How Can Reality Therapy Help You?

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HOW CAN REALITY THERAPY HELP YOU?
By Sarah Elliston

Reality Therapy is a system of being with people that creates freedom and connection at the same time.  This technique was created by Dr. William Glasser and is taught all over the world.  It allows us to allow the people in our lives to be responsible for their own behavior while helping us to strengthen our connections with them.  Sound impossible? Don’t we have to teach people to be responsible?  Tell them, over and over? 


I have a friend who gave his son the same little mini-lectures over and over.  After a while his son tuned him out.  Luckily, there were many positive aspects to their relationship so his son did not completely reject his father but he learned to say, “Hey, Dad.  I get it.  Enough,” and stopped listening.

If my friend practiced the Seven Caring Habits of Reality Therapy, he might have been heard the first time.  He might not have had to repeat his advice sessions. He might have been relieved of need to say things over and over.  He would have trusted his son to be responsible.

The Seven Caring Habits of Reality Therapy are:  accepting, listening, supporting, encouraging, trusting, respecting and negotiating differences. 

Accepting means we allow the other person to explore and choose who and what he wants to be.  It means not judging, criticizing, or nagging the other person. 

Listening is part of accepting.  It means actually listening to the other person without deciding what our opinion is.  Literally listening to his words, and his ideas. If he asks for our opinion, we can give it, but only if he asks.  We listen to hear what he has to say, not to figure out what we can say.  

Supporting another person means not criticizing the other person and allowing him to make his own decisions.  I can hear you saying, “Yeah, ok, sounds nice but what if the decision is the wrong one?  What if it means they will fail?” 

Supporting does not preclude sharing our opinion and pointing out the consequences of the decisions, especially they are severe.  However, it also means listening to all the factors in the making of the decision without making fun of him or telling him that the factors are silly. And supporting also means helping him if he does fail, without criticizing him. 

Actually, the more accepting and supportive we have been, the greater the chance of someone asking for our opinion. 

Encouraging strengthens the other by telling him we have faith in him.  We can invite him to make the decision with the better consequence.  We can point out his skills and possibly provide the resources for his success.  It can be helping with a project, studying for a test, maybe asking questions about friendship issues without giving advice – trusting his judgement. It can be helping develop a better plan, if necessary.  

Trusting is to have faith in another.  It is giving the other person the benefit of the doubt until he shows us that he can’t be trusted.  Then we identify and negotiate our differences, allowing the natural consequences to occur.  This is without bullying or blaming.  It is allowing the consequences, and supporting him through the experience.     

Respect underlies these habits.  It means that we believe that others can live their lives and solve their own problems if given the support, encouragement, trust, listening and acceptance that they need.  Sound impossible? 

With the people in your life try living with these habits for a week:

  • no criticism,
  • no complaining,
  • no blaming,
  • no bullying,
  • no advice unless requested,
  • listening to understand, not necessarily to respond, 
  • encouraging the people in your life,
  • allowing natural consequences.  

One of my favorite authors, Byron Katie says, “I know that everybody loves me; they just don’t know it yet.”  Wouldn’t that be an interesting approach to the week? I suggest you trust that the other people in your life have your best interests at heart.   You’ll find all your relationships improve, and you will be happier. 

 

Sarah H. Elliston is the author of “Lessons from a Difficult Person – How to Deal With People Like Us”. She is a faculty member of the William Glasser Institute and is a workshop leader and trainer who is certified in Values Realization, Parent Effectiveness Training and Reality Therapy. For more about Reality Therapy and to read Sarah’s blog, visit www.SarahElliston.com.

 

 


About the Author:

Sarah H. Elliston is the author of “Lessons from a Difficult Person – How to Deal With People Like Us”. She is a faculty member of the William Glasser Institute and is a workshop leader and trainer who is certified in Values Realization, Parent Effectiveness Training and Reality Therapy. For more about Reality Therapy.

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