Control behavior and own feelings? : LUSENET : GLASSER Choice Theory & Reality Therapy : One Thread

At first blush, Choice Theory can seem to be saying that we can and do directly control our feelings. I know people who have dismissed it for this reason. In reality, I believe CT to be saying that we directly control our behavior and indirectly control our feelings via our behavior. I understand CT to be saying that we should assume responsibility for our behavior (as we directly choose it) and ownership of our feelings (as they are most often the indirect result of our behavior). Is this correct?

-- Tom Cheney (, April 15, 2003


The concept of total behaviour is a difficult one to grasp and also difficult to explain. A simple explanation might be that we "buy into" a 'package', or system, of total behaviour. In one such, the action part might be: sitting staring at a blank wall(or perhaps staying in bed longer than normal), slouching your shoulders, sighing etc..The thinking element might be :"I am worthless and life has no meaning and I wish I were dead". The feeling component may be a gringing, debiliting, feeling of sorrow and despair. The physiological component is the normal physiology of a person engaging in the total behaviour of 'depressing'. It is a system, a package, one element does not necessarily CAUSE the other yet all are inextricably linked and interdependent. It is evident that behaviour,or action, is the element most under our control and also, to a limited extent, we have control over our thinking in that it is sometimes possible to change our thought process. If we make a decision to change our behaviour I.E. if we go out and play tennis then we buy into a new total behaviour of "Tennising" and this will have a different feeling and thinking component and it will also generate a new body physiology as part of its system.Thus if we choose the new total behaviour of tennis we can also be said to have choosen the feelings and physiology that are an integral part of it. I have not heard of the other therapies you mention, but I find myself agreeing very much with the thoughts expressed.

-- ken lyons (, April 16, 2003.

Last weekend, there was a road rage incident in our area, resulting in bad injuries to the victims of the road rage incident. In fact, one was so badly hurt, he was sent to Seattle to Harborview Hospital. I used this incident to bring two things to mind with our students--our components can affect each other adversely regarding our treatment of others and our own consequences and the negative correlation existing between Anger and Judgment--the higher the degree of Anger, the poorer the judgment. Meaning, we can make poor decisions when angry unless we go through our Thinking component prior to Acting.

The incident occurred three days ago. The driver fled the scene. In the news today, an article told of how he turned himself in to the state patrol. I posed the question, prior to telling the group of how he turned himself in, "Would any of you want to be around anyone like this?" Only negative responses were to be heard in the room. I then said, "We are all the time." Anger happens to all of us, but most think carefully before going to our Acting Component.

Anger turns to rage, rage encourages drastic harmful acts, anger soon dissipates, leaving deep regret, sadness, and guilt. I feel for the victims and the offender. Think "NO" to road rage. TD

-- Ted Donato (, May 13, 2003.

Hello again Tom! I can see that you are really thinking about Choice Theory ideas and incorporating them into your personal understanding. In addition to these excellent comments, I wanted to tell you that I remember in the early days Bill taught us that behavior was the easiest component to access. Try this: (1) Raie ytoiur right hand, (2) Think orange, (3) Feel happy. (or sad or you could use any feeling word). When one does this exercise in a room full of people, there is always consensus as to which component is the most accessible. It is probably easier to act your way into a new way of feeling than to feel your way into a new way of acting. In AA, one of the adages is "Fake it till you make it," and this shows the wisdom of accessing behavior first. LeFevre cautions this with addicts and reminds us that addicts are feeling people and sometimes you have to enter in the feeling component and then move into thinking and acting which is why so many loving and effective interventions work. LeFevre used to say that behavior is the target door but not the entry door. Even in the talking about Total Behavior, it may seem as though these components are separate but in fact they are inextricably integrated and complicated. In counseling, I use alot of thinking and reframing to impact the feeling and acting components. Total Behavior is a distinctive characteristic of Glasserian psychology, and very central to the work. It is great that you are so thoughtful about it. With the road rage as discussed in your Q and A, it's possible that a number of chemicals limit access to the thinking component (eg cortisol) and a person would have to develop a more efficient internal system to access thinking. (In schools, we provide rocking chairs to kids in a high cortisol state.) So it is possible it works like this: a person thinks "damn! I am going to be late and I can't be late for this appointment," and that is follwed by an increase in stress which releases the cortisol. So the work would havbe to be to reframe the thinking. EG: "It looks like I should invest in a car phone to communicate this situation," or "Maybe I should cross the center median and find an alternate route." OR "Everyone here is doing the best we can do and it is surely a sorry mess!" Some cities have traffic conditions on a certain radio wave or via car phones and these can be useful in determining an alternate route. You can see that accessing these are all total behaviors which could in fact reduce the cortisol potentiality.

-- suzy hallock-bannigan (, August 12, 2003.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