Reality Check: Goals and the Posts That Define Them

The Reality Therapy approach, as structured by Dr. Robert Wubbolding, starts with a fundamental question: “What do you want?”
For many, those wants include benefits for others. For example, I want career success for people I’ve worked with. There’s a troubled relationship that I’d like to see positively resolved for the kids. And I really want to see my friend’s cancer cured too, thank you.
Unfortunately, that list is of things over which I have no control. We do, however, have control over many of our wants, even when it’s not obvious to us. One helpful step toward figuring out our scope of control is to clearly define our wants.
For example, someone may say, “I want to be happy,” or “I want to be safe.” Those are understandable wants. However, what do they mean? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Connecting with others

Have you noticed changes in your relationships over these past few weeks? With the requirements and warnings to stay away from people—to literally isolate ourselves—we’re no longer getting together for in-person gatherings.
Perhaps you’re accustomed to dropping in for a quick visit with friends or family. Maybe you like to attend community events. That’s all off the table for now, and it could be for some time to come.
We also traditionally gather to mark significant changes in people’s lives: births, deaths, birthdays, graduations, weddings and more. All those gatherings signify turning points in people’s lives.
What do we do when we gather at those events? Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Value of Work

Work and workplaces have changed over the past weeks. Some changes are dramatic, with workplaces completely shut down. Other workplaces carry on with relatively minor changes. Whether it’s your work that’s affected, or it’s your experience as a consumer, I’m sure you’ve noticed the changes. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Adaptability and Optimism

A commentator on morning radio recently said, “The world needs a dose of optimism now.” Maybe that’s true. Optimism can help us turn around, look up, and find hope again.
Are you a natural optimist? Some people seem to be. They can respond to almost any event from a “glass half full” perspective and extract any possible positives from it.
For others, optimism doesn’t come so naturally. We have to really work at it to find an upside, especially for difficult events. We immediately see potential downsides—everything that can possibly go wrong. Risks just speak to us.
There are benefits, of course, to both outlooks. The cheerful optimists might forget to guard against dangers, while the pessimists can’t even see the sun shine without remembering that soon it will be nightfall. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Managing our Personal Resources

Some folks are choosing to use the current disruption in their lives as an opportunity to reassess what’s important. That is, they are reassessing how they are using their personal resources.
Every one of us has personal resources, even though we might not always think of them as such. What resources? Money might be the first to come to mind, but there’s also time and relationships.
If we don’t set our priorities, they set themselves by default. Demands pop up; we automatically respond. We can end up spending a lot of our lives in activities that serve little or no satisfying purpose. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Critical Eye

Many people are now spending more time at home. While that may be with people you love and care about, it may also be in close quarters and for some, it must be quite a change.
There’s an interesting difference between being forced to spend time with people versus choosing to do so.
For example, people vacation together. Sometimes they share tiny spaces: campers, hotel rooms, even tents, and they happily get along.
However, require that the same people stay together in a full-sized house for a few weeks with no definitive end in sight, and the dynamic may change. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Tradeoffs in our Choices

Choice-making can be difficult. When you choose one thing, you close the door on something else. Giving up options can be painful.
If one option offered only benefits and another option offered only risks, then the choice hardly qualifies as a decision; it’s clear.
However, real choices—hard choices—entail tradeoffs where each option has both upsides and downsides. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Productive Uses of Time

For many of us, regular routines have been disrupted. It looks like the disruption may go on for quite some time, too.
It’s disconcerting when we can’t go about business as usual. The coffee shop is off limits, so folks can’t meet up with their friends in the morning. Many of us can’t go to our workplaces and do our regular jobs. It’s upsetting, and the uncertainty can be frightening.
Another effect may be confusion. In the course of our regular lives, there’s so much to do. While the things to be done are still there waiting to be done, we can’t do a lot of them now. What do you do when you suddenly have unexpected “free” time? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Thoughts on Going Viral

You’ve already heard about the virus. I’ve been torn about whether to write about it. There is already so much discussion, and I certainly have no medical information to offer. What could I possibly add that might be helpful?
However, there are people who are so stressed, some getting information from less-than-reliable sources, and others who have encouraged me to add my two cents. So, I’ll give it a try.
My first point is about fear of the future. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Forest, the Trees and the Path

Bad news, or the fear of bad news, can take a lot of our energy.
Does that matter? I think so. And it’s not just the selfish sentiment of, “I feel better when I’m happy” kind of mattering, either. The energy we use on the bad and worrying is energy that we can’t spend on other things, like the good and the productive.
Consider your own experience. Compare times when you have been anxious with times when you’ve felt happy, confident, empowered. When were you more likely to help someone else? Continue reading

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