Learning Choice Theory – My Story

Deb and Jeff

 

Deb and Jeff

If I had known Choice Theory when I was younger I would have saved myself literally years of trying to meet my needs in some really dumb ways, with often disastrous results. This is a difficult post to write because it’s based on my story and it’s exposing. I won’t go into all the gory details but I want to summarise the basics of Choice Theory which have made a huge difference to the way I live my life. I’m writing it because I hope it can save other people from having to go through what I have, to get their lives working properly.

Ineffectively trying to Meet Needs

I grew up with high power needs in an environment with very few ways to meet them. It was a time when parents were quick to criticise and slow to praise, at least directly. I was pretty much doomed from the start.

I spent the first fifteen years of my adult life trying to meet my power needs via the success and adoration of my first husband. While that strategy worked for a while, eventually it wasn’t enough and my mental health began to suffer significantly. In my mid-thirties I was diagnosed and hospitalised with bi-polar disorder and told I would have to be medicated for the rest of my life.

I might not have known Choice Theory then, but I knew medication wasn’t going to work for me so I set about curing my “bi-polar disorder”. It took me over ten years, but I believe I have done that, although I know my behaviours can still cause bi-polar behaviours to recur. If I had been introduced to Choice Theory I’m sure I would have made the connection between my behaviours and my mental health a lot faster.

Stop Groping Around in The Dark

Accurately Meeting Your NeedsWithout having a good understanding of my needs I see now that I was groping around in the dark, grabbing at any bright, shiny thing that I thought might give my life the meaning, happiness and peace I was desperately searching for.

Recently I’ve been writing articles for other people to use on their websites. I’ve had to make our Personal Need’s profile available for those people because just about every article comes back to pinpointing what people’s individual needs are and how they might be able to meet them. Life really is about meeting our needs and the better we are able to focus in on that the more successful we will be in all areas of our life. You can download your own Need’s Profile in the sidebar so you can target  your needs more accurately, if this is an issue for you.

Focusing on What You Can Control

The only thing we can control is our behaviour and the most important behaviour to control is our thinking. This is because the actions we choose are a result of our thoughts. We can choose thinking that serves us, or thoughts that set us back. This has taken me ages to come to grips with because I didn’t think that I could control the things that I most needed to, in order to meet my needs. I believed I had very little real control over my life. I even made myself more powerless by giving myself a so-called mental illness. Instead of focusing on meeting my own needs I spent much of my life trying to “fix” others. Not surprisingly that didn’t  work so well.

Taking Responsibility

We can only give ourself the power to change our situation if we take responsibility for our part in creating it. Blaming someone else is a huge barrier to change because we relinquish our own power, and  avoid self-evaluating and choosing more effective behaviours.

Self-Evaluation

Self-EvaluationThe behaviours we choose to meet our needs determine how successful our life will be. If our mental health is not what it should be chances are we are not meeting our needs very effectively.

WDEP

In the end Willian Glasser, creator or Choice Theory, tied everything up very neatly in his simple four step strategy:

  • What do you want?
  • What are you Doing to get it?
  • Evaluate (i.e. how is that working for you?)
  • Plan (to meet your needs as best you can)

Even after meeting Jeff it took a few years for me to fully embrace Choice Theory and the work of William Glasser. The mental health industry has made mental health so complex and Dr Glasser made it so unbelievably simple that I found it difficult to grasp its depth. In fact if I hadn’t experienced its value first hand maybe I still wouldn’t have. There are after all, still many bright, shiny and expensive solutions out there.

If you don’t want to learn Choice Theory for yourself learn it for your kids and give them a great start in life.

Solstice Special

Whether you’re entering the winter solstice as we are in Australia, or you’re in the northern hemisphere and are entering the summer solstice; I wanted to acknowledge this as a period of change in the hope that as a global community we are moving into happier times. To do this we’re giving out a 50% discount coupon over this solstice period, for our course “How to deal with Stress and Anxiety Effectively”. This course is different because it uses Choice Theory to deal with the underlying causes of stress and anxiety as well as depression and so much more.

Even if you aren’t Stressed and Anxious

At a 50% discount this course is great value even if you don’t suffer from stress and anxiety because it includes the core components of Choice Theory that will benefit you in your relationships with your family, your friends and even in your workplace.

  • The Needs that Drive all our Behaviour
  • Our Quality World
  • Our Perceived World
  • Our Comparing Place
  • What Do I have Control Over ?
  • What can I Change ?
  • The Road Forward

These seven modules are basic Choice Theory and comprise nearly half of the course. Being proactive and learning these core facets of Choice Theory may mean that you will never have to live through severe stress and anxiety. You will certainly improve your mental health, your wellbeing and the quality of your life. To get the course with the 50% discount click any of the links, including right here, I know you’ll be glad that you did👍

Thanks for reading, have a great week and an even greater life.

