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I was writing a paper on Carl Rogers and I started wondering about this topic. To those who don't know, Rogers is a humanistic psychologist, who came up with client-centered therapy, among other concepts. At the core of this therapy, is the concept of unconditional positive regard. Basically, it's the notion of being completely and totally accepted, no matter what you say or do. According to Rogers, ideally, we're supposed to receive unconditional positive regard while growing up, in order to be able to completely embrace and accept ourselves.

(For more information: Unconditional positive regard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

My paper was about Rogers' life, and I was surprised to find out that he received absolutely no unconditional positive regard when he was little. In fact, it was quite conditional. When he wanted to step away from the religious family atmosphere, he almost got disowned. Perhaps he felt this lack, and later decided to incorporate it in therapy when he realized how much happier and in touch with myself he would be if he were to receive complete acceptance himself.

Quote by Rogers: "I feel warmed and fulfilled when I can let in the fact that, or permit myself to feel, that someone cares for, accepts, admires, or prizes me. Because of elements in my past history, I suppose, it has been very difficult for me to do this... For a long time, my reaction was: Who, me? You couldn't possibly care for me. You might like what I have done or my accomplishments, but not me."

My question to you lovely INFP's is: What about you? Was the positive regard conditional, or unconditional? Did your parents show you they loved you no matter what mistake you did, or what decisions you made? Or on the contrary, did you feel they only loved you when you acted the way they wanted you to?

Personally, I fall into the latter category. Reading Rogers' quote made me tear up a little because of how much I could relate to it.

(By the way, Rogers was an INFP! :kitteh:)
 

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My parents have done a great job in showing me unconditional love. This became even more apparent not to long ago with some tlof the so called failures I had made here in my late adolecense a young adulthood. I am greatful that I have parents that are like this, even with all of my testing.
 

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To me, this is a VERY VERY subjective concept, and really can't be quantified in any way.

What do we mean by "positive regard" and what do we mean by "unconditional?"

Of course, being an INFP, I can tell you the times when I FEEL what I could describe as "unconditional positive regard," but what I perceive as that is not going to be the same thing as what another feels.

Firstly, what does "positive regard" mean? Does it mean acceptance of all actions as natural or even good, where there exists no such thing as criticism? Does it mean a general "I love you anyway, even when you do things that disappoint me or are a flat-out crime against humanity?" And if we say that, then how do we define "love?"

Is "love" a general feeling of "well there's still something in me that likes you even when you screw up" or is love a decision and an action based on that decision (ie., "I'm not disowning you or divorcing you because I am committed to you")?

I know some people would simply define "unconditional positive regard" as the type of "love" known as "agape."

But to every human being, the phrase "I love you anyway" has a different meaning.

If the idea of

According to Rogers, ideally, we're supposed to receive unconditional positive regard while growing up, in order to be able to completely embrace and accept ourselves.
So in that case, is the "unconditional positive regard" along the lines of "You split an infinitive in that sentence, but it's okay, because you're awesome," or "Hey, you just killed the family dog, but it's all good, because you're a wonderful kid!"

I think we all want to know that we're regarded positively even in the times when we mess up and hurt ourselves or others.

But the phrase "unconditional positive regard" leaves no room whatsoever for negative regard ... and I think we can all agree there are times, especially during the developmental childhood years, when negative reinforcement is absolutely critical.

The problem with defining this term, is that it's not hard for a child (especially an NF child) to see negative reinforcement or "punishment" as "you hate me," in which case, even though the parent may "love" their child unconditionally apart from the child's actions, feeling children or those whose parents express themselves through "tough love" may say they never felt "unconditional positive regard" even though by other definitions "unconditional love" was certainly present.

I will tell ya, I never felt "unconditional positive regard" growing up, but I knew my parents "loved" me the entire time, and I believe I came out better for it.

There were times I felt alienation, but I believe sometimes that was more an issue inherent to my personality than it was due to the "positive regard" I felt from those around me.

