Category Archives: Control

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.

Are you willing? Are you ready?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

During one of my regular shifts in the psychiatric emergency room of a general hospital a patient arrived who was feeling exceedingly anxious and worried. He had experienced a number of recent life events contributing to his emotional state. And he added to his list of recent concerns by piling on more issues and challenges he had been juggling and trying to handle for awhile.

In my well meaningman2 attempts to be helpful I shared some very specific ideas and suggestions for some coping skills he could immediately start to implement. Simply taking some deep breaths and focusing on the rise and fall of his chest and belly should be a good and helpful start. These suggestions were met with an increase in his upset and anxiety leading to tears. Clearly I was contributing to his condition worsening.

Later it hit me. This fellow was invested in his upset and suffering. He was not yet read or willing to change.

I was reminded of my own personal experience years earlier. While washing dishes I was deep into an argument with my husband, even though my husband was not home at the time.

At some point I realized my ranting, raving and complaining was not helping me get what I wanted and needed. I even went so far as deciding a different course of action that would help me get what I wanted and needed.

I asked myself two important questions:

Am I willing to do something different?

          Am I ready to do something different? 

          NO!

This was the simple truth. Even though I had evaluated my present behavior as being ineffective, I was not ready or willing to give it up . . . YET!

The present argument was quite satisfying. I was able to express my feelings and desires without interruption. I could be right and righteous without interruption or contradiction. I would WIN this argument.

Later, I told myself, I would approach my husband and engage in a conversation where we could work toward compromise and mutually satisfactory solutions. Later I would be ready and willing.

Now I know better. Now I will still offer my patients some immediate skills and solutions to help them improve their sense of well being and settle their emotional upheaval. But first I will ask:

Is what you are doing now helping you get what you need and want?

Are you willing and ready to consider doing something different?

Respecting their present state of mind I will ask if they are ready, willing and wanting to move forward for greater Mental Health and Happiness.

MORE TIME

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

In the few months before my father’s death I had an unusual experience with time. My wristwatches and I didn’t seem to be getting along. I would put one watch on only to have it fall off my wrist later in the day. As I moved into different time zones another watch seemed to reset on its own volition. One watch simply stopped working all together.

After I had enough of these experiences I finally stopped to think and consider what was happening. “I’m running out of time!” This realization hit me like a ton of bricks. I immediately changed my plans. I re-prioritized my calendar and immediately went to my parent’s home for an extended vacation. 

And I changed my thoughts and words. “I have all the time in the world.”

waitingwomanI realized I wasn’t running out of time, but I was running out of the immediate opportunities to spend with my beloved father. Although he is no longer in this earthly plain, my strong relationship with my father continues. And yet, I’m so grateful that I paid attention and changed my focus and my energies of how and where I spent my time during the days and weeks of my father’s life. I don’t know if I was running out of time, but I did have all the time in the world because I made this happen.

How is your relationship with time? Do you spend energy trying to manage your time? How is that going?

The reality is that of course you can’t manage your time. You can only manage how you spend your focus and energy in the time we are all given. Time is the great equalizer because all of us, no matter our nationality, religion, color, gender, age, sexual orientation have the same amount of time. And time marches on.

Here is a different idea. How about if you change how you think and talk about time. Try your own experiment to see what effect changing your relationship with time has on your Mental Health & Happiness.

Here’s how you start. Listen and note your out loud thoughts, what you say, about time. Here are some possibilities:

            I’m running out of time.

            There isn’t enough time.

            We are going to be late. If we want to be on time we need to leave now!

            This traffic is going to make us miss our train.

            Our days are numbered. 

This is just a sampling. Perhaps you have your own unique thoughts or experiences as you rush through your day to try and squeeze in all you must during this day (another measurement of time).

Now make a list of how you think and talk about time. Instead of referring to time as a scarce and limited resource change to an abundant point of view.

There is more than enough time

            I have all the time in the world

            The world is filled with more time, more love and more peace.

            I can always make time for what is important.

            I arrive on time with joy and grace.

            This traffic gives me a chance to be grateful for all the time I have this day.

            I will make the most of all the days in my life.

