Posts tagged “the importance of positive relationships

Good Bye for Now, Kalispell


Margaret and I have been visiting our son and daughter-in-law in Kalispell, Montana, during the last week. In the process we have been reminded of what cold temperatures are like (although locals would laugh at my referring to high 20s and low 30s as cold). Our time together here has been so good, so relaxed. We headed to Spokane yesterday (the weather looked good to get over Lookout Pass) and then home today.

Jordan, Katy, Maggie, and Jim.

Jordan, Katy, Maggie, and Jim.

Kalispell sits next door to Glacier National Park and a couple of days ago we headed there to take in some of its beauty. The low clouds and snow on the ground kept us from exploring or seeing much, though. We’ll save Glacier for our next trip.

Had it been a clear, sunny day, apparently we would have had views like this.

Something we did see was an interesting place on the way to the park. Surrounding three large wooden crosses was an expansive half-circle of billboards, all proclaiming the Ten Commandments, the U.S. needing to be a God-governed place, or anti-abortion messages. The place was closed, so I am not sure about the overall goal of the place. It would seem somebody there wants to change the thinking and behavior of those who pass by. For me, the display of giant signs was a “2 x 4 up side the head” reminder of our human tendency to attempt to change the behavior of others.

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I respect a person’s right to put up large signs proclaiming what they believe to be religious and moral truth, even as I think the signs do much more harm than good. People aren’t drawn to God through “sledgehammer” signs, civil legislation, or threats of impending punishment. Jesus understood the human mind and heart and from the upper room Sinai proclaimed –

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. John 13:34, 35

Thinking that we are supposed to change the beliefs and behaviors of others creates a lot of pressure and tension within us. It is a huge burden to be the conscience and judge of others. Ever desiring our good, Jesus lifts that burden from us and reminds us that the Holy Spirit is an expert at the kind of conviction and convincing that leads to change.

But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. John 16:7, 8

The Holy Spirit will do the convicting. We have been freed from that role. If we want to “change” others there is really only one way, and that is to truly love them, without strings, without demands, without agenda. Christianity has somehow become something Jesus never intended. Christianity isn’t about power or even about being “right.” It is about love and unity.

I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.   John 17:20, 21

God is about relationships. Always has been. Choice theory is about relationships. Always has been. He created us to be in harmony with others, indeed, to love one another. In God’s words there is no stronger example of His way of being.


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You Are Missed, Bill Glasser!

Bill, at home, ready to visit about whatever is on your mind.  (Photo by Jim Roy)

Bill, at home, ready to visit about whatever is on your mind. (Photo by Jim Roy)

William Glasser passed away a year ago today. His legacy includes a long and successful career in which he influenced countless people on how to be mentally healthy and happy in their relationships with others. As the creator of Reality Therapy, Glasser challenged the therapeutic status quo and began to melt the complexity of human psychology; as the creator of Choice Theory, he provided a model of human behavior that even a child can understand, a model that acknowledged basic human needs and wants.

Everybody needs one essential friend.   William Glasser

Although anticipated, his passing left a void organizationally and more importantly, left a void personally within the hearts of those who were seeking and continue to seek to understand his ideas about motivation and behavior. Organizationally, people have stepped up to maintain and even grow the structure of Glasser, Inc. Time will tell regarding the extent to which the organization flourishes or not. For many of us personally, though, this same process is going on within our own hearts and minds. In what ways and to what extent are Glasser’s ideas flourishing within us as individuals? What do his ideas mean to us personally?

Relaxing in the living room with the TV on, although still ready to talk about life. (Photo by Jim Roy)

Relaxing in the living room with the TV on, although still ready to talk about life. (Photo by Jim Roy)

For me personally, the principles of Choice Theory continue to influence my thinking a great deal. Of course, it is one thing to think something and quite another thing to consistently apply that thinking in your life, but Choice Theory brings me back to a good starting point when I get off track. Before becoming acquainted with Choice Theory, I was very capable of choosing to depress and to withdraw in general. Now, after learning about Choice Theory, not so much. Glasser’s ideas have been a kind of psychological immunization against the common mental distressers for me.

It is almost impossible for anyone, even the most ineffective among us, to continue to choose misery after becoming aware that it is a choice.   William Glasser

His explanation of the importance of the relationships in our lives has been very significant for me, especially the idea that our ability to influence a person is directly dependent on our level of connection with him/her. For parents and teachers this is the gold standard of advice. As long as we are connected to our kids we have influence with them. When that connection is severed, usually due to our anger or disgust or coercive approach, so, too, is the influence. It is crazy how flippant we can be with this kind of connection!

Glasser and Albert Ellis, 2005. (Photo by Jim Roy)

Glasser and Albert Ellis, 2005. (Photo by Jim Roy)

Glasser’s biography, Champion of Choice, became available less than four months after his death. So close. People that knew him and worked with him for many years have affirmed the book’s accuracy, which means a lot to me, and people that thought they knew him well have indicated they learned new things about his life from reading the biography. Of special importance to me, though, is the possibility that readers will learn about the principles of Reality Therapy, Choice Theory, mental health, and the whole idea of getting and staying happy.

If everyone could learn that what is right for me does not make it right for anyone else, the world would be a much happier place.   William Glasser

Today (Saturday, Aug. 23) also happens to be my Sabbath, a day designed for rest and contemplation. Glasser’s ideas have certainly been a part of my spiritual journey and have strengthened and enlarged my concepts of total well-being, love, freedom, purpose, and joy. He has been a mentor to me and I will take solace in reflecting on our time together and the positive ways he influenced me – cognitively, emotionally, and even spiritually.

You are missed, Bill. You are missed.

Glasser's writing space, minus his computer, where so much of his creativity was put to the page. (Photo by Jim Roy.)

Glasser’s writing space, minus his computer, where so much of his creativity was put to the page. (Photo by Jim Roy.)

I invite you to respond to this post and share what Glasser or his ideas have come to mean to you since his passing a year ago. I think you need to register on WordPress to submit comments, but the registration is super easy. No big deal. I encourage you to do it and share.


Now priced at $18.20 on Amazon; 16 reviews have been uploaded so far.

Now priced at $18.20 on Amazon; 16 reviews have been uploaded so far.

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