There's no way to raise a child well without negative reinforcement in some cases, but like I said earlier, a child is likely to confuse "negative reinforcement" with "negative regard."

I don't know of any cases in which a child would or could say that "unconditional positive regard" existed all through their childhood - and if they could, then I would say that parents who came off that way didn't care enough about their child's wellbeing to impress upon them the importance of good behavior (including enforcing negative consequences for bad behavior).

Does this make sense at all? Am I using too literal a definition of "unconditional positive regard?"
 

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@icicle84

Yes, I think you read way too much into it. Of course, I'm not talking about extreme cases. I do realize that COMPLETELY unconditional acceptance would be realistically impossible, and that if you were to commit a certain crime, or were to hurt your loved ones in one way or another, this wouldn't apply. I'm only talking about regular mistakes, ones we all make while growing up. Failing a class, getting kicked out of school, lying, sneaking out, the kinds of things teenagers do. In more "delicate" cases, I'd say being attracted to the opposite sex, questioning your religion, having premarital sex in a conservative country, going for a major that parents wouldn't approve, dating someone from the opposite religion, etc.

All of those things, most parents go through with their children, in one form or another. The delicate cases might be a more rare occurrence, but I'd say those are more or less regular problems. How parents react would deeply affect the child's perception of themselves and to what extent their parents REALLY love them.

Again, please keep the extreme scenarios out. It's a whole other discussion if we were to include them.
 

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I kind of thought about this but not with those terms. I thought that the in general without being too specific that the two things parents should be do to be good parents is to show love/affection to their child unconditionally but not being too care bear with them while they grow up but rather supportive and there whitest helping them grow into healthy individuals, the other being providing like food and home to live in, the physical world stuff that people need to live.


Now as for my parents I know they love me a bloody lot, they show their love and sometimes say it on an odd occasion. I can be a bit sensitive to them at times when their criticism of things is more insulting than constructive because they're venting their own frustrations about the matter. Of course I was punished for things growing up.
Only a parent can smack you for being naughty and then when you're all angry and in tears comfort you with a hug hahaha

I think the concept is more about not denying children to be themselves more than not punishing them for bad behaviour. If you child is being rude or done something wrong of course they need to be pulled back into line and you make them think about why its wrong and have them associate what they've done with a bad feeling. I think if you love your parents you don't want to disrespect them or disappoint them.
What this seems to be to me is for situations where there is bias for things that isn't actually negative behaviour. Like a parent disowning their child because they're gay or dating a person of another race or religion. That they don't like sports and cars, that they don't like barbies and dresses. That they do or don't like reading books.
I think parents try and create a clone of themselves in some ways but a better version if they recognise their own faults, they want someone who likes the things they do. But you don't get to choose what your kid likes, you may not like what they do at all.
My parents certainly dislike my introverted behaviour and my lack of willingness to go outside but they don't really insult me about it. They prompt me to go out and do things but they understand this is how I behave, i'm not doing anything bad.

Growing up they were fine with me just coming home from school and playing videos games, but they would force me to visit my relatives against my will because of course as a young boy I had not interest in them and I love my games :)
I often wonder how many parents would be able to still show love to their son or daughter who becomes a pornstar or some other low respected job?
I like to think if I had children I would hope they make reasonable decisions in life, I'm not about to scold them because they got high or drunk underage. I want to talk to my kids with respect and be honest with them about what I think about things and if I dont feel they're ready to hear i'll tell them just that. I'm not sure how far it would go till I didn't love my own kids. I might be disappointed in how they turn out if they did bad things but they'd be my kids and there'd be wonderful memories with them, how could I hate them.
 

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Mhm. Can I say I think my parents love me unconditionally, but express it conditionally? >_>; Thus, conditional in the end, I suppose?
 
