Tag Archives: total behavior

Total behavior and Atrial Fibrillation

by Dr. Ken Larsen

Dr. Wm. Glasser taught us about “total behavior”.  His insight that our actions, our thinking, our emotions and our physiology are all interconnected helps us understand ourselves and one another.  Each of the components of this total behavior have an impact on the other parts.  My actions affect my emotions and my physiology, my thinking affects my actions and emotions.  This helps us see that we are one integrated whole and not a separated collection of parts and pieces.  They all work together as we move more closely to deeper mental health and happiness.

Emotions often get our attention, especially when they cause some discomfort.  Depression and anxiety are epidemic in our culture and have victimized far too many of us for far too long.  Our mental health is overshadowed by these emotional states.  Our tendency is to look outside ourselves for the cause of our depression or anxiety.  Sometimes we may need to look inside ourselves for the cause.  Let me tell you what happened to me that brought this message home.

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A couple years back I started to experience a very uncomfortable level of anxiety.  It was what is described as “free floating anxiety” without any apparent cause.  I was not facing divorce or foreclosure, my dog hadn’t died—any of these would foster some real anxiety.  What I was feeling didn’t seem to have a focus, but it was very real.  I was tempted to have one of my physician friends Rx some Xanax, but I decided to look elsewhere before asking for the Rx.

I had heard about “HeartMath” and was reading one of the books published by that organization.  I turned to the section on “Anxiety” and I read that sometimes a physiological condition could cause anxiety.  They specifically mentioned cardiac arrhythmia as a possible cause.

I made an app’t with my primary care physician and described the situation, especially the part about an arrhythmia.  He scooted me into the room where they do EKGs and sure enough, the EKG readout clearly pointed to atrial fibrillation.  This is a condition where the upper chambers of the heart are not working as they should.

Once this diagnosis was made, I was given the appropriate treatment and the anxiety slipped away.

I’m not saying I am totally free of anxiety.  If I got a letter from the IRS, I suspect I would get a little uptight.

In our quest to enjoy more mental health and happiness, it is good to be aware that we are whole beings “fearfully and wonderfully made” with an amazing complexity to the way our parts and systems work together.  It’s good to have this in mind if mental health and happiness become a bit elusive.

You are what you think

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Do you pay attention to the food you eat? Are you choosing foods and drinks that refresh, nourish and support your body and optimal health? These days there is more information than ever about what good and healthy choices actually mean. Sometimes this information and advice can actually be more confusing than helpful. The need to become informed, thoughtful and an educated consumer is not only true for your own individual needs, but also for your family.

If you drive a car, do you pay attention to your safe driving habits? Are you cautious and conscious when driving in a school zone, on mountain pass or through inclement weather? Before you take a long road trip you probably conscientiously have your mechanic give your car the tending and overhaul necessary to ensure a safe and hazard-free trip.

How would you rate your dental and oral hygiene routine? On a scale of one to ten with one being neglectful and careless and ten indicating that you follow your dentist’s and hygienist’s recommendations regularly, what is your score?

You are what you eat.
You are what you do.
You are what you think. 

Louise Hay, self-help guru and mother of the modern-day positive affirmation movement has been preaching the idea that you become what you think for years. Your thoughts either support, heal and help you, or they harm, hurt and damage you.

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Consistent with Glasser’s notion that all behavior is total comprised of the four simultaneously occurring components of: acting, thinking, feeling, and physiology (ing), a thought is not simply a thought. There is simultaneously accompanying acting, feeling and physiology(ing) with every thought. When you think happy, optimistic, affirmative thoughts your concurrent acting, feeling and physiology is optimistic and affirmative. When you think negative, hurtful or angry thoughts, your concurrent acting, feeling and physiology is negative, hurtful or angry.

Is it time you started considering your verbal and thought diet? When you start self-evaluating and taking a similar inventory about your private thoughts, as well as your oral and written statements as you did with your food, driving and oral hygiene habits, how are you doing?

If you aren’t really sure, let today be the day you start being conscious of your private thoughts. Start listening to what you say to others and yourself.

Is it time for you to alter your thinking and verbal diet to improve your Mental Health & Happiness? You are what you think. Since there are so many wonderful thoughts to choose from, start choosing delightful, loving and kind thoughts today. Try this:

Today I choose to be Mentally Healthy & Happy

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.

Choose FEAR or Love

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

choicesRight now, at this very moment I am standing at a crossroads. As I look in one direction I see doom, peril and potential ruination. In the other direction I see nothing. It’s as if vaseline is over my eyes and I cannot see anything except blurry blobs of ill defined shapes and sizes.

