Reality Check: Overcoming Reach-Out Hesitancy

Even when our lives are going poorly, it’s still possible to feel satisfied if we have good connections with people.
Dr. Wm. Glasser refers to a basic need for love and belonging. While he suggests that the need is universal, the specifics of how we satisfy it can differ from person to person. Some need many close relationships; others need only one to satisfy this need.
However, if we consider only close relationships, we might dismiss the value of our casual connections. For example, we see people at work, school, in the neighbourhood or at social events. We often form friendships there, and while we share the joy of new babies and the sadness of deaths and illnesses, we don’t necessarily share heart-to-heart confidences. Maybe we hear a little news or gossip that brightens our day. Do those interactions make a difference in our lives?
My instinctive belief has been that they do matter. That was reinforced by a study recently published by the American Psychological Association (APA) titled, “The Surprise of Reaching Out: Appreciated More Than We Think.” Continue reading

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Reality Check: True to Our Chosen Self

You’ve heard the slogan, “Be true to yourself.” Combine that with a picture of a beautiful person gazing into a magnificent nature scene and you have a great poster.
It sounds like good advice, too. I mean, you’d hardly advise someone to “be false to yourself,” would you?
Let’s examine it more carefully, though. What does being true to yourself mean? Is it effective advice for someone who wants to live a satisfying life? Continue reading

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Reality Check: When the Choice Isn’t Clear

How do you make decisions? We’re influenced by experience, preferences, perhaps trustworthy advice. And there are emotions, too. When we’re feeling fearful, angry or resentful, we likely won’t make the same decisions as when we are brimming with confidence, love, and hope.
Regardless of the process, for many decisions our options are clear and we choose—for better or worse.
However, sometimes we face decisions where choices aren’t clear. Despite listing pros and cons, seeking advice and having gut feelings, we don’t know what to do.
If so, here’s a thought for you. In Take Charge of Your Life, Dr. Glasser distinguishes between “true conflict” and “false conflict.” Continue reading

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Reality Check: Baggage Handling

When we’re young and excited about accumulating stuff, it’s hard to imagine that someday, we’ll view those once-precious objects that we struggled to acquire as just taking up space.
The more room we have for stuff, the more stuff we accumulate. Stuff expands to fill the space available, you know.
Many people are familiar with downsizing, whether they want to or not. It’s a choice-making process—what to keep, what goes. It can be difficult, especially if your values include never getting rid of anything while it still has a scrap of usefulness left. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Distinguishing Events from Responses

“The pandemic affected almost every aspect of our lives.” Like you, I’ve heard statements similar to that over recent years. It’s been said both in casual conversations and in media. This time, for some reason, it struck me as being a little off. “Is that really true?” I wondered.
Now you’re thinking, “That’s a silly comment. Of course it’s true! Just look around; see all that’s changed.” You would be correct. Many lives have changed; yours and mine among them.
However, my question isn’t about whether our lives have changed. My curiosity is: Are the changes due to the pandemic? Or are many of the changes due to responses to the pandemic? Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Case for Living Optimistically

Are you surrounded by messages of hope or messages of disaster? Maybe you’re thinking of a tragic story or situation right now. After all, good news doesn’t seem to abound on the TV screen, facebook page, or even in the newspaper!
If we have influences in our life that lead us to believe that we have a future of optimism and opportunity, then we’ll likely take different actions than if we anticipate a future of fear and gloom, constantly expecting catastrophe right around the corner.
I was reminded of how fear affects action by a recent Psychology Today article entitled Fear Shrinks Life by Dr. Scott F. Stanley. He says, “Having hope for the future affects how we live in the present…” He also makes the excellent point that the world is a mess, but…it has been for a long time! Continue reading

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Reality Check: The “En” and “Dis” of Courage

In Take Charge of Your Life, Dr. William Glasser lists seven relationship-building habits. One of those habits—encouragement—has popped up in these columns numerous times over the years.
Notice how “en-courage” and “dis-courage” both involve “courage.” One increases courage; the other decreases courage.
You might picture courage as fire fighters entering burning buildings or police running toward the sound of shooting. Fortunately, life is not all burning buildings and gunfights. While other situations may not require those levels of courage, ordinary events can require courage too. Continue reading

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Reality Check: A Change of Mind

Like me, I suspect that you sometimes change your mind about small things. For example, you were going to have chicken but Johnny said, “The fish is really good here,” so you changed your mind. Johnny’s comment is new information. Sometimes we choose to act on new information by making a change.
We’re not likely to get upset with Johnny for offering his opinion of the fish. We might agree, disagree, or ignore. But how about when Johnny expresses an opinion that challenges a closely held belief? Examples could include politics, religion, social justice, relationships, even life and death. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Effect of Small Encouragements

Vera is a seasoned citizen, and like every other grown-up, she’s becoming more seasoned by the day! Because she wants this phase of her life be as positive and productive as possible, she’s adopted various practices. Her plan is to do what she can to reduce the downsides and enhance the upsides of growing older.
I suspect that we all know what activities help and what hinders healthy aging. But knowing is not the same as doing, is it? Vera is keen on doing. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The State of Stuck

When you’re thinking about places you’d like to visit, I suspect that the State of Stuck isn’t on your list. For one thing, it’s not even a place; it’s a state of mind.
What I’m calling the State of Stuck is the nagging frustration that comes with believing we’re not making progress. Some of us spend uncomfortably long periods of time there.
If you are not familiar with this state, then please happily carry on with your life. This discussion is for folks who know very well how it feels to be stuck and who would like to start moving. Continue reading

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