“There is no guarantee that life is fair. The only guarantee is that you are the only person whom you know you can change. Complaining may feel good for a short time but it is a completely ineffective behavior. If complaining were effective, there would be a lot more happy people in the world.” – William Glasser, Reality Theorist
There’s a theory of counseling called Reality Therapy.
I’m not a fan.
One of the core premises of Reality Therapy rests on the idea that we completely choose our own behavior and emotions. There is no mental illness; there is no psychopathology. If you are depressed, you’re actually “depressing” yourself. If you’re anxious, you’re actually “anxietizing” yourself. Thanks, Will. You just made me feel like a big, fat failure. I’m going to go “comfortize” myself with chocolate now.
Fundamentally, I disagree with Mr. Glasser. I believe there are certain mental illnesses and psychopathologies one cannot control. It’s biological, hereditary, or we are so susceptible to it that we can not help but fall prey to its power when triggered by an emotional disturbance. Give us a break, Will. My conclusion on Reality Therapy: I’ll only use it on clients I don’t like.
The only redeeming quality of Reality Therapy is its focus on choice, personal responsibility, and freedom. The reality is that, in most cases, we can choose how we respond to situations.
I’m challenged by this notion. I like to blame my emotional reactions on external forces. I’m all like, “Gosh, if this person would just do what I want them to, I’d be so much HAPPIER” or, “This situation sucks. I just want life to be EASIER.” Ok, 12-year-old. Chill out and eat a bon-bon.
Selfishness is innate, is it not? Gracious, am I ever quick to think of myself before others. Before señor, before my family, before the Lord, before the homeless man in the coffee shop, before the hurting friend. Everyone is in second place. Did you not get the memo?
SNAP BACK TO REALITY (oh, there goes gravity…sing with me…)
“The only guarantee is that you are the only person whom you know you can change.” Ok, Will. I get it. You’re right. Life is about more than me. Complaining won’t help anything. Expecting others to change is generally an indication that I’m unwilling to change something in myself.
Like, oh, I don’t know…my attitude?
I’m ready for a change, friends. I’m ready to stop living with the expectation that others determine my attitude, emotions, and behavior. I am responsible for me. I am called to live accountable to my actions in accordance with God’s commands. I expect this process to be slow, like most long-lasting change does. I expect it will wreck me for awhile, humble me, and silence my complaining.
I am only capable of changing myself. And oh, how irrefutably God is reminding me of that today.