As It Is or As I Am – the Art of Becoming

A journey … towards … being

Tag Archives: unconditional positive regard

The Art of Asking, Changing and Becoming Me

I love having a bath. At least, usually, once a week I take a bath. Generally I soak for at least an hour. During which I may read, meditate, ponder, dream, imagine, pray, visualise, compose poetry. Being secluded brings more ideas and feelings, than come at other times. Which is where a large part of this entry comes from.

I’ve not blogged very frequently the past year or so. A while ago I changed the blog title thinking it would prompt more entries. It has had the opposite result. There have been things to blog, yet as they didn’t seem directly related to counselling I’ve not made them. So today I’m changing the blog title again. Now it will simply be “The Art of Becoming Me – Neil”. Or perhaps, “The Art of Becoming Me”, or maybe “The Art of Becoming Neil”? Or even “The Art of Becoming… ”

The idea being the door is open to blog about anything, not feeling limited to purely counselling matters.

There is always though an overlap. Being a person-centred counsellor embraces all I am. Being more open about everything, is consistent with the concept of congruence, one of the three primary qualities of a person-centred counsellor – unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence – ideals I aspire to each day. Aspire to, yet no doubt never completely reach. A line from Amanda Palmer’s book “The Art of Asking”, my bath reading, fits here, about the purpose of life being for:


I didn’t take note, at the time of reading. Note taking not too easy in the bath 😇 If I later find it I’ll edit this post to add an exact quote here.

A lot of thoughts have risen from the book. Recommend it.


Can the essence of the book be summed up in a word? Perhaps, connection is one word I’d choose. Another, vulnerability. Trust and faith are others. And of course, asking:

Some days it’s your turn to ask
“Some days it’s your turn to be asked

     “Asking for help requires authenticity, and vulnerability.
     Those who ask without fear learn to say two things, with or without words, to those they are facing:
     I deserve to ask
     You are welcome to say no.
     Because the ask that is conditional cannot be a gift.”

Some other words or phrases that stand out for me:

“Conditional love is:
     I will only love you if you love me.
     Unconditional love is:
     I will love you even if you do not love me.
     It’s really easy to love passing strangers unconditionally.
     They demand nothing of you.
     It is really hard to love people unconditionally when they can hurt you.”

“You can never give people what they want, Anthony said.
     What do you mean?
     We were lying by the side of Walden Pond in Concord, two towns from Lexington, where we’d crested a ritual of ambling around the circumference of the water, then lazing under the trees with a picnic for a nice long grok.
     People always want something from you, he said. Your time. Your love. Your money. For you to agree with them and their politics, their point of view. And you can’t ever give them what they want. But you —–
     That’s a dreary worldview.
     Let me finish clown. You can’t ever give people what they want. But you can give them something else. You can give them empathy. You can give them understanding. And that’s a lot, and enough to give.

On their own the words quoted above may not mean much. Read the book and hopefully they will. You will no doubt take different things from it than I did. And that is okay. And perhaps that’s another principle, idea, concept, of the book – difference is okay.

Not everyone will like Amanda’s writing style. If you have read and valued Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly”, then the ideas in “The Art of Asking” should resonate with you.


Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

Last week I posted the video of Brené Brown: Listening to shame, saying I would post her other video, on vulnerability. As mentioned this video was recorded in 2010, whereas the “shame” one was recorded earlier this year. So here it is:

Interestingly it was also posted on the following person-centred forum:

However, I first came across it from a Linkedin group:

I find both videos enlightening, to the extent that last week I purchased Brené’s book: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You are. This can be a very scary thing to do. In a short summary, it is having empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence toward and for ourselves. In other words accepting and loving who we are. Not necessarily being content but acknowledging where we are and NOT destroying ourselves because we’re not perfect. For many, many people this can be very hard to do, particularly for members of the LDS Church, with an ideal of being perfect. This is not the place for a theological discussion on the subject, expect perhaps to say that while there may be a goal for perfection, it is often sought inappropriately, leaving people with immense guilt and stress which is avoidable. For me this comes back to Carl Rogers statement, shown on the right and side of this page: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

Brené’s book gives ideas on how to come to terms with where we are. An interesting part is her take on love:

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them—we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed, and rare.” (bold highlight added by myself).

The question, for me, that seems to flow through the book, so far, is: how can I love you, if I do not really love myself? Also, how I can really accept your love, if I do not love myself?

Post edited at 18:30 GMT.

Brené Brown: Listening to shame

Brené Brown gave  a TED talk, in December 2010 titled: The power of vulnerability.  In March 2012 she gave the talk embedded above: Listening to shame.  Both are great. for me the talk above is more powerful.  It is 20 minutes long, though very, very, very (enough very’s there :)) worth your time. Particularly to anyone having a struggle with any feelings of guilt and / or shame. I would attempt to outline the talk more but feel that would deter from her message.  Take the time!!  I’ll post her previous talk another day.

New blog title …

Felt to change the title of my blog today.  It now makes more obvious my membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Such membership was always available in the “About me” page, so whilst never hidden, it is now more open.  Why the change?  That I cannot really put an explanation, thought or feeling to at the moment.  Perhaps it will spark more interest?  Perhaps not.  Perhaps the opposite?

Time to state again that this blog is about me, not any clients I see, whoever they are or may be.  Part of me is being a member of the LDS Church, so is that where the title change comes from, a desire to show more openly to the counselling world and others who may read this blog that I am a member of said Church?  Should it matter to make such known?  From much of the Press recently about Mitt Romney it would seem some think it does matter.  Whilst the blog is about me, mainly in connection to person-centred counselling, other aspects of my life no doubt come through.  Now a main part openly does.

