Tag Archives: Glasser

Life’s Lemons

By:  Maria E Trujillo alias Manual DeVie

Growing up I had my share of life’s lemons. I did my best to make what I thought was the best of it. Following the old adage I attempted to make lemonade out of lemons.

However, my batch of lemonade was filled with toxic mixers that I added. I used my own negative thinking and faulty beliefs combining it with and unhealthy and dysfunctional relationships.

It’s difficult to learn how to make a healthy batch when I wasn’t born into a family with a healthy skill set. In fact, I learned to operate as an ostrich and to sweep problems and difficulties under the rug.

Courageously I entered a new class in lemonade 101, more commonly known as couple’s counseling. Our counselor followed the structured couples counseling session advocated by Dr. William Glasser. As a couple we never made it past the crucial fourth session. This is the session where we each needed to make a commitment to continue. That ended couple’s counseling.

lemonsI knew there were always going to be lemons in my life. I knew I wanted a healthy batch of lemonade. I wanted to learn how to change and use my own healthy mixers to make a healthy batch of lemonade. I continued forward with individual counseling.

With the help of this counselor who practiced Reality Therapy using choice theory psychology I found a better recipe for making lemonade. I have gained healthy skills in the process.

These skills include knowing which lemons are worth squeezing and which are best left for the compost pile.


Choice Theory, Reality Therapy and Power Tools 


by Mona Dunkin 

All of us seek identity, significance, purpose and power. The power need is the need to feel important and to be appreciated for who we are and for what we do. The power need is met through confidence, being heard and understood, accomplishments and in the giving and receiving of service and respect.

Motivational speaker Les Brown has six “Tools to Reclaim Your Power” that I think applies to the continuation of Dr. Glasser’s life-changing Reality Therapy and Choice Theory concepts and legacy.  Using these tools will certainly contribute to mental health and happiness.  Here is my brief interpretation of Les’s tools.

  1. It’s possible. When you have an idea that will benefit self and mankind it is possible that you can implement it. If anyone else in the entire world has done something out-of-the-box, then it is possible that you, too, can do something beyond your current skill level, whether simple or exemplary.
  1. Its necessary.Once you begin the possible it becomes a need to carry through. Having left a place of safety it is necessary to broaden one’s comfort zone. It becomes a white-heat passion that must be fulfilled.
  1. Its you. Others may in time come alongside to assist, guide or carry on but initially the weight is on your own shoulders. It is dependent upon your own unlimited belief in yourself. It is you investing your time, your energy and your resources into a fledgling concept. It is you motivating you to keep on keeping on, to continue when everything within says, “Quit.”
  1. Its hard. An airplane needs resistance to fly. Mechanically – as well as physically and emotionally – it is not easy to overcome pull and drag in order to soar. It is not easy to keep up momentum when others may think you are crazy. It is not easy to get up after a seeming defeat. It is not easy to push for change in a complacent, smug, self-satisfied world. But it is doable.
  1. Its worth it. Your second wind kicks in, the goal is in sight and nothing will stop you now. The rewards, small and no-so-small, begin to collect and grow. You are filled with gratitude for what you have learned and how you have grown in the journey.
  1. Its finished. This is the most beautiful part. Even before crossing the finish line, your dream has taken on a life of its own and it will succeed in spite-of-you, with or without you. Your legacy is intact and will be passed on to future generations.

There has been a tremendous amount of momentum built over the last 85 years by Dr. and Mrs. Glasser, the Board of Directors, and all of the people around the world who have dipped into Glasser’s Choice Theory and Reality Therapy ideas. We have gained strength from them and have come too far to turn back now.  Let us be like Tim-the-tool-man-Taylor and add “more power” to our learning and “teaching the world Choice Theory”.

When inspiration calls, answer the phone and give it directions to find you. You have the tools.

Choices and Attitudes

By Mona Dunkin, CTRTC/LM

Who has not had an experience when your back was against the wall? What to do?  As with most things in life, the array of choices and attitudes are vast. In a rush-rush, worry-worry world one may become blind to options.

choicesThere is always a choice. Even in extreme limits, one always has a choice and can make things better or can make things worse. I find this insight effective in dealing with the clients at the sanctions center where I work. When they rebel against limits, I ask “Is there anything you can do to make the situation worse?”

