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.