Add your own thoughts, ideas and statements about time as an abundant resource.

The next time you hear yourself thinking or speaking about the scarcity of time switch to a statement from your list of time as an abundant resource. Now notice what effect this change has on your Mental Health & Happiness.

Bumper Cars

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted 6/9/14)

Human efforts to connect often have us bouncing off one another like bumper cars. Maybe that’s because of what Dr. Glasser calls “external control”. We have something in mind for the other person to be, and when we try to get close to possess what we want the other person to be, we bounce off. We bounce off because maybe the other person doesn’t want to be who we want them to be. They want to be accepted just for who they are. It is this acceptance of one another that may help us stop bouncing off each other.

Practicing Happiness

By Charlotte, Whellen, NBCT, Basic Intensive Instructor
Murray High School

I teach at the first Glasser Quality public high school in the world, Murray High School.  Not only do I teach English, but I’m in charge of teaching Choice Theory to everyone in the school: staff, students and parents. I work constantly to improve my own skills at making use of Choice Theory in my life, and I can see a steady progression in my ability to connect with those I love and to achieve an inner happiness from successfully meeting my needs without hurting those around me.

That said, I get many opportunities to see where external control is still lingering in my thoughts.  For instance, this past Friday, at our weekly Community Meeting, we were introducing some new students who have joined us for the second half of the school year.  The staff requested everyone to get up and participate in some icebreakers and some connecting games.  Most students leapt up and immediately began to participate.  However, there were some resisting students, who just wanted to sit on the sidelines. Our wonderful PE teacher, who had organized the games, gently herded almost everyone into the fray and they got up and got involved.  There was a happy excitement in the gym as new and current students intermingled and began to connect.

I was participating, too, when I noticed one boy lying against the wall, propped up on his backpack, with his hoodie pulled down over his face, seemingly asleep.  I walked over to see if he was okay.  He told me he was having trouble readjusting his sleep schedule since our recent snow days off and that he would be fine if he could just sleep there a few minutes.

At this point, I had a choice to make, but I was not aware of my choices.  I just allowed myself to move into “external control mode” and reminded him that he had made a commitment to participate and that everyone else was doing that.  I encountered immediate resistance.  He began to argue with me that I should be flexible enough to let him do what he wanted to do.  I told him that if he didn’t want to do this and didn’t feel well, that was not a problem, but he’d need to go check in with the nurse and see if she’d let him nap for a few minutes on the bed in her office.  Not surprisingly, I encountered more resistance.  I, also became resistant.  I didn’t raise my voice, or get excited (thanks to my practice with Choice Theory), but I didn’t move away from external control.

Luckily, the student did not insist, but he grumbled that this isn’t what Murray was supposed to be about and packed his stuff up and stomped off.  I went back to the games and later spoke with our astute  principal, Ashby Kindler, about the situation.  She, in true Reality Therapy fashion, asked me a question — how much choice does a student have about getting involved in an activity?

Since then, many more questions along those lines have occurred to me:   Is there ever any room for someone to just feel like watching?  Is watching not participation at some level?  How is sending someone out for not participating helping them learn to participate?  Did my interaction with the young man bring me closer to him, or push us further apart?

Both the young man and I knew that this situation wasn’t what we wanted.  He was blaming me for the problem and I was blaming him.  You might argue, in a way, that we were both right — he should have participated and lived up to his commitment to be actively involved in community meetings and I should have avoided external control and trusted that with time and creating as many strong connections with him as possible, he would eventually make the choice to get involved on his own.

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However, I have often heard Dr. Glasser, in his inspiring talks, refer to our habit of “shoulding” on each other.  I don’t believe he invented that term, but he explained that if we tell someone what we think they should have done, or tell ourselves what we should have done, we are using external control on them (or on ourselves) and damaging our relationships.  He asserted that if we could just become aware of whenever we were using that word, we would soon be able to think of new ways to get what we need without the “shoulding,” and without pushing those we love and need away from us.

I have found this to be superb advice for maintaining my own personal happiness and I teach all my students about “shoulding,” which, of course, they love because it sounds very close to another phrase they  enjoy, but which isn’t necessarily school appropriate.

