Reality Check: Our “What We Want” World

Dr. Wm. Glasser’s book, “Take Charge of Your Life” includes a chapter entitled “The Pictures in our Heads.”
Does the concept of pictures in your head make sense to you? Do you have pictures in your head? Are they vivid pictures? Or are they of the vague, wishy-washy variety?
Glasser states that 80% of our stored perceptions are visual; thus, “pictures in our heads.”
According to choice theory, some of those pictures are very important to us. These important pictures are specific pictures of people, experiences, objects, beliefs, values —whatever it is that we believe will satisfy our needs. Essentially, these are pictures of what we want.
He refers to that collection of pictures as our “quality world.” You could think of it as our “what we want” world.
When we find something new that satisfies a need, we add it to that quality world. For example, an unexpectedly warm conversation with an acquaintance may satisfy our need for belonging, so that person may be added to our quality world.
On the other hand, we might perceive that we’ve been betrayed by someone we had trusted. That person—that picture—who was in our quality world is now no longer need-satisfying and no longer appears in our quality world.
We use this collection of pictures as a standard for comparison. We compare the life that we are living with our “what-we-want” pictures—the life we want to live.
Do our quality world and our reality pretty much correspond? If so, then our needs are being satisfied. We feel happy, content. If they are at odds; however, then we are not so happy at all.
I find the idea of the quality world useful because it provides another way of viewing what we can and can’t control. If we have a rigid picture in our quality world of how something “should” be, but it’s not under our control, then it’s difficult to be satisfied.
For example, Flo has a fixed idea that her grandchildren should pay her a weekly visit. In Flo’s quality world, those visits satisfy her need for love/belonging, for fun, perhaps even her need for power/recognition.
When the kiddies were small, they loved being with Flo. Visiting satisfied their needs too; Flo was in their quality world pictures much like they were in hers. Now teenagers, their need-satisfying pictures are different. They’ve found different ways to satisfy their needs for love and fun; Flo has not.
Flo doesn’t have control over her grandchildren (or anybody else.) She could use guilt, manipulation, bribery, or coercion to get what she wants. You may have seen people do that! It might seem to work in the short term. But it doesn’t build a very good lasting relationship, does it?
So, what can Flo do? What does she control?
Just as we put pictures into our quality world, we can change them, add new ones and remove old ones. We have some control over a quality world picture that doesn’t work for us anymore. If it can’t be satisfied, we can change it.
If Flo looks at her quality world from the perspective of what needs are going unfulfilled, rather than the perspective of “they should want to visit me,” she may find it a little easier to look for alternative ways to satisfy her needs.
Flo’s visit requirement could be replaced with a different kind of connection: activities, meals, calls, etc.
I believe that the most effective communication method for many situations is to say exactly what you mean. Flo could approach her grandchildren with, “I would like to see more of you. How might we do that?” See what happens. You never know what you might learn.
What do you think of the idea of quality world pictures?

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