Category Archives: Dr. William Glasser

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.

what

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.

[ File # csp5768126, License # 1532178 ] Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php) (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / Kurhan

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. ]

Mental Health Characteristics

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted 11/5/13)

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.”

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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.

The Whisperer

By Mike Rice (Originally posed 1/9/14)

Long before I ever become, or even considered, being a therapist, I had always been extremely interested in animal behavior.  I couldn’t get enough of the Nature and animal television shows.  I would marvel how easy it is for different animals to merely be themselves.  They only had to behave the way their species genetically instructed them to behave.  They competed only for food, territory, and sex.  It seemed to me that humans often spend time trying to be something or someone they weren’t and would often fight over anything.

As the years passed, I began to realize that the main difference between we human animals and other animals it that we humans have a free will and the ability to choose our behavior.  Other animals do not have that advantage.

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About nine years ago, Cesar Milan came upon the scene as “The Dog Whisperer.”  I was amazed how quickly he could resolve conflict between dog owners and dogs in only a matter of minutes.  Years of experience had taught Cesar that the natural order of pack animals is that there is always a pack leader to keep the pack living, working, and playing in a social and homeostatic society.

Cesar also noted that if a person who has a dog does not assume the role of pack leader, then the dog will assume that role.  It’s the old adage that Nature abhors a vacuum.  What is missing in the dog’s world is the leader.  So the dog becomes the pack leader in the home and behaves in any way it desires within the range of dog behaviors.

Yet there are three other components to being a pack leader as a dog owner.  Many people fail to provide adequate exercise for their dogs, much less take the role of a leader.  Cesar reports that those who have dogs must provide their dogs’ needs in the form of:

  • Exercise
  • Discipline

Affection . . . all of which must be provided in the order given.  He also states that people, all too often, use people psychology on their dogs and this fails miserably due to the pack leader thing.  They need to understand and use dog psychology.  Dogs don’t know your name.  They don’t know what you do for a living or how much money you make.  Nor do they care.  They only live in “The Now.”  They don’t dwell or even go back into the past nor can they plan for the future.  They can be involved in a ferocious fight and a few minutes later behave like it never happened.

Dr. Glasser often said, “If someone is behaving in ways in which you disapprove, the first person who must change is yourself.”  Cesar explained to dog owners that much of what they were doing were things that only perpetuated the unwanted behavior of their animals.  Once they learned different ways to react to their dogs, many of the animal’s unwanted behaviors ceased.  Sound familiar?

I then began to draw similarities of human behavior and dog behavior.  I have seen the proof of how ineffective people psychology is on dogs and while I can see how dog psychology can work on people, I don’t advise it.  It is too controlling to use on humans.  Yet we see it all the time.  So I turned Cesar’s highly effective Exercise, Discipline, and Affection requirements for dog owners around and substituted or added words for human psychology.

  • Affection
  • Exercise – the Seven Caring Habits
  • Discipline – eliminate the Seven Deadly Habits.

Doctor Glasser is the People Whisperer.

Updated Solving Circle

by Dr. Ken Larsen

I remember reading “Choice Theory” for the first time. One of the ideas Dr. Glasser presented was “The Solving Circle.”

I think it is time to revisit the teaching contained in the Solving Circle and apply that teaching to some of the contentious issues that have brought us to a non-shooting civil war in this country.

reconciliationThe context of the solving circle was to work with a couple who are having difficulties in their relationship. Let’s apply these principles to a country such as ours where our citizens are having difficulty in our relationships.

Dr. Glasser started out by asking the couple if they really wanted to work it out between them. If they were just playing at reconciliation, he suggested they not waste their time or his.

He would then suggest they draw an imaginary circle around the two of them. The next step is to recognize that there are three entities within the circle. There are the two parties in conflict with the third element being the relationship between them.

If they really wanted to work it out to recover or retain the relationship, he simply asked them to answer some simple questions.

To start, he asked them to briefly state what was wrong in the relationship.

Once this was laid out, he then asked them to tell him what was right in the relationship. What was good and attractive and the stuff that would hold them together.

He then challenged each of the two to do something in the coming week that would be supportive of the relationship. That would bring them closer together. This “something” had to be what each one could do on their own without depending on the other.

Then he asked them if they were willing to do something even beyond the one thing, to do something extra to enhance the relationship and makes the bonds a bit stronger.

His overriding guidance for this process was to have each one ask themselves the following question before doing anything. “Is what I am doing (or going to do) going to bring us closer together or drive us further apart?”

