Reality Therapy, also known as “Choice Theory,” was founded by Dr. William Glasser who states that unsatisfying relationships are the cause of people’s pain. He says that the goal of Reality Therapy is to guide people toward more satisfying relationships through making positive choices when dealing with others who are important to them. The way to do this, he says, is for counselors to teach Choice Theory.
Choice Theory posits that we are much more in control of our lives—by our own choices—than we may realize. The foundation of Glasser’s theory is based on the premise of all of us having our own internal control—how we can make the choices that determine our lives. Choice Theory shows us what is wrong with the concept of external control—the idea that someone or something else is driving how we feel and controls our happiness or lack thereof—and introduces us to the concept of internal control and how making our own choices can positively affect how we feel.
Glasser uses a model of a car to demonstrate how this works. In this diagram:
- The car is front-wheel drive
- YOU are the driver
- The front wheels are your “Thoughts” and “Beliefs”
- The rear wheels are your emotional “Feelings” and how you feel “Physically”
There are 3 givens:
- You are the driver of this front-wheel drive car,
- Thoughts (especially the more you keep thinking a certain way) become Beliefs.
- The direction YOU--the driver--turn the steering wheel of this front-wheel drive car is the direction that the rear wheels will naturally follow.
So, if YOU, the driver of your life, choose to turn the wheel toward accurate, positive Thoughts (which, in time, become Beliefs) about yourself or your life--your Feelings and how you feel Physically (the rear wheels) will naturally follow toward the accurate and positive. So, ultimately, this “turn” will leave you, the driver, feeling positive about yourself or your life.
The opposite is also true: if YOU, the driver of your life, choose to turn the steering wheel toward distorted, negative Thoughts (which, in time, become Beliefs) about yourself or your life, your emotional Feelings and how you feel Physically (the rear wheels) will naturally follow toward the distorted and negative. And ultimately, this “turn” will leave you, the driver, feeling negative and having distorted feelings about yourself or your life.
The internal control discussed earlier is in recognizing that YOU control your thoughts and beliefs by which way you steer the car—by your OWN choices!
At Stress Management Counseling Center we can assist you in understanding this principle and putting it to work in your life; to help you to recognize when you’re “steering” toward distorted or negative thinking and helping you to choose to redirect your thoughts toward the accurate and positive; to assist you in practicing this principle in your daily life so that your thoughts about your life are accurate, thereby creating accurate beliefs and, through your own internal control and choices, you can “steer” toward consistency in enjoying more positive emotions and better physical health.