Reality Check: What’s your outlook for today?

How are you doing today? We ask and answer that question so many times in our lives—at home, at work, with friends, in casual conversations. Often it’s a throwaway question; just a way of saying something to be polite. However, there are other times when it’s a real question; one where there is genuine interest in the answer.
So I’ll ask again. “How are you doing today?”
My question stems from a perception that there are folks among us who are not doing well at all. And there are valid reasons for distress, with some feeling afraid, suspicious, and angry.
If you happen to be miserable but you can’t put a finger on exactly why (Hint: not everything is Covid) then here’s a Choice Theory explanation that just might help you understand.
Choice Theory suggests that we have five basic needs. When we are feeling content and life is good, we seem to naturally find ways to satisfy those needs. We don’t even think of actions as need-satisfying; they are just what we do to live our lives.
For example, we breathe, eat, sleep, and take care of essentials (survival need.) We get together, talk, share meals, help out friends (love and belonging need.) We play games, laugh, watch movies and pet the cat (fun need.) We go to work, create, build, innovate, and use the money we earn as we see fit (power need.) And we go out to experience the ocean, the forest, the sunset, or go jogging at midnight just because we can (freedom need.)
Now let’s say that we aren’t satisfying our needs. What happens? We’re unhappy. We’re especially unhappy if external circumstances are making it difficult or impossible to satisfy our needs in ways we are accustomed to doing.
Then what? Frustration! While we do have choices in how we respond to our frustration, it’s not unheard of to respond with anger, resentment, guilt, fear, criticism, and so on. We might not recognize that our frustrated responses are symptoms of our unsatisfied needs.
Because so much is different from what used to be the norm, perhaps now is a good time to examine, in a systematic way, whether we are choosing actions that ensure that we are meeting our needs.
For example, we might not associate feeling down with not satisfying our need for love and belonging. Or, we may not recognize our anger as a symptom of not being able to effectively meet our need for power or for freedom.
If one has ongoing fearfulness, might that be associated with an inability to satisfy the security and survival need? And it would certainly diminish our satisfaction if we feel guilty every time we do something to satisfy our need for fun, wouldn’t it?
It’s not always obvious to us when one of our needs is going unsatisfied. We may just have a vague feeling that something is not right.
If that’s the case for you, maybe it’s worth asking, “How am I satisfying each of those needs on a regular basis?” Knowing where the gaps are could improve your chances of finding ways to satisfy them.
So once again, “How are you doing?” Do you think that working on satisfying these needs could make a positive difference for you?

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