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@icicle84

Yes, I think you read way too much into it. Of course, I'm not talking about extreme cases. I do realize that COMPLETELY unconditional acceptance would be realistically impossible, and that if you were to commit a certain crime, or were to hurt your loved ones in one way or another, this wouldn't apply. I'm only talking about regular mistakes, ones we all make while growing up. Failing a class, getting kicked out of school, lying, sneaking out, the kinds of things teenagers do. In more "delicate" cases, I'd say being attracted to the opposite sex, questioning your religion, having premarital sex in a conservative country, going for a major that parents wouldn't approve, dating someone from the opposite religion, etc.

All of those things, most parents go through with their children, in one form or another. The delicate cases might be a more rare occurrence, but I'd say those are more or less regular problems. How parents react would deeply affect the child's perception of themselves and to what extent their parents REALLY love them.

Again, please keep the extreme scenarios out. It's a whole other discussion if we were to include them.
Okay, I understand, but again I think it's way too subjective of a concept, even in the less-delicate scenarios that you mentioned.

If I had a kid who were to sneak out or expressly go against the way I'm trying to best raise my family, you can bet they'd be grounded or otherwise disciplined.

I guess my main question is, does "discipline" even in the "regular mistakes" fall outside of the "unconditional positive regard" concept?

My point is that, in any circumstance, a child is likely to take "discipline" as "dislike," when that's not the case.

Hence, my belief that it's too subjective of a concept really to define in any kind of consistent manner.

If I lied to my parents about something, I'd get a tablespoon of baking cocoa in my mouth (try swallowing that!). Effective discipline, yes. But also a very distasteful experience, and easy to say "wow, my parents hate me when I lie. Why would you subject someone to that punishment??"

I don't interpret that as "negative regard" though I probably did as a kid. Neither do I interpret other punishments - grounding a kid who sneaks out or fails a class due to slacking off (if you just can't cut it, that's one thing - but if you're being a class clown, blowing off your studies and being ridiculously irresponsible, then I believe parents are there to bring you back in line).

Levels of "punishment" differ from home to home, but see I don't know how you define this. Does "punishment" or "discipline" equal the absence of "unconditional positive regard?"

I'm not familiar with the source material - I'm just going on the basis of what I think the majority of people would accept as the definition. And that definition is just too subjective and too dependent on "feeling" in my opinion.

Don't get me wrong, feelings are GREAT for personal life and interaction and everything - just not very good when you're trying to quantify them or define a term that everyone's going to "feel" different about.

I may just bow out of this one because I'm obviously not giving the answers you were looking for. I just thought it was an interesting topic. :p
 
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@icicle84

Ah, I understand what you mean. Your perspective is very interesting, and I do agree that it is quite subjective. However, that's how all of our experiences are. You can't ask someone to be objective about the way they perceive such things. I do realize that punishment is sometimes necessary when someone misbehaves, but at the same time, there's a certain way in which it is carried out. We studied this in psychology, that it doesn't really matter what the parents do compared to how it makes the child feel.

Classic example : favoritism. Most parents try hard to treat each sibling like the other. They will insist that they made it a point not to prefer one child to the other. But the bottom line is, whether they did or they didn't, it doesn't matter compared to how the child perceives it. Do you get what I mean?

I guess what I'm saying is, punishment can be effective and should be carried out when a child disobeys or messes up, but there's a certain manner in which it is carried out that is essential. I can prevent my child from watching TV for two weeks, and yet still treat him/her as my child, and not make them feel like the most horrible person in the world. Same applies for my more delicate scenarios : when a child is searching for his/her own identity, and finds it to be different from the one expected, be it in sexual orientation, religion, career, etc, shouldn't their parents support them to the end?

I once asked my mother what she would do if I was a lesbian, and she replied without hesitation that she would throw me out of the house. I don't doubt her words. In my eyes, I don't believe she would accept me no matter how I was.
 

