Dr. William Glasser’s book on “Choice Theory” offers a positive and exciting new approach to the concept of personal empowerment and freedom. In his easy to read book Dr. Glasser suggests that almost all human behaviour is chosen to satisfy the five basic needs for survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun.
Glasser contends these five basic needs are written into our genetic structure and they drive all our behaviours from birth to death. Unfortunately our genes do not provide us with any specific behaviour to meet these needs. So very soon after birth, we start learning how to behave in order to get our needs met and we continue learning new and refined ways for the rest of our lives.
To better enable us to learn we are provided with the ability to feel both pleasure and pain. Anything we do that feels good, feels that way because it is satisfying to one or more of our basic needs. Anything we do that feels bad, insufficiently satisfies our needs.
Choice Theory suggests that whether we realise it or not, one of our most motivating needs is for love and belonging; as we all want to feel close to and connected with the people we care about. In fact, it is our relationships with people we care about that largely determines whether or not we feel we lead fulfilling lives.
Dr. Glasser identifies seven connecting and empowering habits (habitual behaviours) that lead to satisfying and fulfilling relationships. Intuitively, it is easy to see how choosing to be supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting and negotiating differences with people we care about would nourish our relationship with them.
In contrast, Glasser describes the seven disconnecting and controlling habits of criticising, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing and bribing or rewarding to control as being deadly to our relationships.
Based on what Choice Theory tells us about these habits and the basic needs, we now know that our dissatisfied teenage son will be so because he has not been able to meet one of his needs. Typically, he will have no idea his dissatisfaction is due to the need-frustration related to something like his need to belong (fit-in with his peer group); his need for power (recognition from teachers); his need for freedom (from parental authority) or his need for fun (playstation not homework). He will complain that his problem is caused by others (teachers or parents) and will focus on complaining and blaming instead of choosing to focus on changing his own behaviour in order to better meet his needs – such as doing the homework that will earn him recognition from his teacher.
As parents who know his behaviour is due to need-frustration, we would choose to use the seven connecting habits to support our son. We do this by respecting and accepting that as a teenager he has not yet fully learned a range of appropriate behaviours to get his needs met; by listening to his perception of the problem and encouraging him to see that he can choose alternative behaviours to deal more effectively with his present problem.
Dr. Glasser’s book, “Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom” is the primary textbook for Choice theory and is available directly from the William Glasser Institute.
For more Free Information on the Seven Connecting Habits and how they can lead to more fulfilling Relationships, please visit www.Quality-Choices.com – where you can also find videos on Personal Empowerment through Choice Theory.
Both Terence J Fisher and Glenys Woolcock are strong supporters of William Glasser’s Choice Theory and Glenys facilitates Quality Choices Workshops in Australia, using certified William Glasser Choice Theory Trainers.
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