 

Deb 😊 💐

Mental Health During a Pandemic

Fear from Covid 19

Maintaining mental health during a pandemic can be challenging. Fear, uncertainty, lack of control and the inability to meet your needs in the ways you have become used to, all have the potential to impact your mental health. The good news is that all these things are “figureoutable”.

Fear

Fear from Covid 19If you are living in fear, you are not living in the present. Fear is always an imagining of something in the future.

Mindfulness is often prescribed as an antidote to fear, because if you are present and focusing fully on what is around you it is impossible to be imagining what might happen tomorrow, next week or next month.

Logic is another useful strategy to reduce fear.

  • Is imagining all the awful possible outcomes of a pandemic serving you in being able to enjoy your day in peace?
  • Would you agree that most of the thing things you have previously worried about never actually happened?
  • What things in the future can you control?
    • Only yourself, right?
    • Therefore, what can you do now that might be beneficial in the future?
    • Let’s look at this as a practical example. Maybe you are a flight attendant and your fear is that you will never work again in the way you have worked before, your career is in the toilet, what will become of you?
      • Possibilities: the airline industry might resume after a few months and after a year or so could be just as it was before Covid-19; or maybe it won’t, what happens then? What can you do about that possibility right now?
        • You could remain fearful of the future or you could invest in a new set of skills that you can use if your worst-case scenario comes to fruition.
        • Boom! Suddenly your days can become filled with imaginings of all the positive possibilities out there, rather than all the terrifying things that might happen which you have no control over. 

Lack of Control

A pandemic is an opportunity for us to take a reality check and remember that we have a lot less control of our lives than we like to think we do. Normally we tend to live in a comfortable agreement with life that states: if I play by the rules, i.e. stay safe, work hard, be responsible, live healthily and be kind to others, my life will be predictable, and I’ll be OK.

We only have to look at someone who has lost a loved ones, had their home destroyed by a bushfire or a hurricane, or been struck down by a terminal illness, to know that is not a universal truth. At some point most people are severely impacted by something that they cannot control, so learning how to operate effectively under the law of control is a valuable practice.

The Law of Control

The law of control: The only thing I can control is myself.

There is absolutely no point allowing yourself to become upset by what you cannot control. Your response to anyone or any situation is what is important and that is something you do have  control over.

Learning to take up that control is one of the most beneficial skills you can learn,  but how do you do it? By learning to control your thoughts and your actions!

Feelings are the direct result of thoughts and actions. The more you think about doom and gloom and the end of the world the worse you will feel. The more you try to snuff out those thoughts with junk food, alcohol, drugs and any other unsuccessful  addictive behaviours the worse you will feel.

It’s not easy because if your negative thoughts have been running rampant in your mind anything that will give you some relief can seem worthwhile in the short term. You probably won’t be able to change destructive behaviours and destructive thinking overnight, but if you can decide upon how you want to feel and what you want to achieve you can gradually begin to line up your thoughts and behaviours with your desired outcomes.

  • Question: Will this thought/action get me what I want? No? .… so choose again.

Meeting your Needs

Love and BelongingIf you were actively managing your mental health prior to Covid-19 and some of the strategies you used to feel better have been removed from your repertoire, you can replace them with something else that meets the same need.

If you have a a high need for love and belonging it is particularly important to find new ways to stay connected with other people. You may not find Zoom meetings particularly satisfying and feel frustrated that you can’t meet your family and friends the ways you used to, but if you can keep an open mind, online get togethers  will help.

Meeting your need for success and acknowledgement (power), can be incredibly difficult during a pandemic if you’ve lost your job, or your business has been closed down. Many artists have taken to showcasing their work online,  for no money or to raise money for others. They may not receive money for their performances but the joy of performing, and the pleasure and support it brings others is still an important way for them to meet their need  for success and acknowledgement.

If you’ve lost your job, or you can’t operate your business what other ways are there for you to meet your need for success and acknowledgement? It could be something like focusing on a new goal e.g. losing weight, getting fit, giving up alcohol. It could be studying or creating something new, taking up a new hobby, renovating your house or garden. Only you can answer this question.

Identifying your Individual Needs

Everything we do every day is in an attempt to meet one or more of our five needs: survival, love and belonging, fun, freedom, and power (success and acknowledgement). We all have these needs to differing degrees, and our mental health is directly related to how successful we are in meeting those needs. Even during a pandemic there is still an enormous number of ways that most people can successfully meet their needs.

I’d love you to share some of the different ways you are meeting your needs during the Covid-19 crisis. Please share below in the comments section, you never know who you might be helping.

 

Thanks  for reading

 

Deb 🙂