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Wellsy said:
What this seems to be to me is for situations where there is bias for things that isn't actually negative behaviour. Like a parent disowning their child because they're gay or dating a person of another race or religion. That they don't like sports and cars, that they don't like barbies and dresses. That they do or don't like reading books.
I think parents try and create a clone of themselves in some ways but a better version if they recognise their own faults, they want someone who likes the things they do. But you don't get to choose what your kid likes, you may not like what they do at all.
I agree completely with this. I guess I should've made it clearer: Do you think if you deviated from what your parents thought was "normal" (to them), they'd still accept you? Did your parents make you feel like they would accept you no matter who you were?

I'm not really targeting the punishment of normal behaviors as much as I'm talking about these situations where there's no right or wrong, these subjective circumstances that differ from family to family.

Oh, and Wellsy, I think you'd make a wonderful dad :)
 

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I feel like they would, they might show some discontent with somethings im sure. I dont think my dad would like to hear if I came out as a gay, lucky I'm not hahaha That'd be tough.
I'm not sure what they had intended for me other than they want me to be a capable young man who is with a good moral standing. At the moments they just want their son to get a license and a job which makes sense and is a reasonable want in their desire for a well adjusted human being for a son.
They do worry a lot though, Mum tells me so. Because they recognise i'm bit out of the ordinary and sometimes made jokes that some of my mannerisms seem slightly autistic of course they know im not but I do sometimes walk on my toes when im home with no socks on.

So basically yes I think my parents would be fine with me being how ever I wanted to be within a reasonable confine I guess. Like they wouldn't be happy with me being without a strong work ethic or driving force in my life.
 

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@kaleidoscope

Now I get your perspective on it, and that makes more sense as to what you were asking.

Accepting a child as still your child - so we're more talking about the idea of unconditional love, even when that love is carried out in "I know this hurts but it's necessary" type of discipline.

In that case, I'm in 100 % complete agreement that it's critical for parents to let kids know that they're loved even when they mess up (even when that means punishment). That's what my parents ALWAYS did.

I never ever felt unloved, even in the times I may have felt misunderstood or mischaracterized or misinterpreted.

I guess like you said, a kid can interpret something however they want to, and it's up to the parents to do their best to let the kid know the kid always loved as their child, even when those mistakes or rebellions or whatever happen.
 
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As a child, I received that from my mom, and I think I even received it from my dad until my mom died and my dad re-married. I was a really "good" child, so I don't think it was at all challenging to regard me positively. Then, as a teenager, I went through some issues surrounding my mom's death and I was told that if I didn't straighten up and become easier to deal with, I would be sent to live with my grandparents. Thus, the definite end of the positive regard. I think once I hit puberty my dad didn't feel comfortable being at all expressive toward me. My step mom is only ten years older than I am and had no idea how to deal with me or even how to be genuinely kind to me. In any case, I'm more screwed up because of thi gs that happened as a teenager than thi gs that happened in childhood, I think. And as I said, I was definitely held in positive regard as a little child.
 

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I imagine that my parents do love me no matter what, but they simply can't show it. They have a habit of considering their views the 'right' ones (even when they have opposing views) and trying to impose them on me. I remember when I was so dedicated to drawing fantasy when I was younger, and my Mom would always tell me to draw more 'real' things. They don't have a regard to the things I'm most interested in; my introspection, imagination, writing, reading, are considered frivolous and not as important as daily tasks or making money. And I can't ever disagree with them or show my opposing opinions, because they're older and 'know what's best for me.'

What's particularly aggravating is when my grandmother lived with us for a year. She's a devoted Catholic, and is always trying to practice the philosophy of loving your neighbor as yourself. But she would only criticize me for not blindly accepting everything they said and not showing enough appreciation for what they did, and never cared for my emotional invalidation. She said it wasn't their job to understand my feelings, but my job to understand theirs.

Apperently, Mom and Dad just want me to be able to sustain myself in the future, to have a good job and to survive in the world. I can understand that, but I just wish they would understand my differences and personality and help me capitalize on them. Like teaching me to use Te to support Fi and Ne instead of trying to make it my dominant function.

