In the 1940’s the American psychologist Carl Rogers developed the idea of ‘unconditional positive regard’. He didn’t invent the action, or the feeling, of unconditional positive regard, but rather gave voice to something that he observed. Namely, that individuals flourished in the face of positive regard outside of certain conditions. We know this is crucial with children – that children thrive when we present them with a sense that they are loved whether or not they behave poorly, whether or not they excel in sports, whether or not they have different values from our own. If you’ve experienced it, you’ll know how powerful it is, how unshakeable. And if you’ve experienced its dark cousin, conditional positive regard, you’ll know how uncomfortable it is, to be always trying to measure up in order to receive love.
My godmother, Stephi, is the queen of unconditional positive regard. I was a young adult when I met her – and I was tricky. Spiky, confrontational, lacking in humility – I was, frankly, a bit of a pain in the bum.
But Stephi saw only the goodness in me. And in so doing, she consistently called me to be better than I thought I could be.
Your creative self, like that spiky young adult that I was, will flourish in the face of unconditional positive regard. It will unfurl and be its own best self in the warmth of loving expectation rather than judgement.
This doesn’t mean that you expect nothing of yourself creatively. Quite the opposite in fact: you expect the goodness that you know you are capable of. Because you are pretty great. You have a creative self. That self rocks.
Look, this isn’t a one-day affair. And I know that if you’ve had years of judging yourself harshly it’s a hard habit to break. But today, try. Today, try to simply observe yourself with gentle loving-kindness. Try to observe your creative self in an atmosphere of unconditional positive regard.
I can promise you this: that if you can foster that spirit in your own self, your creative life will flourish. I know this to be true.
Before you begin today’s writing, take a moment to remind yourself of your own creative power. And when you finish, take a moment to pause and thank yourself for showing up. Make that a daily practice.
You are inherently creative. And you are inherently admirable. And you are here, showing up, in the light.
Today’s daily prompt…
He was trying to flirt…