Tag Archives: self-evaluation

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.

Are you willing? Are you ready?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

During one of my regular shifts in the psychiatric emergency room of a general hospital a patient arrived who was feeling exceedingly anxious and worried. He had experienced a number of recent life events contributing to his emotional state. And he added to his list of recent concerns by piling on more issues and challenges he had been juggling and trying to handle for awhile.

In my well meaningman2 attempts to be helpful I shared some very specific ideas and suggestions for some coping skills he could immediately start to implement. Simply taking some deep breaths and focusing on the rise and fall of his chest and belly should be a good and helpful start. These suggestions were met with an increase in his upset and anxiety leading to tears. Clearly I was contributing to his condition worsening.

Later it hit me. This fellow was invested in his upset and suffering. He was not yet read or willing to change.

I was reminded of my own personal experience years earlier. While washing dishes I was deep into an argument with my husband, even though my husband was not home at the time.

At some point I realized my ranting, raving and complaining was not helping me get what I wanted and needed. I even went so far as deciding a different course of action that would help me get what I wanted and needed.

I asked myself two important questions:

Am I willing to do something different?

          Am I ready to do something different? 


This was the simple truth. Even though I had evaluated my present behavior as being ineffective, I was not ready or willing to give it up . . . YET!

The present argument was quite satisfying. I was able to express my feelings and desires without interruption. I could be right and righteous without interruption or contradiction. I would WIN this argument.

Later, I told myself, I would approach my husband and engage in a conversation where we could work toward compromise and mutually satisfactory solutions. Later I would be ready and willing.

Now I know better. Now I will still offer my patients some immediate skills and solutions to help them improve their sense of well being and settle their emotional upheaval. But first I will ask:

Is what you are doing now helping you get what you need and want?

Are you willing and ready to consider doing something different?

Respecting their present state of mind I will ask if they are ready, willing and wanting to move forward for greater Mental Health and Happiness.

Celebrate you at your best today!

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Too often when I attempt to open an app on my iPad or get my phone camera set to take a picture of one of my grandchildren I inadvertently hit the wrong button. What comes up on screen is a close up, real time image of me. I hurry to make the correction and remove it but not before I catch a glimpse of what I actually look like compared to the picture I have in my head of what I look like.

This is a horrifying experience!

Is this what I look like? Could my hair look worse? The angle brings out every line and wrinkle I’m pretending doesn’t exist. And yet here is reality staring back at me.

This kind of realization and self-evaluation does nothing to improve my Mental Health & Happiness.

Amazingly I’ve had an equal and opposite experience, and I bet you have too. I come across an old photo of me taken ten, or fifteen or more years ago. I almost can’t believe the photo is of me. I look wonderful! And I remember viewing the photo at the time, yet again feeling horrified at how I looked. But I was wrong. I looked good.

I hope you will please confirm for me that you too have had this experience. I’m not the only vain person on the planet, am I? And I can’t be the only person who was at one point dissatisfied with a photo only to realize later how great I actually looked, am I?

canstockphoto13450488I’ll make a deal with you. Let’s take a step to improve our Mental Health & Happiness. How about today we each celebrate who we are and what we look like today. Just remember ten years from now we will look back at ourselves amazed at our beauty. Let’s not wait ten years to celebrate. Let’s celebrate today.

Gold Star Day

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

During my childhood I was tortured by having to take piano lessons.

My father was an enthusiastic musician, having learned music through his high school band classes. He loved music, became a jazz musician in New York Cit, then  a member of the Army Band. At the end of World War II when he left the Army he was asked to join Arty Shaw’s Big Band. Dad was aware that being a professional musician who traveled was incompatible with being a good husband and father. So he declined the offer. But his love of music never diminished during his entire life. He wanted to share this passion with his three daughters. Thus the lessons for us giving us the same opportunity to fall in love.

Unfortunately none of us saw these mandatory lessons as a privilege or benefit. Rather we each endured our daily 30 minutes of practice as torture, plodding through to get the chore completed. Practicing mistakes will only make you better at playing mistakes, our father admonished each of us in turn. I don’t know about my sisters, but I knew I would much rather take horseback riding lessons or dance lessons than the dreaded piano lessons.

Mrs. LaGrand, our piano teacher, was kind, patient and boring. She did a fine job of teaching us all music. To this day all three of us can read music. Only one of us has a piano in her house.

goldstar_19977074The best event that happened during piano lessons though, was when one of us would earn a gold star! If we had a piece that we could play really well, practice to improve and play even better, and maybe even memorize the piece Mrs. LaGrand would give us a gold star at the top of the music page. Sometimes she would give us different colors, red, or blue, or silver, or green. But earning a gold star indicated the highest compliment!


For me, playing the music was never meaningful. But I did love those stars, especially the gold stars!

Little did I realize as a child that taking piano lessons, something I really didn’t want to do but felt I had to do, was only the beginning of facing difficult challenges, chores and tasks needing to be completed.

The great news is that I am now in charge. I can place a gold star on my daily calendar for those days I have done an excellent job. Sometimes I measure my excellence not in the quality of the job done, but in my attitude as I complete the chore. Sometimes I measure success by completing at least one task with quality results. And sometimes I give myself a star because this hard, sad, lonely or challenging day is at an end and I get to start all over again tomorrow knowing that at least one gold star is on my calendar this week.

Want to try improving your Mental Health & Happiness through personally self-evaluating one thing you have done today to earn a gold star?  You get to decide what you did today that is worthy of a gold star. I bet if you look for some aspect of your day you can find something positively measured by a gold star. Go ahead and give it a try. See if you can fill up your entire week or month with gold star days!

20 years’ experience or one year repeated 20 times?

By Dr. Ken Larsen

Self-evaluation is the key to Dr. Glasser’s approach to living a mentally healthy and happy life.  The focus of self-evaluation is enclosed in the questions:

  • What do you want?
  • Is what you’re doing working to get you what you want?

We’re all familiar with Einstein’s famous comment that the definition of insanity is repeating the same ineffective behavior over and over hoping for a different outcome.

This is where we ask ourselves if the past “x” number of years have been spent accumulating wisdom and life skills that help us get what we want?

Or have those years been spent repeating what doesn’t work and living in habits and beliefs that are not getting us what we want.

The common wisdom among those who practice Choice Theory is that if you’re not getting what you want, you can either change what you want, or change what you’re doing to get what you want, or both.

I like to think of life as a voyage.  As an amateur sailor, I’ve learned the importance of navigation.  The essence of navigation is to have a clear idea of where you want to go and a workable means to get there.  From time to time it’s not a bad idea to look back at the wake to see if we are sailing a straight course.  But we don’t get to where we want to be by looking back.

repeatingGetting our basic needs met is what we are steering for.  The choices we make provide the forward motion.  As with navigation at sea, it’s important to check our heading against our projected destination.  Is the course we have chosen going to get us to where we want to go?

In any voyage it is inevitable that mid-course corrections will need to be made.  That is a good thing.  We do the same thing in life on a daily basis.  If we stay aware of where we want to go, we can make the needed corrections when we see ourselves straying off course.

I wish you all “Bon voyage” in your journey.