Posts tagged “the importance of the quality world

Trading Life for Looks

I saw some data from recent research that, unfortunately, brought to mind The Better Plan blog from January 22, 2013, which was titled Give Me Victory or Give Me Death. You can click on the title to take a  look at the post, but basically it described the results of a survey given to elite athletes where half of them admitted that they would trade their lives for success in their particular sport. The article commented on how powerful the basic needs are in our lives, as well as how central the quality world is in choosing the behaviors we see as need-satisfying. Toward the end of the post I wrote that –

SI cover

Until athletes, and the rest of us for that matter, understand the concept of the basic needs and the scrap book (quality world) process of meeting those needs, our rules and punishments will have very marginal success at best, and actually be counterproductive at worst. We need to understand that people are always acting in what they think is their best interest at the moment. Whether a recreational cyclist who drinks water before heading out on a ride to get in better shape or a professional cyclist who dopes before heading out on the next leg of the competition, both are doing what they think is best. Based on the pictures they pre-determined in their mental scrap books, their behavior is rational. Maybe not right or ethical, but rational.


In similar ominous fashion, recent research out of the UK has found that 30 percent of women would trade at least one year of their life to achieve their ideal body weight and shape. Once again we have evidence of people, in this case women, who are willing to trade their lives for a picture in their quality world. The data revealed that in order to achieve their ideal body weight and shape –

  • 16% would trade 1 year of their life
  • 10% would trade 2-5 years of their life
  • 2% would trade 6-10 years of their life
  • 1% would trade 21 years or more of their life

Further data revealed that –

  • 46% of the women surveyed have been ridiculed or bullied because of their appearance.
  • 39% of the women surveyed reported that if money wasn’t a concern they would have cosmetic surgery to alter their appearance. Of the 39% who said they would have cosmetic surgery, 76% desired multiple surgical procedures. 5% of the women surveyed have already had cosmetic surgery to alter their appearance.
  • 79% of the women surveyed reported that they would like to lose weight, despite the fact that the majority of the women sampled (78.37%) were actually within the underweight or ‘normal’ weight ranges. Only 3% said that they would like to gain weight.
  • 93% of the women surveyed reported that they had had negative thoughts about their appearance during the past week. 31% had negative thoughts several times a day.

There is so much to say here, yet you probably could respond to this data as well as me. I think of the quality world as the My Needs Met world (MNM). It is hard to overstate the importance of the pictures we create and store in our personal My Needs Met storage system. So important are these pictures, so valuable are they to us, that in some cases we are willing to trade our lives for them.

There are influences around us that invite us and pressure us to create these pictures. Applause and adulation invites us to trade our lives for a trophy; media pressure invites us, especially women, to trade self-acceptance for self-loathing and constant efforts to be different, even if it means going under the knife. Such pressure and invitations are external to us, though. They can beckon, but they cannot enter our quality world without our consent. We put pictures into our quality world and we can take them out. There are quality world pictures that are worth dying for. Let’s really make sure they are the right pictures.

* An article on the study out of the UK can be found here.


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Help from the Iceberg


There is something fascinating about icebergs – the way they fall into the sea from their glacial upbringing, their massive size and heft, and the mysteries and stories that surround them. The fateful sinking of the unsinkable Titantic in 1912 is a famous example of iceberg lore.

Partly because the fresh water from which icebergs are formed is less dense that the salt water in which they float, only about 10% of the iceberg is visible above the water line. This is where the phrase “tip of the iceberg” comes from. The part of the iceberg you can see may look huge, but it is only a small fraction of its total size. It’s the 90% underneath the water that really forms the mass of the iceberg.


The science of an iceberg has actually helped me to understand some elements of choice theory a little better. Two of choice theory’s key elements include 1) the basic needs, and 2) the quality world. For me, the basic needs include –

Purpose and Meaning
Love and Belonging
Power and Achievement
Freedom and Autonomy
Fun and Joy
Survival and Safety

As a review –

Every human being has a unique set of basic needs that were passed on from his/her biological parents.
While every person arrives with a set of basic needs, no one arrives with instructions on how to meet them. From birth to death we are involved with learning to effectively meet our needs.
Our basic needs vary. A person can have a low need for fun and a high need for power. Many different combinations of need strengths can exist.
The needs want to be met. The stronger the need, the greater the urgency to fulfill it.
The need strengths do not change over time.

Glasser described the quality world as a special picture book in our head in which we collect pictures of the people, things, places, ideas, and activities that help us meet one or more of our basic needs. We begin to create this picture album from the moment we are born. We place people and things in our personal picture album; no one can force their way in uninvited. We can also take people and things out of our quality world, although that can be a very painful process. Our quality world represents the people, things, and ideas that are the most need-satisfying to us. As a result we put a lot of energy and effort into creating circumstances that match the pictures we have created. Problems can arise when we try to force others to match the pictures in our quality world. Choice theory reminds us, though, that the only person we can control is ourselves.

Screenshot 2014-11-05 21.11.15

The iceberg represents a helpful picture at this point. The part of the iceberg that is under the water, the huge 90% part of the iceberg, is similar to the basic needs. The basic needs are of huge importance in our lives. They exert an influence that is hard to overstate. Yet, like the invisible underwater portion of the iceberg, our basic needs are not easily seen or identified. There is no blood test, no x-ray, no brain scan that reveals what our need strengths are.


We get good clues about our basic needs, though, from the part of the iceberg we can see, that 10% above the water line that is comparable to our quality world picture books. How we behave in different life settings – with our families, at work, at play, when we have spare time, when things are going well, and when things are going not so well – provides us with good clues as to our basic need strengths. Understanding our personal basic needs and being aware of our own quality world pictures that help us meet those needs will go a long way toward us achieving happiness and mental health.


I mentioned Dr. Brene Brown, the author of Daring Greatly, in the last blog and I want to close with a couple of things she said that reminded me of the iceberg principle. She writes –

When we feel shame, we are most likely to protect ourselves by blaming something or someone, rationalizing our lapse, offering a disingenuous apology, or hiding out.

Shame seems to come from that invisible, immense underwater region of the iceberg that we can’t see and probably don’t want to see. She goes on to write –

When we apologize for something we’ve done, make amends, or change a behavior that doesn’t align with our values, guilt—not shame—is most often the driving force.

Guilt isn’t something that I want or feel comfortable with, but it is a part of the iceberg I can see, and therefore I can deal with it and make things right.


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Honey, this is getting out of control .  .  .

The second Soul Shapers workshop ended yesterday and already class members are sharing articles, stories, songs, and video clips that they are seeing in a new way — like this Verizon commercial. As you watch it think about the ways it taps into choice theory concepts.

How many choice theory ideas did you see or hear?

+ It really captured how the preferences of adults can shape a kid. And so much of it is about little stuff that adds up over time.

+ It captured the subtle ways that adults seek to control children.

+ It made a point about how little time adults spend listening to, and the supporting, what their children are really interested in.

What did I miss? What choice theory points did you see the clip bring out?


Ok, since we’re looking at clips, and since we are looking at creative commercial clips, here’s one that class members used to teach a piece of The Chart during Soul Shapers 1. A girl, feeling like she is being left behind by her friends, fakes her period and then is surprised by her mother’s response. Pretty hilarious. But also instructive when it comes to the “steering wheel-like” nature of our quality world.

It’s amazing what comes to the fore during choice theory trainings. Gotta love it.


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