Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Unconditional Positive Regard
Unconditional positive regard, a term coined by the humanist Carl Rogers, is blanket acceptance and support of a person regardless of what the person says or does. Rogers believes that unconditional positive regard is essential to healthy development. People who have not experienced it may come to see themselves in the negative ways that others have made them feel. By providing unconditional positive regard, humanist therapists seek to help their clients accept and take responsibility for themselves. Humanist psychologists believe that by showing the client unconditional positive regard and acceptance, the therapist is providing the best possible conditions for personal growth to the client.
David G. Myers says the following in his Psychology: Eight Edition in Modules:
"People also nurture our growth by being accepting—by offering us what Rogers called unconditional positive regard. This is an attitude of grace, an attitude that values us even knowing our failings. It is a profound relief to drop our pretenses, confess our worst feelings, and discover that we are still accepted. In a good marriage, a close family, or an intimate friendship, we are free to be spontaneous without fearing the loss of others' esteem."
Unconditional positive regard can be facilitated by keeping in mind Carl Rogers’ belief that all people have the internal resources required for personal growth. Rogers' theory encouraged other psychiatrists to suspend judgement, and to listen to a person with an attitude that the client has within himself the ability to change, without actually changing who he is.
The concept of unconditional positive regard also has a simpler meaning outside of the therapist's goal to elicit change. It is the simple act of one individual accepting all traits and behaviors in another individual, as long as is it does not entail causing significant harm to oneself. The key word here is "significant". If one states that "This person's behavior annoys me, and thus is causing me 'significant' harm", then unconditional positive regard is made subject to so many objections that it cannot exist. Thus, finding a person's behavior/beliefs reprehensible when they pose no threat of harm to oneself or others, is incompatible with unconditional positive regard. To treat a flawed individual's otherwise harmless behavior or beliefs as cause to reject the individual's worth, morality and right to merit interaction with oneself, is a violation of the unconditional precept.
Now, you may wonder why I have decided to write about this topic, considering the series of previous blog entries I have made over the past few weeks. All will be revealed in good time. Meanwhile, let me begin with my expectations of acceptance and understanding.
The winds of change has begun swirling around me again. Only this time, its just about me and my life. Nothing to do with anything or anyone else. But being a mortal that comes with relatives and relations, its only fair for me to expect some kind of understanding, acceptance or at the very least, a tad of empathy for what challenges me in my daily life. When I say I can't take it anymore, please believe me. After all, no one knew of my years of silent suffering and patience for I had not allowed a single squeal escape my lips. I also had not asked for assistance or support from any of the significant people in my life who are called my family. Until now.
When I called to open up to you, you promised that we will talk soon. But when the time arrived, I felt really let down. I did not receive the acceptance, understanding nor support that I need most at this present moment. Don't bother offering it to me now. I don't need it from you anymore. Once bitten, twice shy.
Stop and listen to what you are saying. Do you realize who it is you're preaching to? I am not ignorant nor deaf. I am not unlearned nor incapable of logical reasoning. Have you checked the facts that you've adopted as your pillar of truth? Funny how you can be so understanding, sympathetic and empathic to others but not to those of your own blood. Really weird.
Please believe me. Please let me do my own growing up and maturing. I am no longer 4 year old. Forty years has passed since. Please see me as an adult that you are as well. I will have your perspective on life when I reach your age. But meanwhile, what I have is all that I have to work with. When I know better, I will do better.
Now, after a long journey of self-acceptance and years of struggling self-doubt, I need to rely on myself. I realize now that I can't rely on anyone else. I don't need blessings or permission from anyone to fight for what I believe is crucial in ensuring my past mistakes and bad choices will not be a part of my future. Forgive me if you don't understand why I appear distant. Please do not take it personally if I stop asking for your opinion or thought on what I need to do. Excuse me if I cease to care anymore. I need to focus on my own recovery now. You've lived your life. This is mine. I need to do it my way. I know what is best for me. Only I know the ins and outs of my life. No one else does. This is why only I can do this. I need to do this.
You may deem my decision as a mistake in the making. But I am no longer afraid to make mistakes. I've learned a lot from all the mistakes I have made in my past. No regrets. No regrets. Only lessons and maturity, I have earned, through tears and heartache.
This is who I am. This is what I am. This is what I need to do. Accept it. Or else just shut up and walk away. I'll be ok. I'm a student of life, with God as my Teacher. I have lots to gain and nothing left to lose. So be it.