|The Ten Axioms of Choice Theory||Basic Needs|
1 The only person whose behavior we can
control is our own.
2 All we can give another person is information.
3 All long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems.
4 The problem relationship is always part of our present life.
5 What happened in the past has everything to do with what we are today, but we can only satisfy our basic needs right now and plan to continue satisfying them in the future.
6 We can only satisfy our needs by satisfying the pictures in our Quality World.
7 All we do is behave.
8 All behavior is Total Behavior and is made up of four components: acting, thinking, feeling and physiology.
9 All Total Behavior is chosen, but we only have direct control over the acting and thinking components. We can only control our feeling and physiology indirectly through how we choose to act and think.
10 All Total Behavior is designated by verbs and named by the part that is the most recognizable.
All individuals are driven by
genetically transmitted needs that serve as instructions for
attempting to live their lives. The needs are equally important, and
all must be reasonably satisfied if individuals are to fulfill their
These basic needs are:
(a) the need to survive,
(b) the need to belong,
(c) the need to gain power,
(d) the need to be free, and
(e) the need to have fun.
The individual has no choice but to feel pain when a need is frustrated and pleasure when it is satisfied. When any need goes unsatisfied, there is a continual urge to behave. This urge is as much a part of human genetic instructions as is eye color. Instructions related to survival - such as hunger, thirst, and sexual desire - are relatively distinct. Individuals quickly learn that the particular discomfort is attached to this need, and it is plain what they must do to satisfy the survival instructions. The nonsurvival, or psychological, needs are challenging because it is often less clear what an individual must do to satisfy them. Psychological needs, like biological needs, have their source in the genes, even though they are much less tangible and the behaviors that fulfill them are more complex than the physical behaviors used to fulfill the survival needs. Glasser (1984) holds that we are essentially biological beings, and the fact that we follow some of our genetic instructions psychologically rather than physically makes neither the instructions less urgent nor the source less biological.
The ways in which we fulfill psychological needs can be summarized as follows:
1. We fulfill the need to belong by loving, sharing, and cooperating with others.
2. We fulfill the need for power by achieving, accomplishing, and being recognized and respected.
3. We fulfill the need for freedom by making choices in our lives.
4. We fulfill the need for fun by laughing and playing.
Even though individuals may not be fully aware of their basic needs, they learn that there are some general circumstances that strongly relate to the way they feel. For example, people behave lovingly with their parents because it feels good; they realize that when people pay attention to their words or actions they feel powerful; by making choices they feel the importance of freedom; and through laughter they learn about fun.
Even though human needs are essentially the same for everyone, the behaviors through which individuals choose to satisfy those needs may be quite different. Beginning at birth, individuals have unique experiences that feel either pleasurable or painful. Through these experiences, individuals learn how to satisfy their needs. Because individuals have different experiences, the things they learn to do to satisfy their needs will be different as well. Each individual has memories of need-fulfilling behaviors specific to his or her unique life experiences. These pleasurable memories constitute the individual's quality world and become the most important part of the person's life. For most people, this quality world is composed of pictures (or, more accurately, perceptions) representing what they have most enjoyed in life. These perceptions become the standard for behavioral choices. Unlike the basic survival needs, which are the same for everyone, the perceptions in each person's quality world are very specific and completely individual. Individuals choose to behave in different ways to fulfill their needs because their quality worlds are different. To be in effective control of one's life means integrating this knowledge into the way one deals with others.
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