Of course this then raises the question of “parts”.  What is a part? Do all the parts add together to make a sum great than the individual parts?  Can we really have parts or roles?  As mentioned else where here, being a person-centred counsellor is not a role that can be put on and off as one enters or leaves the counselling room.  So being  a member of the LDS Church is not something that can be put on or off as one enters or leaves the chapel each Sunday.  Then comes the question of what does it mean to be LDS?  Perhaps another day with ample time to write, I’ll answer what it mean to me to be LDS.  A quick, very short answer is being congruent, having empathy, and unconditional positive regard for all (qualities vital for a person-centred counsellor) – being filled with love.

“Dependency and the Person-Centred Approach”

Months ago I said I’d answer this question – so answer it I will, though it will be from my own perspective as from my reading, browsing and searching have not yet discovered much that relates to the subject.  Apart from the quote to the right from Brian Thorne: “If therapy has been successful, clients will also have learned how to be their own therapist“.  The implication I take is that is you no longer need a therapist, there is no dependency.  That of course is the ultimate aim, hopefully the end result of any counselling that has taken place.  Before that is reached there will no doubt be some type of dependency.   Ideally there should be none, as any relationship between a person-centred counsellor and client should be as equal as possible.  There will no doubt be some inequality, but that should be very limited. Through the attributes of acceptance, empathy and congruence the client will hopefully see the counsellor not as an expert or the expert, in knowing what the client should do or be, but as someone who is there to assist the client in getting to know them self more, to discover things that had either been deliberately, or unconsciously hidden. The object being to come to terms with who they were, who they are now and who they wish to be, recognising that we are never static in our being, that “The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.”  This links for me with another statement from Carl Rogers: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”  As I come to understand where I have come from, where I am, then I can more powerfully change my future, if I wish to.

Reading this over, it probably doesn’t really answer the question asked.  Ah, well … maybe next time 🙂
As always, any thoughts or comments appreciated (or further questions 🙂 ).

Krista Tippett: Reconnecting with compassion

Not much to add to this TED talk.  Compassion is key. Compassion in our families, in counselling, in work, in play .. . is there anywhere we should not have compassion?

Well worth the 15 minutes 53 seconds of your time to listen and watch.

Marriage Gems … love everyday

Some ideas of keeping and increasing love each day for your spouse.  It came from

There maybe those who read this blog who think marriage is not for them.  Would suggest that if you want a relationship with someone marriage is the way to go.  Without the commitment there is a higher chance of a couples splitting up.  Marriage doesn’t guarantee a long-lasting relationship, but it does increase the chances, particularly if both partners are committed to each other and put effort in.

From a person-centred view this may seem a bit too directional.  It is offered for anyone who wishes to use the material.  No compulsion 🙂  Running through the article are the three core principles of person-centred counselling – congruence, unconditional positive regard and empathy.

If a couple can be and  live these qualities their relationship and marriage with be blessed.

Love is the key

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.  (Carl Rogers)

The curious paradox is that when you accept me just as I am, then I can change.  (Me – slightly paraphrasing Carl Rogers)

When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind. (Joseph Smith)

If our want is to help anyone, we must love them.  It is so simple, it’s scary.  The words are simple, yet the expression, the being of love, is perhaps not so.  If as a counsellor I do not love fully my client, my ability to help them on their journey is severely reduced.  No matter how good my “technique” is, love needs pre-eminence in the relationship.  That is the crux of unconditional positive regard, love as Carl Rogers also expressed it, combined with empathy and congruence. I’m writing nothing new.  Strong feelings came over me this lunch time that love is the key and felt to reiterate this to myself and anyone who may read this blog.

For me, judgement is crucial, or rather non-judgement.  If someone judges me, I feel unloved.  If they do feel love for me, that love gets diluted through their judgement. Same with clients, if I offer judgement it dilutes any other positive feelings they may have.  The relational depth is lost.

Class, stereotypes and counselling

The post title is that of a presentation I’m doing with another member of the counselling diploma course at the end of March.  Any feedback would be great to receive!

Anyone remember this “class” sketch from the Frost Report?  Stars John Cleese and the Two Ronnies:

An interesting depiction of the UK class system.  Upper, middle and lower.  There is now though what is called the “Under Class”.  Considering using this as an opener, to hopefully hook people into the topic.  Then get on to how class might affect us as counsellors today.

So how are we affected?  As in the sketch, if we are not aware of our selves we may indeed look up or down on particular clients.  In order to be as unconditional as possible in our acceptance of clients I need to be ware of any prejudices I may have, whether obvious or on the edge of my awareness.  It is probably those on the edge of awareness that I need to work on more.  If I am aware of things more work can be done to limit them.  If they are there at the edge of awareness they may affect my relationships with clients unknowingly.  It is one thing to be affected and then have the congruence to admit that, but if we are unaware, are we not then in-congruent?

3rd night at diploma

Began this post last Monday evening, only just completing it.  So it may seem a bit out of place after the post regarding my father-in-law.

Started with an hour and 15 mins of PD (Personal Development) which was great.  It has been moved from the end of the evening to the beginning.  Seemed a lot better as there was no quick cut off, as there had been the other two times, due to running out of time.  Shared my feeling of feeling very welcomed yet still felt outside of the group. Expressed feeling of wanting to share but not sure of the value having been through all that with the previous course.  Was asking myself why the desire to share?  Where did that come from? Was there a need to test the group, to see if they would have unconditional regard for me despite whatever I might share? Perhaps.

Then we split for triads for the first time this year.  It was great. I was observer and client.  Look forward to being counsellor, hopefully next week. Feedback will be great to get – as I long to develop further and without feedback that development I feel with be somewhat restricted.

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