I blame myself for being in this predicament. If I had done a better job of paying closer attention perhaps I could have taken steps to avoid arriving at this particular spot in my life’s journey.

Hold on though. I am not a careless person. Each decision I’ve made along the way was based on doing the best I could at the time with the information that I had. Hmm . . .

I’m discovering that too frequently I blame myself for circumstances, events and outcomes that were not dependent only on my actions or inactions. If blaming is among the deadly habits that contribute to the deterioration and destruction of relationships, how does my blaming myself help me? Hmm . . .

Am I willing to dig a little deeper? Instead of going to self-blame can I better understand my frustration, anger and confusion?

Upon further reflection and some helpful meditative reading I discover that I’m full of fear! If I wasn’t afraid would I be stuck at the crossroads?

Here are some discoveries that have helped me:

FEAR = thinking + time. Decrease either and fear disappears

                                    F.E.A.R. – FORGET EVERYTHING AND RUNor

                                                     FORGET EVERYTHING AND RISE

                                                                                    (Thank you Dave Romanelli for this idea

Happy is the new Healthy, 2014)

What if I face my crossroads, my potential peril, doom or ruination with love instead of fear? Now what?

Yes! Yes! Yes! The choice of direction is clear even though the clarity has not eliminated the blurred and unclear road before me. With love as the guiding light and my total behavior of loving in every step I am propelled forward with confidence and competence.

I choose LOVE and with that choice my Mental Health & Happiness improves. Even though the present “bump in the road” felt more like an overwhelming and insurmountable mountain, with each loving step I am able to continue moving forward.

Are there areas in your life where you’re choosing fear instead of love?

 

Is it “Being Overwhelmed” or “Choosing” to be Overwhelmed?

By Sue Tomaszewski

It’s become an ongoing joke over the last months with me saying that I’ve just been too overwhelmed to write this post on “Being Overwhelmed”.

The more I’ve considered how many times I’ve heard other people reject taking on one more thing due to being too overwhelmed while others do manage to accept the challenge, the more I wonder about Quality World Pictures, Perceived World Information, and Total Behaviors.

I’ve now come to terms with the “choices ” I’ve made. No matter how overwhelmed I perceived myself to be I did choose to devote time to those things that either seemed more “urgent” or perhaps more “need satisfying”:

  • work assignments that had time deadlines with consequences I wasn’t willing to face if not completed.
  • a friend who was very ill and who has since died, whom I wanted to spend time with and support her husband, as well.
  • even being sure I kept up with my “Words with Friends”, Facebook, and email communications.
  • And, hate to admit it, but also making sure I did watch ALL the “Breaking Bad” and “Downton Abby” episodes.

overwhelmed

Yes, my choices to “balance” perceptions of “overwhelmedness” were behaviors that helped me maintain my QW picture of a competent, responsible person who is a devoted friend who enjoys fun and communication with others. Supposing also that even my TV choices reflect more intense story lines, as I am committed to follow-through!

But, please note, my choices were also actions that were already part of my organized behavior system. During this time, I now realize, even when “Words with Friends” was “too challenging”, I would communicate with my “friends” that I was just too busy to play.

My new reflection is that I DID CHOOSE to be overwhelmed and did opt for actions that were, to some extent challenging, but still part of a repertoire of behaviors that I already possessed. I did DID choose NOT to engage in behaviors that I perceived as more demanding, more new, needing more effort.

I am pleased to say , that WRITING, might NOW also be a behavior that has been added as a new organized behavior still developing as I work to continue being simply “whelmed”.

The Placebo Effect

pianoman

By Dr. Ken Larsen

William James, whom some credit with being the father of American Psychology, once proclaimed, “I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing.”

This simple yet profound statement points to the interconnection between what we do and how we feel.   Dr. Wm. Glasser points to what he calls “total behavior”.  Total behavior is recognizing the interplay between what we do, the ways we think, our emotions and our physiology.

We can only control our actions.  What we do shapes our thinking, which then impacts how we feel.  Finally, as we are learning, our thinking and emotions tie into our physiology,  and our mental and physical health.

The placebo effect shows us how what we believe has an effect on our health and well being.  Then there is the “nocebo” effect.  When we believe we are miserable and lonely, we probably will be.

We have a choice here.  We can let the way we feel rule our lives, or we can have some control over the way we feel by what we choose to do.  We can learn from Anna in “The King and I”

While shivering in my shoes
I strike a careless pose
And whistle a happy tune
And no one ever knows I’m afraid

The result of this deception
Is very strange to tell
For when I fool the people
I fear I fool myself as well