice Theory is one, is that it points out so many places in the process of behaving that we can impose some degree of control. We can indirectly change our perceptions, our emotions, and our physiology, and we can directly change our action, our thinking and the pictures in our quality world – the primary blueprints of our happiness.

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Most people are pretty clear about the concept of pictures in our quality world; they are the blueprints our brain uses to create our actual behavior. But what may be less obvious is the fact that if we want to change and flourish and be happy as human beings, we will need to add pictures to our quality world which we may not have yet, and which anyone who works with us will need to help us evolve.

Most people are overloaded with pictures of how they want the world to be – their ideal world. These blueprints are certainly worth having, but are only helpful when there is a chance of getting the world to match the pictures we have. The roots of unhappiness are grounded in situations where the world does not match what “we want,” and it is made even worse if the only choice we have is to keep going back to our ideal world pictures. In general, our ideal world pictures involve background thinking which sounds like this: “Here is the way I would like the world to be, and if it is that way it will mean I will not have to change to be happy.” Our biggest problems, however, involve situations where the world is not the way we want it to be and we are therefore forced to change if we are to have a good opportunity to be happy.

In the entries to follow, I will try to explain both the types and the dimensions of quality world pictures that we need to have if we are to maintain flexibility and resiliency in a world which is obviously not at our beck and call.

 

 

Sex in heaven?

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted 4/29/14)

I suspect that question got your attention just as quickly as it got mine. In the last century I opened a book by Peter Kreeft entitled “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven… “ As I scanned the chapter headings I came to the chapter with the question, “Is there sex in heaven?”

As I read the chapter the author pointed out a couple of interesting insights. One was that “sex” doesn’t start with what we do, it starts with who we are. He goes on to point out that the ideal in sexual connection is a form of ecstasy, which, in this case, is losing oneself in caring for the other.

He encourages the giving rather than the getting in intimate union, pointing out that our greatest happiness lies in getting out of self to care for others.

Dr. Glasser told us that “addictions, violence and unloving sex” were activities of those that were not getting what they needed in relationships. The opposite is certainly true. As we care FOR another, we find an enhanced sense of self-worth which boosts our mental health. The happiness that comes from knowing we have given deeply and intimately to another just makes life better for all.

After reading Kreeft’s book I gave a presentation to a group of physicians on this subject. To my surprise I received a standing ovation, which said to me that we are all hungry to learn more about how we can more deeply care for one another.

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After the talk a young Jewish Doc came up to me. She told me about her experience in Israel. She said that on Friday afternoons, the florists were very busy as men came in to buy flowers to take home for the conjugal celebration that is part of the Jewish Sabbath. Once again the focus was on the man caring for and serving his lady. [She recommended a book that I enjoyed, “The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage” by Maurice Lamm]

Mike Rice recently reminded us that Einstein, when asked about our purpose in life, answered “to serve others.” I believe this can be true in our most casual relationships all the way into our most intimate encounters with one another.

In closing, let me quote from Kreeft’s book where he suggests that a connecting and caring FOR sex life Is a foretaste of heaven on earth!

“This spiritual intercourse with God is the ecstasy hinted at in all earthly intercourse, physical or spiritual. It is the ultimate reason why sexual passion is so strong, so different from other passions, so heavy with suggestions of profound meanings that just elude our grasp. No mere animal drive explains it. No animal falls in love, writes profound romantic poetry, or sees sex as a symbol of the ultimate meaning of life…”

[For a Judeo-Christian view on human sexuality and the intimate relationship between God and humanity, read the “Song of Solomon” sometimes titled “The Song of Songs” In the Bible. ]