He then asked to revisit the couple in a week to encourage progress.

If we were to apply these principles to the divisive issues in our country, we would quickly be able to name what we perceived as being “wrong”. The challenge would be to look for and acknowledge what is right and good in our shared citizenship in a country such as ours. Do we want to have a relationship with our fellow citizens? If we cannot do this, we are indeed in a civil war.

Are we willing to do something to strengthen the bonds that hold us together? Are we willing to do that something on our own and unilaterally, not expecting anything from anyone outside ourselves? Are we willing to act on the challenge given us by President Kennedy? “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country?” Or have we grown too sophisticated and cynical to think in such simple terms?

Finally, are we willing to accept responsibility for understanding our responsibility for the common good of all of us by seeking to say and do things that bring us together rather than continue to drive us apart?

If we can apply these principles, I believe our personal and collective mental health and happiness will take a step up.

“Telling it like it is…???”

by Dr. Ken Larsen

I was talking with a friend recently.  He was telling me about his holiday experience with his ex-wife.  He was describing how difficult it was for him to get along with her.  He finally “unloaded” on her, telling her that as long as he was with her, he could not be civil.

That word “unloaded” struck me.  I’ve thought about it over the past few days.  What is being “unloaded”?  I can only speculate that it was his emotional load of anger and anxiety that was being dumped on his ex.

honesty-compassion

In a way I believe this is a “normal” reflexive reaction.  When we are hurt, our first reaction is often retaliation.  We express that reactive retaliation by what we consider “honesty”.  In our culture there is a certain value placed on “telling it like it is”.  But aren’t we all tired of the bad feelings and turmoil and conflict that results from reactively retaliating to a real or perceived hurt?

The tragedy is compounded when we realize the instinctive retaliatory reflex exercised by nation states as a primary weapon in our foreign policy arsenal.   Most of our international conflicts are the result of a commitment to “if you hurt me, I’m going to hurt you right back.  Only more.  And harder.”

If this is an instinctive reaction, what can we do about it?  One thing that we can do is to use our “metacognition.”  To think about how we are thinking.  To ask ourselves “is retaliation the best way to respond?”  There is an old cliché’, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”  We may not be able to change the direction of conflicting foreign policy, but we can change the way that we respond and relate to one another.

One of the foundational bits of wisdom Dr. Glasser gave us is the question:  “Is what I am doing (or going to do) bringing us closer together or driving us further apart.”  He challenged us to realize that we have a choice.  Do we want to fight or do we want to seek understanding?  Perhaps in this coming election we can look for those candidates who are willing to explore alternatives to retaliation as policy.

Mental health and happiness cannot co-exist with hostility.  We need to be thoughtful in how we relate to one another, especially when confronted with conflicting emotions.  Are we just reflexive reactors or do we have the power within ourselves to choose a better response to one another?  Not easy, to be sure, but is it doable?  I think it is, especially if we accept that we can make progress even though perfection is a bit elusive.

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?”

 

 

It’s not doing our best. It’s knowing what to do, and then doing our best

By Dr.Ken Larsen

Our friend, Bob Hoglund, publishes the quote in the above title on his emails.  It is from W. Edwards Deming, the management genius who is credited with guiding the successful reincarnation of Japanese industry following WWII.

whatThe first time I saw it I was not impressed.  Seemed a bit simplistic.  Through the last couple of years, however, I have had a chance to digest the wisdom in what Deming said.  I can see many ways that knowing what to do is more helpful than just struggling along in ignorance.

I could start with awareness of why we do what we do.  If we are blind to what is triggering our behavior, we are helpless to change it.  Putting forth energy and effort, “doing our best” is a non-productive approach unless we know what to do to change.  Much of knowing “what to do” is working to gain an awareness and an understanding of ourselves.  Dr. Wm. Glasser, author of Choice Theory, has given us a collection of insights that have been helpful to many of us.  He has shown us that it is what is going on inside of us that we need to pay attention to in our efforts to grow and change.

As we learn about the internal control systems that are operating in our central nervous system and in our ongoing experience of life, we can look at ourselves with understanding and make more effective choices as we seek to “do our best” in dealing with the challenges of life.  In this short blog I cannot begin to do justice to what Dr. Glasser has given us.

I would encourage those of you who have not read Choice Theory to reap the rewards of wisdom and insight that are contained within the book.  For those of you who have read it, there is always fresh insights that come from repeated exposure to the concepts.

I think Bob Hoglund and Deming are giving us a very useful insight that is helpful in our progress to mental health and happiness.