I think I might be like Carl Rogers in that, while I have trouble receiving unconditional positive regard, I'm much more ready to give it to others. As long as they're not harming me or anyone else, I can be okay with them and with anything out of the ordinary that they might possess. If I do have any disagreements or advise them to change something, I try to do it in the kindest way possible, without 'wronging' them.

(Sorry for the slight venting there...)

Edit: I might as well leave this here for whoever finds it useful. I know I did. :)
 

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@Vin The Dreamer

That link is now bookmarked. Thank you so much for that, it brought tears to my eyes :happy: Very insightful and touching.

What you went through with your parents is something I can very much relate to.
 

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I had to put up with a lot of shit when I was young, but one thing was sure: I didn't have to take any shit at home. Sure if I did something stupid, I'd get the beating, but it was always for something, never just because.


I'm very glad that I did receive the unconditional positive regard when I was growing up; without it I am sure that the other shit would have driven me into unrepairable damage - that being most likely suicide.


Despite getting the beating for the stupid stuff, I never had the feeling that I was not accepted who or what I was. It was always unconditional. I believe that the unconditionality would have stood even in the harshest of tests. Where I am, of course are no sharp differences in people and things are liberal, so being with someone from a different ethnic, social or religious group would have made no difference. But I don't think it would have made any difference even in the case that things would be very conservative here.


The unconditional positive regard presented itself as acceptance and tolerance. Even if I was tiring sometimes, I'd still get the untired love. If I chose some path against my parent ideals, I wouldn't be punished for that. So I guess, I always had freedom when growing up. Somehow I could imagine to receive that unconditional acceptance even in extreme cases, but I always treated this unconditional love responsibly and didn't get into trouble.


I'm really thankful for my parents. I hope that I'm able to give this kind of unconditional love for my children when I have those (hopefully).
 

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Hmmmm
I think my parents would still love me but I know they would be uncomfortable. For example, my dad would never be comfortable with the fact I consider myself Bi and when I asked him if I were to marry a woman how would he react, he told me never to speak of things like that again. But to be fair, I think he thought I was saying that merely to provoke him, because at any hint at prejudice I tended, especially in earlier adolesence, to "confront the issue". If I really were to get with a girl... well... I am not sure. Maybe I wouldn't go over for holidays.
In lots of small ways I feel unnaccepted, but I think this is me being sensitive, because I recieve love through quality time, physical touch, and words of affirmation, and my parents are both acts of service and gift giving. So they want to do things for me. Part of doing things for me is "providing me with certain paths in life"- helping me with high school, paying for college. These things have an element of pressure to them, and for a long time I felt vaguely my parent's love was contingent on me "following through on their plan for me", and when I deviated or made normal mistakes it was a very big deal, like skipping class or getting lost while driving, and I have been told "I hate you". I try not to think of these things and it isn't that hard. An emotional wall is slightly built up but also a lot of forgiveness; I too have said things in the heat of anger, and my family says I love you more than they say I hate you (though I wish it was never said to me at all). I think these wounds do last, especially since it started when I was younger without much provocation, spilling coffee, embarraassing them in public unknowingly, and this has impacted how I relate to them.
I also love my parents very much, and they love me. The more I fought with my dad, the more I saw what was going on beneath him, and most of it is fear. Fear of losing me, fear of me being unhappy, of not having choices or options, and also resentment, because he works so hard to provide opprotunities for me, and as it goes, the chldren do not always appreciate the clearing away of a path despite the years it took your parents to clear it because you resent being forced to pick THAT path as opposed to your own...

I objectively know my parents love me and if I were to really fuck up they would be very mad at me and we'd have a big fight but we'd always come back together and everyone would always be forgiven. That is unconditional love, isn't it? But that doesn't change certain fears and feelings it has given me that I may never get rid of, a guard that is up, a fear of being rejected and not knowing why, of being bad in some way I can't explain. My parents don't really take responsibility for this but I guess I don't know how they would.

