Tag Archives: change behavior

The need to understand cause and effect

Dr. Ken Larsen

When I entered Dental School in 1961 the dental profession was not able to meet the needs of our population.  Dental disease (tooth decay and gum disease) were progressing more rapidly than the ability of the profession to repair the damage.

The lightbulb came on as many of us started to think about, talk about and work toward understanding the causes of dental disease so we could get ahead of the problem by preventing the disease.  How many dentists does it take to treat a disease that has been prevented?

As a profession, we shifted our focus from chasing the effects of disease, to understanding and dealing with the causes.

People still suffered from dental disease, but more and more people began to understand that disease was optional, not inevitable. 

cause-effectThe key, of course, was to understand and control the causes of the disease.  This required new learning and changing behavior.

As you may have noticed, changing habitual behavior patterns is not easy.  Our efforts have largely paid off for those of our patients who accept their responsibility to learn to control the causes of their disease.

You may wonder why I’m talking about dental health in a blog about mental health.

Many of us are undergoing the shift from chasing mental illness to promoting mental health.  This involves working to understand what causes the loss of mental health and learning to change our behavior to follow more healthy patterns of living.

Some are telling us that changes in brain chemistry are what causes mental illness.  Some are looking more at the kinds of things we each can do to stay healthy, including learning and practicing more effective ways to live, love, and relate to one another. The research for the causes of mental diseases and illnesses continues.

However, the good news is that there is no need to wait in order to take immediate action and receive an immediate pay off for your personal Mental Health & Happiness.

Just like with your dental health, if you will accept personal responsibilities NOW by meeting your genetic needs for love, power, fun, freedom and safety, you will experience an immediate improvement in your Mental Health & Happiness.

Happily, there are now lots of ideas and suggestions to this end. Please read any and all of our blogs. Sign up and start receiving Mental Health & Happiness challenges for support and help. And there is even more readily available now on the world wide web.

 

You make me so miserable!!!

Dr. Ken Larsen

miserable_kenDr. Glasser told us that we choose our own misery.  That’s just what a miserable person wants to hear, right?  WRONG!  When I ‘m miserable I want someone to blame.  I want to feel helpless and a victim of the fickle finger of adverse circumstances.  Something, someone OUT THERE is causing my misery and suffering.

The problem is whose behavior can I control?  If my suffering is caused by someone or something outside of myself, I am condemned to a prolonged period of suffering.  I am a victim.  No one understands me.  Poor me.

Please forgive my mocking tone as I make this point.  The hopeful message that Dr. Glasser was bringing us is that if we are choosing our own misery, we can choose something else.  If we stop criticizing, blaming and complaining about external causes, we can take responsibility for our life and our total behavior.   A good way to recapture the mental health and happiness that has slipped away is to look at what we can change, our behavior.

total-behaviorDr. Glasser talks about total behavior as the four wheels on a car.  The front wheels are what steer the car.  They are how we choose to act and to think.  The back wheels are often the result of what we are doing with the front wheels.  Our actions and our thoughts have an impact on our emotions and our physiology.  The evidence for this is conclusive.

The hard part is turning away from the misery that shelters us from responsibility.  It takes courage and determination.  To change our miserable feelings, we need to move away from the back wheels and work on what we are doing and thinking.  This can be as simple as taking a walk, and reading an inspirational account of someone who has overcome their misery.

I have had bouts of depression and melancholy many times throughout my life.  I have learned to pay attention to what I’m telling you here.  It’s hard to stay miserable and depressed when physically active.  I’ve learned to take a walk, ride a bike, go the club for a workout, call a friend.  Anything to shift the focus of my attention from the navel gazing “poor, poor, pitiful me” to something that refreshes my appreciation for the life that I have.

For many of us, this message is a review of fundamental insights from Dr. Glasser’s Choice Theory.  It is good to review fundamentals from time to time to refresh the wisdom we have learned.