Dr. Ken Larsen
Dr. 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.
Dr. 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.