I was writing today about unconditional positive regard. It’s such a warm and fuzzy and nice concept. We should always strive to accept the other person as a valuable and separate entity. Of course, that’s impossible. Even Rogers referred to “unconditional positive regard” as “an unfortunate phrasing” because the best we can hope for is intermittent positive regard.
Then, while writing about Rogers, I received a link in my email to an article about Lamar Odom. In case you’re not aware, Odom is the NBA basketball player in the news lately because he’s in the hospital after having a drug overdose at a brothel.
Here’s the link: https://www.thenation.com/article/lamar-odom-deserves-better/
Then I read the article. And I recognized (again, for the seven millionth time) how easy it is to immediately judge another person—especially based on some quick media information. I always seem to rush to judgment . . . instead of thinking that there’s probably a better, more understanding, and more compassionate way of thinking about that person, in this case, Lamar Odom.
Living life in reality is much more difficult than living a life “in theory.” Many mornings I wake up feeling profound acceptance and connection. In that moment, I think I love everybody. And so while lying in bed, I commit myself to being perfectly accepting, loving, and compassionate. Typically, after getting up, I can’t sustain this commitment more than 15 minutes before judgmental thoughts begin raining on my acceptance parade. What makes it so hard to be accepting? What makes it so easy to judge others?
Of course, we shouldn’t judge Lamar Odom based on what we know of him from the media. That’s obvious. But even more importantly, we shouldn’t even judge our neighbors based on our direct experiences with them. There’s nearly always more to the story.
There’s nearly always more room for compassionate acceptance.
And besides the fact that we should all practice more compassionate acceptance just because . . . it’s also true that judging our neighbors too harshly almost always just ends up creating one sort or another of unpleasantness. It might be worth avoiding all that.
So, tomorrow, for my birthday, my goal is to make it 16 minutes into the day before the judgments start. Then I’ll have a real reason to celebrate.
6 thoughts on “Why is it so Easy to be Judgmental and so Hard to be Accepting? Reflections on Lamar Odom and Neighbors”
I like this article. Happy birthday, and I’m betting on that sixteen minutes. I like “intermittent positive regard.” I think it also applies to oneself, how hard it is to truly accept who we are.
Back from Italy, enjoying the quiet. Love to Rita,
Thanks Joyce. I hope Italy was fabulous! And yes, intermittent positive regard for the self is a reasonable goal. All my best to you and Gary. Love, John
So hard, but so easy to try to do a little better in this regard:). Happy birthday!!
Thanks Kim. Just a little better every day. Right? I hope life is well for you and Dr. Snoop.
Great article John, thank you for your articulate writing, as usual.
Your description of waking up full of love for everybody…and “…15 minutes later judgement raining on your acceptance parade” resonated deeply with me, it was as if you are my twin. But, secretly, I felt a sense of relief to know that others also feel this way 😉
I always try to find ‘something’ to love about my clients and indeed everybody, but sometimes it can be very difficult.
This reminds me of a story about Milton Erickson, who saw a man he found repulsive in many ways. He was rude in manner, unwashed & wore filthy clothes and was generally just not nice. Apparently, Erickson thought to himself that he must find something about this man to love, if he was going to be able to help him in therapy. Turned out, this man had only one tooth in his mouth. And Erickson focused on that one tooth…and decided it was indeed a very fine tooth. He came to admire and love that one tooth.
Happy birthday for tomorrow from Australia 🎂🎉
Thanks Susan! I love the Erickson story. When struggling, I’ll focus in on one very fine tooth . . . somewhere.