Although coming from a negative perspective it seems to empower them to realize they are “in control.”

I continue, “Conversely, is there anything you can do to make the situation better.”

Reluctantly most agree that when their back is against the way they still have the power to make things better or worse.

Attitude is the deal-breaker. So what could possibly make a difficult, unhappy situation a little bit better? The key is attitude. Attitude comprises words used, tone of voice, sounds made, facial expressions, choice of clothing and body language. Without a word being spoken, a simple mental shift from rebellion to resistance is noticeable.  In most cases that shift if visible enough to effect a lowering of defenses so communication/negotiation can be re-established. Relationships are subject to change depending on one’s attitude.

Choices are empowering. When keys are misplaced, an initial response is “No!” That’s what’s known as denial. In a state of denial vision is narrowed, thinking is decreased and stress rises. A seemingly illogical decision to choose to accept the lost keys frees the mind to remember where they might be, activates the eyes to see rather than overlook and releases creativity to solve the problem. The choice of keeping a good attitude in the midst of an inconvenience frees you to have a good day regardless.

Choices can be crippling. Too many choices can have a negative impact. In a study of consumer purchases, a vendor offering six flavors of jam sold to 30% of those who visited his display, whereas the vendor with 24 flavors had only a 3% buy-rate. Too many choices can lead to a stalemate. Too many choices can become no choice.

Make your attitude your ally. This is done through the power of choice; if not of the circumstance, then definitely of your response to the circumstance. In those no-choice-back-to-the-wall situations, attitude can be a lifesaver.

The REAL Behind Reality Therapy

By Mona Dunkin

It is mind boggling to think that neurological science asserts that one’s brain cannot tell the difference in reality and imagination. Suppose you open a drawer and a tarantula jumps out.   You scream, run or faint, etc., only to later discover that someone played a prank with a rubber spider.

In the same vein, the brain cannot tell the difference from past hurts and current thoughts about those past offenses. Continual musing over hurts of the past is as if one is reliving them now. Today. In real time.

Since all of our body works as an integrated whole, the emotions stay stirred up in mentally and physically unhealthy and unhappy ways.

And that affects our body. And here we go ‘round the mulberry bush – only it’s not fun.

Old school is mental health is for clients to get in touch with childhood traumas and other past hurts and work through them.  What are the results? The results may or may not drag yesterday into today. The results may or may not lead to little to no change.  The results may or may not give spurts of relief with long term staying stuck.

New school for mental health and happiness via Reality Therapy is to live today today. Don’t wallow in the past. Live in the NOW.

Delve into your creative system for the real you just waiting to be unleashed. You know the one. The one without all that baggage.

choiceEngage your free-will and choose.  You may or may not experience a deep sigh of relief.  You may or may not be able to move past the past.  You may or may not have an epiphany that ushers in mental health and happiness.

But here’s the amazing thing. You get to choose.  So be good to you.

Self-evaluate your results. Continue when effective. Regroup and re-plan when not so effective.  Live. Laugh. Love. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Or at least it is new school for those of us who have been blessed to learn about Dr. William Glasser and his amazingly simple strategies for blowing the (often referred to and seldom effective) common sense out of the tub and replacing it with personal responsibility.

Reflection: Take Step Three: Illuminate your Path

By Debbie Cringe

The ability to self-reflect involves strategies that allow you to ignore negative emotion, chaotic mind-stories, bodily pain and illness, or to avoid making harmful choices. There are many strategies that people recommend: walking away from an altercation, finding someone to talk to about the problem, trying to arbitrate a problem among people and yourself. Some of these may have already worked for you so continue them! However, another strategy involves allowing the quiet and healed mind to use its wisdom to guide. Dr. Glasser’s Behavior Car is an excellent way to break a problem into pieces and evaluate the problem area – isolate your Thinking, Doing, Body, or Feelings—as you work towards solutions. This has been discussed in past blogs.

