Rogers, the great humanistic psychologist, pioneered the concept of unconditional positive regard.
It’s the basic acceptance and support of a person regardless of what they say or do.
Although this theory originally developed within the context of client centered therapy, the intrapersonal applications are just as important.
Because in the deeply complicated relationship with ourselves, we can achieve unconditional positive regard as well. We can love ourselves anyway.
Ellis, the peer and worthy successor of the aforementioned psychologist, summarized it beautifully in his book about rational emotive behavioral therapy:
The need to impress others and to win their approval, and thereby view yourself as a good person, leads to an obsession that tends to preempt a large part of your life. You’re seeking status instead of seeking joy. Instead, rate yourself as good merely because you are alive. That kind of egoism will get you into very little trouble.
The question, then, is how much do you trust yourself? How much belief in your own efficacy do you really have? Especially when things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped?
See if any of the following examples apply to your life.
You trust that you are valuable even when you aren’t valued.
You trust that you are a good person who is worthy of joy.
You trust that your own best is enough for you, even if it’s not enough for others.
You trust that you are loved and respected in spite of your lack of achievement.
You trust that you are a worthwhile person even when behaving incompetently.
You trust that you tried your best in the moment even if the amount of effort you offered didn’t produce the outcome you had in mind.
That’s a complete picture of true unconditional positive regard for ourselves, and it’s difficult to paint. Because most of us use such situations to make global ratings of ourselves as individuals.
We based this score solely on our approval and performance, rather than joy and aliveness.
The good news is, trust is a muscle we can train. We can learn to talk to ourselves in a way that a therapist would talk to their patients.
With love towards, forgiveness for, and acceptance of our humanity.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What if you equate your sense of worth not with the outcome, but with your effort?