Friday, September 18 2009
When I counsel I find two simple formulas especially helpful. The first one is satisfaction = to reality/expectations, which can be changed to feelings = behavior/beliefs. In this formula the individual's feelings or level of satisfaction is determined by how their reality meets with their expectations. If I expect something to happen, expect someone to behave or act a certain way, or expect a particular outcome in my life and that is what is happening I feel good or satisfied. If my reality doesn't meet my expectations I feel bad or sad or disappointed or dissatisfied. When my spouse does what I want her to do or acts or behaves in the particular manner I expect her to do I am happy or satisfied. When she doesn't I'm disappointed or dissatisfied.
The other formula is a component of the first. It is behavior or performance = ability x motivation. My behavior or my performance is a function of my ability to do something multiplied by my motivation to do something. Sometimes I have the ability but I'm not motivated. Sometimes I may be motivated but not have the ability.
When we put these two formulas together we get some very interesting results. First, if I examine my feelings and why I'm satisfied or dissatisfied I find areas in my life where I feel happy and areas where I'm not so happy. When I examine my relationships with others, for example, I find places where I'm satisfied and where I'm not satisfied. If I examine a particularly key or significant relationship I may find some areas where I am not satisfied with how the other person is acting or behaving. Therefore, my satisfaction = their behavior/my expectations. When they don't meet my expectations of them I'm unhappy, disappointed, or dissatisfied with them or more specifically with their behavior. When I examine their behavior I need to ask if they are not meeting my expectations because they cannot or will not. Are they unable to perform the behavior I desire or unwilling to do so? Human nature being what it is I usually vent my frustration with the belief that they are unwilling when in fact that may not be the case at all.
What if they are unable? Do they know what I desire? Do they know that I'm dissatisfied? Have I clearly communicated my dissatisfaction in a clear way that describes what I desire in their behavior or am I just angry and upset? What if I could step back and taking time to think examine their behavior, my beliefs or expectations and determine first what am I upset about? Is my expectation realistic? Could they do it if they had to and do they truly know what I desire? If they could and they are not is there some other logically reason they are not motivated to do what I want? Does it perhaps require more time, money, or energy then they have to give right now or some other change in their behavior that they are unwilling to change or not in agreement with me that the change is necessary and therefore we may need to spend some time communicating, which will involve listening, understanding, accepting and coming to some type of agreement.
If I take the time to work through the formulas myself or with my folks in counseling all sorts of good things happen including increasing understanding and awareness of my expectations, my behavior, and my beliefs, which are the only things in my control. Therefore, if I change my behavior, my beliefs, or my expectations, I can influence and increase my level of satisfaction or happiness by changing my feelings. Interesting.
Helping Hearts Heal,
Dr. Dan L. Boen