- Mental Health
Choice Theory Can Help You Choose the Life You Want - Article 2-
A way to look at life
Choosing the Life You Want: Glasser’s Metaphor for Looking at the World
Second in a series
In the first article, we were understanding a little about why it makes so much sense to be unhappy. Why choosing a particle action makes sense. Of course, the reason actions make sense is because it is the best attempt at getting what one wants. Readers may ask, “That’s preposterous.” There may be other ways to view situations.
Dr. Glasser explains that we really live in two worlds. There is the world inside our head, which he calls the perceived world and that which is outside of us, called the real world. Try to think of this in the sense of our eyes being an iphone, video, digital camera all at once, all at the same time, taking immediate photos of what we see.
While our brain is forever interacting with the world around us, it’s really difficult to arrive at a concrete understanding of what that means. Choice Theory suggests that our world is like a car and that we are in the driver seat. The metaphor is sensible when one understands that we are making behavior choices in the same way a driver determines speed, direction and destination.
The car is the symbol for our world. Inside that world, all at the same time, we are acting, thinking, feeling and physiologizing. Choice Theory refers to that as Total Behavior. Total Behavior happens all together all the time, whether we are aware of it or not. In a sense, these are actually genetic instructions.
How can that be? When you anger, are you feeling something? Are you breathing? Are you aware of the anger? Do you talk, move, and do? When you sleep. Do you dream? Breathe? Wake up with night terrors sometimes? Do you toss and turn?
Are there behaviors we do not choose? Yes. Those, too are total behavior. Did the subject decide not to let his heart beat?? Did the subject force his heart to perform another behavior? No noticeable behavior? Is the subject still breathing, body functions working?
“The devil made me do it!” “My husband makes me so mad!” Let’s look at those statements and then we will relate them to Glasser’s metaphor of the car.
“My husband makes me so mad!” Why? The reasons then pour forth. “He is selfish, he yells at me, he’s inconsiderate,” and on it goes. What your husband is really providing is information. Reflect on the world constantly gives us. Information. What we decide to do with it e really in our control.
As real world information is noticed, we make judgments about it based on our experiences, values, and beliefs. Those decisions are perceptions and Dr. Glasser calls it our perceived world.
Perceiving is an interesting word in this context. What we receive in this information is actually a picture of the object we are noticing. We don’t have our loved one inside our head when we think of them. There’s no room. We have a picture of our loved one. Is there any other way to experience the world we see besides the pictures we make in our minds? Thus people have different opinions.
A non believer may see a cancer patient and say “What a tragedy. “ A believing person will see the same patient and say, “He’s transforming to a better place. He’s getting ready to go home.”
Years ago, I saw a man across the room from me. I motioned to my partner and said “That’s the ugliest man I ever saw.” His response? “That’s no man! That’s my wife!”
When the filters in our heads and the information we process are nicely aligned, it’s like a scale that balances perfectly, or pretty perfectly. We feel good. Our needs of love, belonging, power, fun and survival are being met. We are satisfied.
There will be times when what we perceive and what pictures we have in our mind are disconnected. What then? Why does that happen? We get uncomfortable. I call it the hee bee gee bees.
In every person’s mind, there is a special place where things are great. It’s the place where we run the 3 hour marathon or find the people we love. It’s the place where the boy always gets the girl. The special place where we feel great and where we see ourselves in the way we want to see ourselves. Glasser refers to that as the Quality World. That place is unique to each living person.
Who is in your Quality World? What experiences do you store there? Those things and people which provide for needs satisfying life experiences are there. Thus, it becomes easier to understand the abused kid who wants to go back to the hurtful parent. While I still have bluegrass music high in my Quality World, being a banjo player is gone, since I’ve had carpal tunnel.
When our mind pictures match the information we are receiving from the world, we are in stasis. We are like a train heading down. We are a car zooming along the autobahn. Our thoughts and our actions are being steered by us, as we in the driver seat.
When our emotions steer the car, we experience discomfort. It’s the butterfly in the stomach feeling, the uncertainty experience, the angst one notices when the teenager is not home at midnight and the cell phone is not answered. Choice Theory uses the images of scales to visualize this.
When our scales are unbalanced, we feel an urge to act, to do something. During those times, we may choose ineffective behaviors that feel good for a time, but result in ultimate dissatisfaction. Talk to a binge eater or an exercise addict for further proof.
If one appreciates that the car goes where the front wheels take it, then thinking and acting, can be seen as effective ways to navigate side streets and unknown territory of life. When emotion and physiology are in control of activity, less effective behavior results.
When I was forced to retire, I soothed myself in food. Twenty pounds later, I was still retired. I merely had to buy larger sized pants.
Thus, depending on our perceptual filters, two people may look at a painting and describe it in completely different terms. Appreciating that we see the world through different perceptual filters will encourage a new way of dealing with those we love and the experiences we confront each day.
Dream dreams and you’ll see miracles.
Take me for a ride in your car, car
- Home of Choice Theory - William Glasser Institute
The William Glasser Institute - Home of Choice Theory.
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