May You Choose Love and Light in 2018!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Who Has The Power?

By Judith Ashley

During February I’m blogging every Monday on one of Dr. William Glasser’s Four Psychological Basic Needs. Today I’m talking about Power. Dr. Glasser said this Basic Need is the most difficult to understand because we live in an “external control” society and we teach and support the myth that other people can control us.

There’s a commercial airing on television these days where the actor is striding through the airport, grabbing someone else’s coffee, etc. He is on his way to get his rental car. Why do I mention this commercial?

The actor’s lines go something like this “some people think I’m a control freak, I think of myself as a control enthusiast”. When I first saw this commercial I laughed. As I've seen it again and again and think of it through the “Power” lens of the psychological needs, I no longer laugh. The actor bypasses people because he doesn't want to engage with them and at the end, posed beside a car, he contemplates what being a ‘control enthusiast’ is and comes up with “sexy”.

If you've ever been at the mercy of someone who will do just about (or maybe anything) to gain the upper hand, to win, to be first, to “make you” bend to them, I doubt you see being a control enthusiast as ‘sexy’.


Unless you are exerting internal control, using your personal power to enhance your life, making yourself into the person you want to be.

In my short story “Is He The One?” included in "Gifts of the Heart through Windtree Press, my website and major e-retailers, my heroine, Sophia Denton uses Dr. William Glasser’s Psychological Basic Needs to sort through her feelings and find the answer to Jonathan’s proposal. She readily acknowledges they love each other and they both want to do their best as high school teachers. Will Jonathan want to control her? Will he disregard her opinions? Since they both have their own apartments, how will they sort things out when living together and seeing the other person do something at best ‘differently’ and at worse ‘wrong’?

Bill said more than once that all the problems we have in the world are because of people working to

gain control over others. In my personal and professional life, I see almost all, if not all misery stemming from other people exerting control/punishment/coercion over others. Early in my child welfare career, I had a supervisor who planted tape recorders in the area where our desks were to try and catch us doing something wrong. Fortunately, he wasn't my supervisor for long! The person who replaced him would come and sit with us and ask us what we needed from her to be able to do our work, to be the best child welfare worker we could be.

One could say both were control enthusiast. I know which one I wanted to work for!

Of course the world would be a better place if everyone believed, thought and acted as I do! That is a core understanding those of us who've studied and worked with Glasser have. I can assure you that isn't going to happen.

So, how can you move forward and shift from external control/power to incorporate the concept of internal or personal power?

It’s question time!

1. What is happening when you try to “make” someone do what you want or how you want a task to be done?

2. What would need to be different for you to engage the other person/people in a cooperative effort to complete the task?

3. Can young children understand these concepts? Spoiler alert: Yes! My youngest granddaughter could explain pointing to a graphic Dr. Glasser developed to show his concepts, what was going on when she was upset. I will add that understanding is not accepting!

4. What would be different if you eliminated all punishment, coercion, criticizing, blaming, complaining, threatening or rewarding for control (bribing) from your relationships at work and at home?

Next week I’ll explore the Psychological Basic Need of “Freedom”. I hope you’ll join me. And, please ask questions! I’ll do my best to expand on Dr. Glasser’s concepts in my answers.

Judith is the author of The Sacred Women’s Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual practices that nourish the soul and celebrates the journey from relationship to romance. She is also on the Senior Teaching Faculty of The William Glasser Institute and schedules training leading to Certification in Dr. Glasser’s Choice Theory and Reality Therapy.

Learn more about her work with Dr. Glasser’s concepts here or check out The William Glasser Institute to learn about more educational and training opportunities.

Learn more about her writing and The Sacred Women’s Circle series at

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