By Dr. Ken Larsen
I remember the first time I heard the legend of Sisyphus, the Greek king who was condemned to roll a large boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down so he could push it back up again. He was doomed to repeat this over and over and over for the rest of time. This story is a good example of some of our frustrating behaviors. Sometimes we get stuck doing the same thing over and over, wondering why we don’t get the desired result.
Fortunately for many of us we experience some sort of crisis when we are stuck in this endless repetition of frustrating behavior. For an addict or alcoholic, it may be that 3rd DUI, or an intervention with friends or family. For others it may be a relationship that is falling apart and we realize we’re losing something or someone that we don’t want to lose. Or maybe we missed a promotion or got fired. Something in our life that looms large enough to force us to take a look at where we’re going.
In our culture “crisis” is often looked at as a bad thing. I’m suggesting it may be a good thing if it helps us change our life’s direction. I see a crisis as nothing more than a crossroads where we are faced with two things. One is the realization that the road we are on is not taking us where we want to go. The second thing is we are forced to face alternative choices.
Dr. Bob Wubbolding, a longtime colleague of Dr. Glasser’s, formulated a useful acronym that is helpful when we find ourselves in crisis. That acronym is WDEP. Let’s look at how this can help.
- W stands for “What do you want?” When you are in a jam, what do you want beyond just wanting to get out of the jam? What do you want in your life to help you get your needs met and get you connected to the people you want in your life? What do you want and need to be happy?
- D stands for “what are you Doing? In a crisis you get a good look at something you are doing that is not working. This is where you begin to see how your choices are leading you toward mental health and happiness or away from it.
- E Stands for “Evaluate what you’re doing” to see how what you are doing is helping or hindering you in getting what you want.
- P Stands for “Plan.” There is no perfect plan, but most folks recognize by this time that if what they are doing is not getting them what they want, it is good to have a plan to either change what they are doing or change what they want, or both.
A good thing to do at his point in your search for mental health and happiness is to read “Choice Theory” by Dr. Wm. Glasser. If you have already read it, read it again. I guarantee you will gain fresh insights each time you read it.