In their holiday message to the reality therapy community, Dr. William and Carleen Glasser sent a wish that we have “a need-satisfying, choice theory New Year filled with joy.”
What would a need-satisfying, choice theory year look like for you?
Choice theory defines five needs: survival, love/belonging, power, freedom, and fun. How do we attempt to satisfy those needs? That depends on you.
For example, if you struggle with money, satisfying your survival need may mean figuring out how to get out of debt.
If you’ve chosen an unsatisfying relationship solely for economic reasons, a more effective way to satisfy your survival need may be to learn how to support yourself.
If your survival need keeps you uneasy and insecure, one effective approach might be to work on developing a new perspective—clarify exactly what security looks like for you.
People are social (even introverts)! The need for love and friendship is powerful, and satisfying it requires knowing at least one person who cares about us. When we’re winning, we need someone to share our great news. When things are sad, disastrous, or simply embarrassing, we need to share that too, to hear someone say, “It’s not so bad” or simply listen.
The freedom need gets our attention when we perceive that someone, perhaps the spouse or the boss, is attempting to externally control us.
If you are missing out on love/belonging, or if you sense a lack of freedom, try giving up external control. That means giving up the attitude of, “I know what’s best for you” and practicing caring habits: listening, encouraging, accepting, supporting… Try treating your spouse, children, or co-workers as friends, rather than people you need to control. See whether that changes your level of satisfaction in the love/belonging and freedom departments!
When you want to succeed, to win, to have things your way, you’re experiencing your need for power. We each have different levels; simply having someone listen to your point of view is one way to satisfy the need for power. Attempting to run other people’s lives (there’s that external control again) is another way to satisfy the power need. The downside, however, is that it’ll likely frustrate your ability to satisfy other needs, like love/belonging or fun, not to mention the misery it creates in the lives of the folks you’re trying to control.
If getting along with people is a real chore for you, then you might be missing out on satisfying your need for fun. Try building a little fun into your activities. It’s even better if that fun is with other folks; you can satisfy that love/belonging need as well!
Learning is one of the finest all-around need-satisfying activities that I can think of (granted, my bias as an instructor is showing here.) Learning can bring you into contact with people (love/belonging), provide confidence and pride when you master something new (power), open up a new world (freedom) and it can even be fun!
I hope that whatever behaviours you choose in this New Year make each day a need-satisfying day for you! How is it so far?