Sunday, March 20, 2011

How Dr. Wm. Glasser Helped Put me on the Road–Part One

I know that it may be surprising given that I don’t know Dr. Glasser personally. Have never even met him. One of his books has made a lasting impression on me and has influenced many of my decisions. Some of my favourite books have been written by psychiatrists and psychoanalysts who have delved deeply into human consciousness, have studied human behaviour and related their observations. On top of the list is Victor Frankl’s “Man's Search for Meaning”. Then is Erich Fromm’s “Escape from Freedom” and “The Art of Loving”. The latest but not the least, Dr. William Glasser’s “Choice Theory”. I’ll have to elaborate a bit on that last one.
But first, permit me to share an observation that came to me as I used the astrological chart and my studies in psychology for counselling. It is quite simple. When we flounder in hesitancy or doubts when making a decision, it is most often because we fail to ask the right questions. Or fail to focus on the real heart of the problem. The answer is therefore murky and the result wholly unsatisfying.
Now I’ll come to “Choice Theory” and try to be as brief as I can about a complex subject. Dr. Glasser explains that there are certain beliefs that are the foundation of what he terms “External Control Psychology”. By this he means that we often react by rote to external stimuli that are just information. Such as answering the phone and countless other signals that merely provide us with information. Therefore, we are not “forced” to answer a ring. People do not “make me” mad or sad or happy. They do not control my response to their behaviour or talk. I CHOOSE to react to whatever information they give me. The only thing that falls under my control is how I think, act, and feel. Neither do I control them. The only thing that I can do is provide them with information on how their talk or behaviour affects me.
Furthermore, External Control Psychology posits that it is my right, even in certain cases my moral obligation, to ridicule, threaten, or punish those who won’t do what I want them to do, or reward them whenever they comply with my wish.
He then describe four basic needs. 1. Survival, under which fall Love, Loving Sex, Belonging. 2. Power, which according to him is a drive that is restricted to human beings only. Animals are not hormone-driven to be aggressive. It is just a matter of survival.  We are the only species that is power-driven. He adds that External Control is the natural offspring of Power, therefore the enemy of freedom. 3.Freedom. 4. Fun.
How we individually perceive reality, and this differently from any or all others, has to do with what he terms our “Quality World”.  This small personal world is created by each person in his or her memory shortly after birth throughout the whole life. It is composed of specific pictures that portray the best ways to satisfy one or more of our basic needs. These pictures fall into three categories. 1- The people we most want to be with. 2- The things we most want to own or experience. 3- The ideas or belief systems that govern much of our behaviour.
Thus, anytime we feel particularly good, we are choosing to behave so that someone, something, or some belief in the real world comes the closest to matching a picture we hold in our quality world. He says that total objectivity is a myth and could exist only in a world where everyone shared exactly the same quality world. So, as we attempt to satisfy our needs, we are continually creating or re-creating our quality worlds. Some pictures may remain in our quality world long after we can satisfy them to the extent that we want. Hence our suffering.
He goes on by explaining that all we do from birth to death is BEHAVE. As we choose what we DO, we are neither the victims of our bad choices, neither are we the beneficiary of our good ones. He declares that a Choice Theory world is a tough but responsible world. I will add that it is a world that, within obvious limits (weather, government, etc.), falls totally under our control. It is a world based on Freedom of Choice. Here, I’ll add that according to Erich Fromm in his “Escape from Freedom”, there exist two types of freedom. The freedom TO and the freedom FROM. But that’s an entirely different question.
When I was in a Seniors apartment, I kept a journal. Following a number of months of profound unhappiness I realized that I had to remove having a dog from my quality world. Likewise with a sense of freedom, wild open spaces, nature, and what I call the Go factor. Mobility and the means to just go. Whenever, Wherever. And I honestly tried very hard. What I got in counterpart was definitely not part of my quality world. The security it provided had been part of it when I had a family to raise. That was no longer the case. My new world was restrictive, confined, and devoid of any meaning or pleasure. Simply put in terms of my quality world, way too much was missing. It was MY responsibility to make the necessary correction. Without anyone’s permission or opinion. So I did. Got me Queenie and took my RV out of storage and got GOing. And never missed the downtown apartment! Dr. Glasser, thank you.
On a final note, it may well be that all this is merely semantics, but how are we to evolve beyond mere instinct to conscious living unless we use ideas, words, mental concepts, that inform our behaviour as human beings distinct from other life forms?


Levonne said...

I like your inquiring nature. I like how you are utilizing these fine professionals to guide you through a thought process. To make order when the emotion of the situation creates chaos. I am rereading The Power of Positive Thinking. I read it when I was in my 20's. It was a most influential book at the time. In rereading, I was unaware how "christian" focused it is. We need different readings/teachers/guides along throughout our journey. Overall, I do like the thought of you and Queenie in your RV - quality and freedom.

Anonymous said...

I am looking forward to chasing all the reading leads. Much food for thought. I saw a good program with Wayne Dyer and the "Power of Intention" on PBS a couple of weeks ago. I can only imagine how you felt when you made your "great escape". Wonderful for you and us.


Stargazer said...

Thank you for your comments. I believe that by learning ways to define our problems, goals, and even ourselves, we gain clarity. And with a clearer view, we can make better informed life decisions. For me Dr. Glasser's Choice Theory has been invaluable, for how can one put a price tag on personal fulfilment? That's why I chose to share this, in the hope it may benefit someone else.

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