I have written an email to the young man today, explaining my thoughts since our interaction and thanking him for his willingness to engage me in a discussion about the principles of our school.  I didn’t mention his own commitment to participate in community meetings as a Murray student because I have learned, finally, that his choice in this regard is his own and the happiness of our school community depends upon our each deciding to learn more and more choice theory and choosing to practice using it in our daily lives.

Between stimulus and response there is a space…

By Dr. Ken Larsen

Remember that quote from Viktor Frankl?  ““Between stimulus and responsethere is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”  I’ve been working on acting on this insight.  I’ve recognized that sometimes my response is more “reactive”, more of a knee jerk, reflexive reaction, such as the unkind words that tumble out of my mouth in a moment of minor road rage.  Or the quick judgmental opinion that comes to mind when I hear someone speak from values that I don’t share.  These unchosen reactions are a detriment to my mental health and happiness, not to mention the negative impact on others.

What I want for myself is to pause in that space that Frankl describes and choose my response based on a perceptive interpretation of what I want.    Do I want to dump a load of reflexive anger, or do I want to respect myself and the other enough to make a better choice?

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This is easier for me to think about and talk about than to actually do it.  What helps me is the growing understanding we have of how our brain has developed reactions to experiences that might be seen as threatening.  One of the most basic of these reactions is the “stranger danger” reaction.  When we encounter someone or something that is unfamiliar and unknown our first response is often self-protective.  This is not a bad thing.  This is part of our inherited survival instincts.  This first response is a “fight/flight/freeze” response which bypasses the pre-frontal cortex, the area of the brain where we make choices, and sets us up for a defensive or offensive reaction.  I think some of what we have labeled “prejudice” is this sort of autonomic reaction to an unfamiliar situation.  With this understanding, I believe we need to cut ourselves and others a bit of slack when encountering the unfamiliar.

I can learn to recognize a reflexive reaction and I’m finding that if I can find that “pause” place until my pre-frontal cortex comes on line, I can make a kindlier considered response which is more reflective of my chosen values to be respectful and to “live and let live.”

In our growing understanding of the development of our brain we can find a new freedom to choose a better way to relate to ourselves and others.  Rather than condemning what we now know as survival adaptations, like the reactive response to a perceived threat, we can learn to become more aware of what is reflexive and what is chosen behavior.  With that awareness we can focus our conscious attention on choosing behaviors that move us toward what we want.  The more we can fulfill those inner Quality World pictures that are our sense of what we want that will meet our needs, the more we will enjoy a higher quality of mental health and happiness.

Our world is a shared experience fractured by our individual perspectives.

Dr. Ken Larsen

I recently saw the quote in the title above and was immediately struck with the insight it contains.  Sadly, I cannot remember where I saw it.

I shudder to think of the seeds of murder and mayhem that have been sown because we have failed to look beyond our own perspective.  Dr. Glasser warned us that our efforts to control one another to do what our perspective dictates can have no good outcome.

JFK-quoteCan’t we see that we have as much in common as we have things that divide us?  JFK said it well, “…We share the same planet, breathe the same air, cherish our children’s future and we are all mortal.”

We also have the same needs for love, freedom, self-efficacy, fun and safety.  What we don’t have in common is a common point of view.   A “point of view” is simply a view from one point. If we would take a step back and realize that each of us sees the world differently we might be able to move closer by accepting one another’s experience of life.  I cannot see what you see and you cannot see what I see.  We can talk about those different perspectives and grow in our understanding of one another and the world, but we cannot make others see as we see.  Recognizing these differences offers an opportunity to enrich our experience of life by sharing and working together to get our needs met.  We have fought over our differences for far too long in the weary and bloody history of our species.  Evidence for this abounds in today’s news, and as I see the sad and tragic plight of so many of our fellow humans I remember Pete Seeger’s words “…when will they ever learn, Oh, when will they ever learn?”  Although we need to change the “they” to “we”.

Mental health and happiness depend on us getting along with one another and helping each other get our needs met.  In this holiday season with our plastic celebrations that Pope Francis has labeled “a charade” (because of the global strife and rampant human tragedy) can we let our awareness of our terrible inhumanity to one another move us toward a kinder, more thoughtful care for one another, and perhaps even closer to the angelic anthem of “peace on earth to men of good will?”

