Posts tagged “choice theory and the holidays

Wisdom from Christmas’s Past


The holidays are uniquely wonderful, in that they are (to name a few) a reminder of that which is most important in life, they bring loved ones and families together, there is a lot of giving going on, and the music and decorations are cool. (Well, most of the music and decorations.) The holidays are uniquely challenging, too, in that they remind us (to also name a few) how far we have drifted from that which is most important in life, they bring families together, in spite of the anger and pain directed at each other during the past year, there is a lot of taking going on, and the music and decorations are .  .  . well .  .  . cheesy. Over the last several years, The Better Plan blog has addressed the holidays through the lens of choice theory. The links to these posts are included below. May they be a help during this wonderful time of the year!




New Year Resolutions were covered in –

I’m Makin a Change, Dagnabit! Pt. 1

Dagnabit! Pt. 2




Keeping our eyes on the Reason for the Season was covered in –

Choice Theory and Christmas


The S actually stands for Self-Control.

The S actually stands for Self-Control.


The challenges that so many face during the holidays, and how choice theory can help, was covered in –

The Holidays Require All of Our Choice Theory Superpowers




Here’s a heads up on a link worthy of your attention. Dr. David Hanscom, the spine surgeon who writes so effectively about the Mind Body Connection, shares his thoughts on, what for many is, the pain of the holidays –

Happy Holidays – Not

Choice theory certainly affirms the importance of the mind body connection. We are, as the Bible says, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” How the mind affects the body, and vice versa, continues to be studied, even as answers remain elusive. For me, it is clear that our ability to make choices when it comes to our thoughts and our behavior is a key to our living in balance. Life is difficult, and there is no way around it. For some, the holidays distract us from the difficulty, while for others they do just the opposite. In either case, choice theory can help. Check out the links above. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Seek gratitude. Reach out to others.


The Glasser biography, Champion of Choice, is a good read. Really. The book traces the development of Reality Therapy and its connection to Control Theory, as well as control theory ultimately becoming Choice Theory. A unique self-help book!

The book that connects the dots of William Glasser's ideas and his career.

The book that connects the dots of William Glasser’s ideas and his career.


The Holidays Require All of Our Choice Theory Superpowers

The S actually stands for Self-Control.

The S actually stands for Self-Control.

Even though the Holidays are supposed to be . . . well . . . the Holidays, many of us struggle to get through them with our mental health intact. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are supposed to be joyous, need-fulfilling occasions, right? So what’s with the pain and dysfunction?

The Holidays can be joyous and warm and need-fulfilling, however they can also accentuate things that are emotionally or physically painful for us. For instance –

+ the loss of loved ones is more keenly felt;
+ family estrangements show up in stark relief;
+ dysfunctional behavior often comes out during family reunions;
+ we sense our own aloneness more;
+ illnesses and physical disabilities tempt us toward deeper discouragement; and
+ we experience financial stress from pressure to buy presents or travel.

Like a superhero, choice theory can help us stay in the driver’s seat when it comes to our thinking and our emotions. Consider some of the superpower elements of choice theory –

+ We can directly control our thinking.
Amazing, really! Choice theorists learn to recognize when negative or destructive thoughts intrude on their consciousness and choose to reject them and to think about something that is happier and more productive.

It is Christmas eve morning and Jill feels weighed down emotionally. After waking up she lies in bed and just gets sadder and sadder over the passing of her mother nine months earlier. She started having thoughts of staying in bed, and maybe even not going to the party that evening that she had been looking forward to. The thought flitted across her mind that she was starting her own pity party right then for some reason and she decided to nip it in the bud. “I do miss my mother terribly, but staying in bed and feeling bad about it isn’t going to help. I’ve got stuff to do today and I want to go the party tonight.” She swings her legs out from under the covers and puts her feet on the floor, ready to take one step at a time. “Hmm . . . should I get in the shower or start the coffee?”


+ We set the thermostat for our personal lives.
We place very specific pictures in the quality world photo albums in our heads and then we try to make those pictures come to life. One of the premier superpowers of choice theory is recognizing the importance of these pictures and then being able to manage them well. The photo album is very much like a thermostat in that in both cases we intentionally and strategically set the course of our lives.

Geoff really doesn’t want to put up Christmas lights on the house. He usually does it by himself, it’s cold, and it takes a lot of time. As a result he comes up with a lot of reasons not to put up the lights – “I don’t even know where the lights are stored” or “I am really jammed for time this year” or “I don’t want to put lights up when so many people are hurting in the world.” Monica, his wife, really likes it when the house has Christmas lights and she comes up with reasons to make that happen – “the lights are in the garage” and “we’ll be the only house without lights” and “it means so much to the kids.” They remained entrenched in their QW pictures until Geoff pointed out that he felt overwhelmed adding Christmas lights to his To Do List and Monica responded that she understood and offered to help him with the project. They actually had fun together getting it done.


+ Our feelings do not need to control us.
Feelings, be they helpful or not, are a part of our total behavior. They are aligned with our thinking and our actions, both of which are under our direct control. We may not have direct control over our feelings, but we have a great deal of control over our behavior. Our feelings can’t hijack our happiness unless we give them that power.

Carl does not want to go to his family reunion. As far as he is concerned his sisters are jerks who manipulate their parents into all kinds of bad decisions. He gets angry whenever he thinks about it. Choice theory could help Carl learn the difference between the Caring and the Deadly Habits. Instead of his feelings automatically taking him to blaming, complaining, and punishing, he could learn to accept his loved ones, flaws and all, truly listen to them, and try to negotiate with them without disconnecting.

Other choice theory superpowers include –

+ Recognizing that our personal view of reality is just that, our personal view, our interpretation of the facts as we see them.
+ Understanding that, to a very great degree, we create our reality.
+ Breaking the chains of victimhood and taking responsibility for our thinking and our behavior.

The Holidays are a special time of year that tends to intensify our emotions and our thinking. If ever there is a time of year in which choice theory is needed to help us navigate our circumstances, the Holidays are the time.

Here’s to our mental health for 2015!



The Glasser biography is easy (and cheaper, too, at just $10) to get for your iPad or Kindle by going to the following link –

Now priced at $18.50 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.50 on Amazon.

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