Unconditional love-- I guess since my bank is closer to "I resent you" than "I am loving towards you", I do not always act in a way that instigates loving behavior, so often me and my parents are in a negative cycle. I often do not feel loved unconditionally. Sometimes it feels very conditional. I hide a lot of things from my parents and distance myself from them in many ways, and I am also struck by the awareness I can never truly be myself with my father, but must constantly edit my speech and thoughts because for some reason everything I think offends him. So in that way, I feel rejected at my essence. I think no matter what happens he will forgive me and continue to try to support me in ways he can, but whenever we are in a good patch all it takes is for me to open my mouth or make a mundance comment and I have done something bad again. I am not allowed to relax. So doing things for me doesn't mean much to me, as he might as well be doing them for anyone, any other "daughter" who was born in this time slot or this body, and no recognition of my "self" except as "wrong". Contstantly my motives are mistattributed and the meaning of my words changes and reflected back at me. The person my dad thinks he loves is not the same person I feel inside. He doesn't want to know me, or rather, is not capable of knowing how to know me, and in that sense, I feel he loves me only as the label, "his daughter", and as his projection of me, but never really me, and sometimes this makes me devastatingly lonely.
With my mother there is more acceptance there. My dad tries, but we rub eachother the wrong way. Conversation is stilted.

So basically, I have a lot of back and forth.
I used to count on unconditional feeling of love from friends, but then social dynamics shifted and suddenly I was not "cool enough" anymore... and then I was sent into a downward spiral of that no one has ever loved me. This is when I started spending time on PerC, to escape loneliness.
And now I am not sure where I stand, except that I am still on PerC lol.
 

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I was writing a paper on Carl Rogers and I started wondering about this topic. To those who don't know, Rogers is a humanistic psychologist, who came up with client-centered therapy, among other concepts. At the core of this therapy, is the concept of unconditional positive regard. Basically, it's the notion of being completely and totally accepted, no matter what you say or do. According to Rogers, ideally, we're supposed to receive unconditional positive regard while growing up, in order to be able to completely embrace and accept ourselves.

(For more information: Unconditional positive regard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

My paper was about Rogers' life, and I was surprised to find out that he received absolutely no unconditional positive regard when he was little. In fact, it was quite conditional. When he wanted to step away from the religious family atmosphere, he almost got disowned. Perhaps he felt this lack, and later decided to incorporate it in therapy when he realized how much happier and in touch with myself he would be if he were to receive complete acceptance himself.

Quote by Rogers: "I feel warmed and fulfilled when I can let in the fact that, or permit myself to feel, that someone cares for, accepts, admires, or prizes me. Because of elements in my past history, I suppose, it has been very difficult for me to do this... For a long time, my reaction was: Who, me? You couldn't possibly care for me. You might like what I have done or my accomplishments, but not me."

My question to you lovely INFP's is: What about you? Was the positive regard conditional, or unconditional? Did your parents show you they loved you no matter what mistake you did, or what decisions you made? Or on the contrary, did you feel they only loved you when you acted the way they wanted you to?

Personally, I fall into the latter category. Reading Rogers' quote made me tear up a little because of how much I could relate to it.

(By the way, Rogers was an INFP! :kitteh:)
LOL! Was he INFP? Doesn't surprise me. Coincidentally I had this discussion, sort off, with @Luke the other day.
Personally I also fall in the latter category.

I can appreciate Rogers, but we should off course also consider whether a person accepts the (imperfect) world around him unconditionally and first of all himself (being imperfect).
 

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@adverseaffects

I kind of wanted to see your reply, I had a feeling we'd be having a similar experience, and as it turns out we do. I wish I could share what it's like for me, but I can't really put it into words. I can't explain this back and forth, the inability to relax, this mix of resentment and forgiveness as well as you do, you described it perfectly and I mean perfectly. I got my fair share of 'I hate you's and insults as well. You're not alone in this :) Thank you for sharing.

Wow, I really need to think right now.
 
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