 

 

Take Your Life Back

26 Ways To Take Your Life Back When You’re Broken

pensivewomanThere’s an old, outdated assumption that time heals all wounds. But I believe this to be untrue. In the words of Dr. Phil, “Time doesn’t change us. It’s what we do with that time that changes us.” We are all more than capable of taking control back into our own hands when life knocks us down. It’s just a matter of doing so deliberately. Of making changes that will move us forward. Of finding a way to progress with purpose, rather than simply letting life knock us around into whoever we will become next. When you’re feeling lost and disheartened with life, here are 26 simple methods of taking your power back.

Read more: http://thoughtcatalog.com/heidi-priebe/2015/11/26-ways-to-take-your-life-back-when-youre-broken/

Crisis Intervention

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Do you know what to do during a crisis? The crisis can be as simple as an overflowing toilet, or as perilous as receiving life-threatening health news with many other possibilities in between.

Here are a couple of definitions for crisis. A crisis is defined as a time when we are faced with some circumstance, news, or event that we have never been faced with before. A crisis can also include being faced with an event, circumstance or news that is similar to a previous experience, but our usual problem solving and coping strategies don’t work to solve the problem.

If you’ve ever had the unhappy experience of an overflowing toilet then you probably already know how to cope. But what if your usual strategies and problem solving steps don’t work? Now your toilet continues to overflow, pouring out more and more water so that your bathroom begins to flood. If you don’t know what to do besides what you have already done and you still are not having success dealing with the water and impending flood then you are in a crisis.

The Chinese symbols for our single English word crisis are two side by side symbols meaning opportunity and danger. In other words, a crisis is a potentially dangerous time AND a time where opportunities for change are most pregnant.

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Normally when a person is faced with a problem that is not solved using their usual strategies, or a new problem needing some resolution and solution there is also an increase urgency to act quickly! This urge to DO SOMETHING NOW in fact can be counter-productive during a crisis. But it is hard for your logical mind to over rule you emotionally driven desire for quick action and positive results!

A crisis ends in one of three ways:

  1.               A person may be no better off, nor worse off once the crisis has resolve.
  2.              Or a person may be better off with improvement in herself, her life, or both once the crisis has resolved.
  3.              Or the quality of a person’s life may be worse following the crisis than it was before the crisis began.

Here are some simple (but not necessarily easy) steps to follow when you are faced with any crisis:

  1. SLOW DOWN! Take enough time to breath in and breath out for at least 30 – 60 seconds, telling your self to go slow. There are a few times and crisis when                       taking quick and immediate action is necessary. But there are far more problems         and crisis where there is enough time to go slower and slowly with more                           beneficial results and outcomes.
  1. Clearly define the problem. This includes clearly defining how the world would be if the problem was solved.

                                    What do you want? 

  1. List all steps you have already taken to solve the problem and have the world as you want it to be.

What are you doing now to get what you want? 

  1. Evaluate the effectiveness of these present problem solving strategies.

Is what Im doing working? 

  1. Brainstorm ALL possible additional solutions. Get help from wherever you can if you can think of no additional options.
  1. Choose the best options from the brainstorm list and make a plan to solve the problem and achieve your hope for results using other strategies and solutions.
  1. Evaluated the effectiveness of new plan.
  1. Repeat steps 5-7 until your problem is solved, or your crisis is resolved.

Aiming to resolve the crisis where you are at least as Mentally Happy & Healthy               as you were prior to the crisis is the minimal goal.

This simple (but not necessarily easy) process will help to solve many problems and resolve many crises. You can test this out by simply reviewing a recent problem that you solved or crisis that you handled. Aren’t these the very steps that you took?

Are you facing a present problem or crisis? Try following the above strategy and see if it actually is helpful.

There is one more blog to be written offering more ideas and help when dealing with a crisis or problem. This will include a few more strategies than this step-by-step process.

For now see if you can improve your Mental Health & Happiness by using your coping strategies to help decrease your upset enough to follow this process. Then follow these steps.