Another strategy is called PACE IT! The intensity of the bright lights help you focus on the smaller parts of a whole problem. PACE IT! Does this in four steps. (1). identify your problem or the action that precipitated your unhappiness. (2). look at the cause-effect relationships that led to the problem or action. (3). Identify which cause-effect line you would choose to change an action that would have allowed a different ending to the incident. (4). Write the action you would change and rewrite the new ending.

Download a template that guides this type of reflection.

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.”


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.

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.

How to rid yourself of ants

By Corby D Meyer, LPC

What do you know about ants? I bet you’re thinking of the pesky, small creatures who are constantly working and occasionally spoiling your picnics. That’s not the kind I’m talking about though.

I’m talking about A.N.T.s or Automatic Negative Thoughts. I learned about it at a recent counselor conference I attended. The presenter offered a traditional behavioral theory that focused on activating events triggering automatic negative thoughts. The premise being that we can combat these A.N.T.s, thus changing our experiences. Because these responses are automatic, we do not understand that our negative thoughts are transforming into negative experiences. fallingapart

I was reminded of Dr. Glasser’s ideas regarding behavior. First is the premise that all behavior is total and comprised of the four component parts: acting/thinking/feeling/physiology. The second is his explanation of organizing and reorganizing behaviors. All behavior starts out as reorganizing or creative behaviors. But after we’ve done the same thing over and over and over again, it becomes organized, habitual, or some might say automatic. So when my presenter described “automatic thinking patterns” it reminded of Choice Theory psychology and how it describes organized habits that include thinking and the other three components of behavior.

The major difference between A.N.T.s and ideas from Choice Theory psychology is the A.N.T.s notion of Activating Events—the idea that something external to us can trigger our thoughts or actions. Choice Theory psychology explains that the event, our belief about the event, our thoughts, feelings, physiology and actions about the event are all happening inside us. We are internally motivated and controlled. The outside world, including any Activating Event, simply gives us information. How we interpret it or what we believe about it comes from our internal organized behaviors.

The next time you find yourself unhappy, discouraged, or angry about something, stop and examine your thoughts, beliefs and feelings. Whether you start changing your A.N.T.s or simply questions your beliefs and assumptions, you have the power to change your experience with all of the constant information you receive from the world. With some effort, you too might use the industrial focus of ants and change your negative experiences into more neutral or positive ones.

Can fun change behavior?

By Nancy S Buck, Phd, RN

Many years ago I learned of an ingenious invention.  A father who was worried about the number of solitary and sedentary hours his children spent passively watching television decided to make a change in his home. He configured a stationary bicycle that needed to be pedaled in order to provide the electricity to power the television. If his children wanted to watch TV they had to produce the pedal power to make the TV work. At the time I wished I had the knowledge and skill to make my own TV run by Nancy energy.  At least I would be exercising while I spent what I considered to be too much time “vegging” out in front of the boob tube.

Hold onto your hats, folks. There is a website that may delight, surprise and inspire you. The Fun Theory, http://www.thefuntheory.com is An initiative of Volkswagen. 

canstockphoto6113908This site is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for  the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.

 Spend a bit of time on this website and learn about all sorts of ideas people have not only imagined, but that the folks from The Fun Theory have actually made into a reality, and discover the miracle of fun.

Dr. Glasser declared that fun is one of the five genetic instructions driving all behavior. What this website demonstrates over and over and over again is that people are more likely to follow the path that will lead them to fun. Along the way, parents, or governments can associate the fun path with wished for behavioral changes.

For instance, creating a game to pick up toys, or decluttering a room, or doing homework,  increases the chances you child (and you adult) will complete the task. The child probably has very little interest in completing the task. But children always have interest in fun, more fun, and more fun and games.

Or, as one of the video demonstrates, recycling material that increases the publics accumulated “pin ball” machine score increases the likelihood that people will recycle. When people can play the “piano keys” on a stairway they are more likely to use the stairs instead of the escalator also provided.

Do you want to improve your Mental Health & Happiness? Start meeting your need for fun, (which includes learning as long as the learning is fun), more regularly. See if you can create a game, challenge or more fun into your least favorite chores and jobs. Ask your children for their ideas and help. Children are experts at making fun and games anywhere, anytime whether appropriate or not. They can also be your consultant and coach when you need more fun in your life!