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Are Your Pictures Out of Date?

in Choice Theory

Are Your Photos Out of Date?I think it’s rare to find a theory that can really helped you live your life better, in a day to day way. Choice Theory does that, and is doing it for thousands of people the world over. It’s being taught, through the William Glasser Institute, in countries all over the world.

The power of the Choice Theory is that, in a simple way, it explains what really motivates our behavior. It sheds light on why we do what we do, and how to understand why others do what they do.

Almost everyone has been raised with the notion that the external world, meaning anything outside of yourself, can control you. Have you ever found yourself thinking “…you’re making me so mad”? This is an example of external control psychology, and it’s rampant all over the world. And moreover, it’s profoundly destructive. Why? Because when we believe other people are making us mad, then we begin to attempt to change them, so we can be happy. As everyone knows, this leads down a very treacherous path. If, on the other hand, we understand we are internally driven, it puts the power back in our own hands…and the responsibility too, which is the part most of us don’t like. But before I scare you off, and leave before you finish reading the rest of this blog, let me share the really juicy part of this theory.

Last week I introduced the psychological needs that are genetic, and at the foundational level of our being. How effectively we meet our psychological needs is really the key.

Collecting the Pictures

Imagine from the time you were conceived you started gathering up experiences of you had with people, things, activities, that “feel good,” and are “need-satisfying.” Metaphorically, it’s like creating your own photo album, in your mind, of all your “best pictures” – the important people in your life, the activities you have enjoyed, the objects and foods you love and so on. Dr. Glasser calls this your Quality World, because everything in there is of great value to you.

These “pictures” are extremely specific, and we are very protective of them. The detail in your pictures can be as important as the detail in a movie. Movie-makers know that every detail matters, and can make the difference between a scene being believable, or not. Now, over time you grow and develop, and some things are no longer interesting, fun or meaningful. Your tastes and interests change. One of the challenges, particularly as a parent, is to keep up with all these changes—and this is where it gets really challenging.

The Danger of Outdated Pictures

One time when I was teaching in Australia, I was sharing this idea of a Quality World, and how important and special these “pictures” are. I began to explain the importance of “updating” our Quality World, and what happens if we don’t.

I looked around the room after sharing this information and one woman had gone “white as a ghost.” I thought she was ill, but when I inquired, she said she wasn’t physically ill, she was in shock…emotionally.

She explained that when she was a little girl she had wonderful outdoor experiences with her Mum. They hiked, and canoed, and did all sorts activities. She saw her Mum as a big, strong woman who could handle just about anything.

This woman in my workshop grew up, moved away from home, married and had children of her own. She began telling her children all about the wonderful adventures she had with her mother, and the children could hardly wait to go see Grandma.

Upon arriving at Grandma’s home, the children raced inside expecting Grandma to be ready for a big adventure. Instead, Grandma, who was now many years older, was riddled with arthritis and in chronic pain, and could hardly even stand up. She couldn’t “deliver” what the children were hoping for, and so instead got cross with them for wanting an “adventure.”

This visit quickly deteriorated into an argument between mother and daughter, and ended with tears on both sides. How had this happened? What had gone wrong?

For years this remained a mystery for this mother until, sitting in the class and hearing about what happens when we don’t “update” our pictures, the lights suddenly went on. She saw how her unwillingness to acknowledge her mother’s aging caused great harm. It can be terribly destructive when we are unwilling to “see” our children maturing or our parents aging.

Take a Look In Your Own Quality World Picture Album… What Needs to be Updated?

For this week I would like to encourage you to think about the “pictures” you have in your Quality World. Do you have pictures that simply can’t be matched, or are outdated? As a parent, do you talk to your children as if they are younger than they really are? Are your ideas of what a relationship should be like, reflections of your present ideas, or are they based on the past?

We often form pictures of the perfect job, partner, vacation, etc., when we are young, but unfortunately they are often “idealized” images and rarely resemble reality. When life or people don’t match our pictures we may blame or attack them but, really, whose pictures are they? They are ours, and we have the power to examine them, and make changes.

Whenever you see someone upset, ask yourself, “What picture do they have in their mind of what they want?” If you ask them the same question you may find you have a very enlightening conversation.

Have a great week, be curious about yourself and others, and may you make some wonderful discoveries!


8 comments… add one
  • Bette

    Fabulous example Lynn. Love your posts.

  • Lucy Scott

    Hi Lynn:
    Enjoyed your piece on Quality World. Succinct, and understandable to anyone reading/learning about RTCT for the first time and the impact this theory can have on our lives. Well done!

    • Hi Lucy,
      Thanks for the note and I hope these blog posts encourage people to look into Choice Theory and its applications more closely. Hope I see you at the William Glasser conference in July.

  • Lenora Hayman

    Thanks Lynn-I recently remet a High School pal whom I had not seen or heard of for 53 years. The years just melted away during that precious hour as we reminisced over the good old days & accepted the changes in our lives as “updated the photo of ourselves”!

    • Hi Lenora,
      Yes it is amazing how time can just disappear when we are connected. This is actually the key to staying current with your pictures. Often parents get less connected with their teenagers as they become more and more independent. This is just the opposite of what you want. The closer and more connected you stay the more up-to-date you will be. Thanks so much for sending me you note.

  • Sheila Reed

    I’m pleased to report how much my life has changed since I’ve seen you. I love the person I am. I was unwilling to “change back to the person I was” when I visited my relatives in Malaysia.

    I was ostracised by my family but I was able to remain strong and survive all manipulations. Letting go of this dysfunctional family relationship with no regrets is the best gift I’ve given myself. My voice no longer tremors when I speak, I feel worthy and confident. I love my life:)

    Thank you so very much for helping me find my authentic self.

    • Hi Sheila,

      I am so delighted to see your comments and congratulations on your progress and the journey you have taken. You are a wonderful example of someone who has had lots of challenges but you have NOT let them define who you are.
      You are so welcome and we appreciate the courage you showed in persisting!!! Have a great summer and please keep in touch.

  • Fay Hextall

    Hi Lynn,
    Thank-you for sharing. I’m in the middle of a move to Coquitlam..We love the wide open spaces so decided on Coquitlam . I’m packing up as we speak & we can’t move in until October..which is going to have us (me) @ the lake for a good part of the summer. Hope to see you one place or the other..I’m pretty happy to be moving to the mainland.
    Take care, Fay..

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