Tag Archives: responsibility

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.

Who Owns the Problem?

By Dr. Ken Larsen

The first time I heard this question asked I felt a new level of understanding open within me.

Before this question came into my life, I had found that when a problem arose one of two things resulted:

  • One was the reflexive reaction to find someone or something to blame.  Dr. Glasser defined this process clearly with the “Seven Deadly Habits.”
  • If someone or something could not be found to blame, then, too often I would take on the burden and blame myself.

deadlyhabitsThe problem with this kind of thinking is that the energy that could be used to solve the problem is being dissipated in the “blame game.”

As I pondered this question I came to see that “owning” the problem is simply taking responsibility.  It does not necessarily assign fault.  In his book “Reality Therapy” Dr. Glasser made the simple statement that we could replace the words “mental health” with “responsibility”.

“Owning” the problems that are the inevitable challenges of life is simply realizing our own power to choose the course of action that will be most helpful.

supportinghabitsSometimes we encounter situations where we personally don’t “own” the problem, but are aware of the someone who does.  Once again we have a choice as to how we think about and relate to the other person owning the problem.  Do we lapse into the “7 Deadlies”?  or have we accepted our own “response-ability” to apply one or more of the “7 Caring habits” in support of the other person?

Next time you are faced with one of life’s challenges, ask yourself the question, “who owns the problem?” And then use your “response-ability” to make the necessary choices.