Choice theory

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You might wonder what is a ‘CHOICE THEORY’ ? Defined in simple words, it is actually an explanation of all human behavior developed. (Dr. William Glasser)

Basically, there are five components of this theory:
– the basic human needs,
– the quality world,
– the perceived world,
– the comparing place and
– total behavior.

Here is a brief overview of each of them, starting with the five basic human needs.

The basic human needs
We are all born with five basic human needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun. Born with these needs, we experience them to varying degrees. One person might have a high love and belonging need, while another person is high in freedom. Born with these needs and biologically driven to get them, we met them in the best way available to us.

The quality world
This is the place that exists inside all of us, where we store pictures of things that have satisfied one or more of our basic needs in the past, or things we think may satisfy them in the future. These things do not necessarily have to meet society’s definition of quality. The two requirements for entry into the quality world are that they meet one or more of our needs and it feels good.

The perceived world
There is so much to be said about the perceived world, but all I want to say is that we each have our own perceptions of the world. Our sensory system takes in information through sight, touch, sound, taste and scent. This is why we all have unique ways of processing that information based on our life experiences, our culture, and our values.

The main thing to remember about the perceived world is that if you encounter others whose perceived world does not match yours, it does not mean one of you is wrong. This simply means that you are different. Remembering this simply statement will reduce much of the disagreements and fighting that occurs in people’s lives. By acceptance this fact it means that we could give up the need to convince others of our point of view. We could simply accept the fact that we see things differently and move on.

The comparing place
The comparing place is where we weigh what we want from our quality world, against our perceptions on what we believe we are actually getting. It is good to know that when these two things match, all is well.

When our perceptions and quality world don’t line up, or when we perceive we are not in possession of the things we want, then we are driven to action to get those things we are thinking about. People generally do not make a lot of progress, nor they change the things they are currently doing, unless they are in some degree of discomfort. The greater the pain the more motivation to try something different.

The conventional wisdom tells us that if we want what is best for other people in our lives, then it is our responsibility to raise their pain level to get them to do things differently because we generally know what is best for them.

But this is wrong. We can only know what is best for ourselves!! Remember – our perceived worlds are all different, we have unique values and experiences. How can we possibly know what is best for someone else when we have not been in their skin or lived their life? We can only know what is best for ourselves!!

Total behavior
There are two important things about behavior. One is that all behavior is purposeful and two that all behavior is total. Let us begin with the idea that all behavior is total.

There are four inseparable components of behaviour: action, thinking, feeling and physiology. These exist simultaneously during any given behavior in which we engage. The first two components-acting and thinking, are the only components over which we can have direct control. If we want to change how we are feeling or something that is happening in our bodies (physiology), then we must first consciously change what we are doing or how we are thinking.

Since all behavior is purposeful, all behavior is our best attempt to get something we want. We are never acting in response to some external stimulus, but are acting proactively to get something we want. For example, when I would yell at my son to clean his room after asking him nicely several times, I was not yelling, because my son “made me mad” I was yelling because I was still using my best attempt to get him to do what I wanted, which was to clean his room. This seems like I am splitting hairs, but this is an important distinction to make when you are attempting to move from a victim’s role to that of an empowered person.

The implications
Choice theory rids us of the idea that people are “misbehaving”, as all that anyone is doing is their best attempt to get something they want. Of course, in this process, they may break laws, disregard rules and hurt others, but those are really side effects of doing the best they know how to get their needs met. We are all doing our best to some of us, simply to have better tools, resources and behaviors at our disposal than others.

If we embrace Choice theory’s concepts, then our function should be more to educate and help others self-evaluate the effectiveness of their behavior. Very often, they will continue to do things exactly as they have because that is familiar and/or because what they are doing is actually getting them something they want. It is not our job to stop them, nor to rescue them from the consequences of their own behavior.

What we can do is make our best attempt to help others evaluate the effectiveness of their behavior and to choose a different way, that perhaps is not against the rules or does not hurt the person or someone else. Upon this, we need to get out of the way and let the situation play out. This may seem hard to do if you aren’t doing your job as a parent, teacher, counselor, or supervisor but think about the question – what is the alternative?

When you attempt to force, coerce or bribe another person to do things he or she does not want to do, you might be successful. You might be able to find the right reward or create a painful enough consequence to get another person to do what you want, but in doing so, you are breeding resentment and contempt. In this case your relationship will suffer. If you believe, that relationship is the root of all influence, then you are losing your ability to influence another by using external control.

Having a brief introduction of the behavior of choices, it is up to you to choose which way in life you will take and which decisions you will make. When it comes to education and distance learning, the choices are increasing with every single day, all you need is to make the first step and choose the way you want to upgrade your knowledge.

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