Reality Check: Auto-Pilot and Conscious Choices

The traffic light turns red. We stop. Well, most of us do, anyway.
Did the traffic light make us stop? Not really. We could have gone sailing through, possibly causing injury and mayhem. But we choose not to do that because we know the rule—Stop on a red light. We don’t even think about it; it’s as if we’re operating on auto-pilot. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Sharp Edge

Criticism is a double-edged sword, and that sword can have one very sharp edge. I say it’s “double-edged,” because some criticism may be intended to be helpful (referred to as “constructive criticism.”) More likely, however, criticism results in hurt rather than help.
Criticism that is delivered with genuinely helpful intent might be better referred to as feedback. Honest, useful feedback gives us information. It’s essential if we are to learn and grow, but it’s different from criticism.
Dr. William Glasser lists criticism as one of the seven deadly habits for relationships, and he’s not alone. Way back in the 1930’s, Dale Carnegie identified criticism as a barrier to “winning friends and influencing people.”
However, people will still criticize. Sooner or later, both you and I will find ourselves on the receiving end. What do we do then? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Fables and Values

What values guide your life? Where did your values come from?
When I refer to values, I’m thinking of qualities such as loyalty, trustworthiness, prudence, generosity, perseverance, compassion, respect, work. There are many more.
My curiosity about values was inspired by a recent conversation with a woman I’ll call Jo. She’d witnessed an acquaintance being unnecessarily rude to a stranger. Jo said, “You don’t treat people like that! At least, that’s not how I was brought up.”
I share Jo’s value of respectful treatment, whether it’s toward strangers, friends, the powerful or the powerless. But values-based choices aren’t always so cut and dried. Our values can sometimes lead to conflict, even within ourselves. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Step by Step

Different people like different things. One clear example is in food preparation. Some people love recipes; others hate recipes. Some of us like to follow procedures; others don’t.
If you like procedures, then you might like Dr. Bob Wubbolding’s four-step Reality Therapy procedure. He calls it WDEP: Want, Doing, Evaluate, and Plan.
The four steps are deceptively simple. I remember my first reaction when I learned the process—it seemed simplistic and impractical for real problems. I was mistaken. The four steps have proven useful in my own problem-solving and as suggestions for others. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Running for the Roses

It’s extraordinary when a little guy—an outsider—unexpectedly wins a big event. This year’s Kentucky Derby was notable for exactly that: a huge 80-1 win by Rich Strike, a horse that just the day before didn’t look like he was going to get to run the race at all.
The race didn’t spark much interest for me until I happened to see a background story. Turns out that tragedy had struck the trainer, Eric Reed, a few years back. He’d lost a number of horses in a barn fire. Animal lovers know that losing an animal in the best of circumstances is difficult enough. That kind of loss must have been devastating.
We sometimes interpret events as having broader meanings— “they’re telling us something.” Continue reading

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Reality Check: Patience and Purpose

“Your call is important to us.” While waiting on the phone, listening to horrible music occasionally interrupted by that non-reassuring message, I had the gift of time to think about patience.
You may have opportunities to think about patience, too. For example, if you’d like to build something, you are probably waiting—for supplies, for people, for call-backs. Perhaps you have a need for health services. That often entails waiting, doesn’t it? Or maybe you are sitting in front of a computer screen, watching that blue circle go round and round. Waiting.
We can wait patiently. Or impatiently. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Dashboards of our Lives

For some of us, a “dashboard” refers to a collection of lights and indicators in a vehicle. For others, a dashboard brings to mind a webpage that shows system status and controls. In either case, a dashboard provides information about the health of a system. It’s a window into what’s going on.
In “Understanding Reality Therapy: A Metaphorical Approach” Dr. Bob Wubbolding draws a connection between human feelings and the indicators on a dashboard. If you struggle with feelings that seem to take over your life, then you may find this perspective useful.
A lit warning light on a dashboard provides information, for example, the oil level is low. The light itself is not the problem. It’s what the light indicates that’s the problem (or potential problem.) Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Present Day

After an absence, we may pick up the strands of connection by asking, “How are you doing?” When I reconnected with Becca, who is well-versed in Dr. Glasser’s Choice Theory, I was pretty sure of an interesting answer. I was not disappointed.
Becca said, “Life is better since I learned to live in the present.”
“How do you manage that?” I asked. “Practice,” said she. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Body, Mind and Feelings

“You won’t gag if you hum.” This I learned from a dental professional. It’s true—you don’t even have to carry a tune! Who knew? This practical little trick reminds me of other connections between actions and physiology.
Dr. William Glasser defines “behaviour” a little differently than we usually do. He refers to “total behaviour” with four components: action, thought, feeling and physiology. Continue reading

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Reality Check: When Times Are Tough

At some point, I suspect that everyone faces a tough time. Your tough time could look quite different from my tough time. However, all of our tough times may have more in common than we’d think.
When something interferes with our ability to satisfy our basic needs, we experience frustration. For example, one basic need is survival. Illness or injury can put this fundamental need at risk. Other challenges, such as struggles with work, school, or finances might not sound as serious, but they could also be perceived as threatening our ability to survive. Continue reading

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