Unconditional Positive Regard…
It describes an attitude. An attitude of respect, acceptance and being non-judgemental.
Its easy to look at another person and see things you dont like about them, and its something that too many of us do too readily and often prematurely in my opinion. I say this because it has been my experience that there is a reason for everything. There is a reason that person is a drunk. There is a reason that girl is slutty. There is a reason this guy is a tramp living on the streets. There is a reason she finds it hard to be open. When we understand the deeper reasons behind peoples actions, we usually find that the initial negativity we felt towards them was ultimately misplaced. The tramp up the road, the one you crossed the street to ‘avoid’ due to his raggedy demeanor, that smelly guy you see all the time but ignore.. It turns out that he has been highly generous in the moments leading up to his current financial state. He lost all his money trying to fund the treatment for his only son who died of some rare disease… All of a sudden, hes not that smelly tramp anymore, he is that noble guy who could probably do with a hug.
“We should not pretend to understand the world only by the intellect. The judgement of the intellect is only part of the truth.” – Carl Gustav JUNG.
So, im waiting for the bus after another monotonous day at the office. Its dreary, raining and windy and the day dragged liked never before. The bus arrives and its nearly fully packed. Still, he opens his doors and we squeeze on. Due to a succession of reasons, the driver is now behind on his schedule. Because of this, he has to change the destination of the bus and does this by changing the information on the front of the bus and by letting out a disgruntled, abrupt announcement which could barely be understood..? Knowing that this move probably effected my route home, i went to the driver and asked if he could confirm what i thought (that the destination had been changed)…
The first answer i got was “NO TALKING TO THE BUS DRIVER WHILST THE BUS IS MOVING!!”. No problem.. It made sense. I didnt want to be the disraction that led to a crash. In this moment i also recognised the tension in his response.
Once the bus had come to a stop, i repeated my question and i got this: “UGGH… YES, THE DESTINATION HAS CHANGED! I BEEN TRYING TO GET TO MY STOPS ON TIME BUT YOU PEOPLE ARE LIKE A HERD OF CATTLE, ON AND OFF, ON AND OFF AND THOSE MOUTHY KIDS NEEDS SORTING OUT AS WELL! I AINT PAID TO PUT UP WITH THIS SH!T SO JUST GO AND SIT DOWN!!” The conversation actually contained a few more swear words, but im trying to keep it clean..lol
My response..? “Hmmm… so your having a bad day huh..? :)” (Non-Judgement) Immediately the tension dropped… i continued “Its fine to have bad days… damn, considering the stress you encounter on a day to day basis, im surprised you lasted this long..!” (Acceptance) he smiled “SORRY TO UNLOAD ON YOU KID…” “No worries..! Where did you say the bus was terminating again?” “The bus terminates in Camberwell…” No worries. Take it easy..!” (Respect).
It would have been easy to raise my right eye brow, frown a little and follow up with a “who the hell do you think your talking to?!” It would have been easy to react to this situation but realisticly, this situation didnt require a mere reaction… it required a response.
“I have thought, said and done ‘bad things’, but i do not thing that i am a bad person. I want to be seen as the whole person I am, struggling, often in pain and confusion, with the consequences of actions i now regret..”
Unconditional positive regard is a term used to describe a technique usually used in a non-directive, client-centered therapy. Unconditional positive regard involves showing complete support and acceptance of a person no matter what that person says or does, but i think this should spread far beyond the client therapy arena.
I believe that it is essential for people, all of us, to show unconditional positive regard firstly to their family and peers. Individuals who don’t have this type of acceptance from people in their life can eventually come to hold negative beliefs about themselves and this is something i think we would all do well to avoid. People also nurture our growth by being accepting—by offering us unconditional positive regard. This is an attitude of grace, an attitude that values us even knowing our ailings. 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!
If we can all couple this approach to others whilst maintaining a sound moral code with a desire for positive change, then i think we officially begin building the foundations of brighter future.