Editor’s note: These posts were written back when my brand name was Remodel Fitness. I’ve decided to include them here without editing them, in the interest of…well… transparency. 😉
I recently learned the term “unconditional positive regard.”
It’s a term that comes from the world of therapy, and it’s absolutely amazing.
The idea is that a therapist must see the best in their patient, always assuming the patient is more wise and wonderful than even the patient knows.
Holding someone in unconditional positive regard means seeing the best in them even when they don’t. Seeing them as smart even when they feel dumb, seeing them as whole even when they feel broken. By doing this, you hold a space for them to be those wonderful things.
You set them free from the labels of smallness they have been carrying, and allow them to expand and become more authentically them.
I’m not a therapist of course, but this concept perfectly sums up the incredible phenomenon I see occur every day with everyone, when you treat them as though they are amazing. If you treat someone the way they see themselves– broken, fucked up, stupid, ugly– you will treat them as a bare-minimum version of who they can be. They will stay small, and their negative identity will be reinforced.
But if you treat them as whole, beautiful, wise, and full of gifts- they can suddenly expand beyond that and become so much more.
Spending your loving attention on someone helps them bloom. Think of every movie about a fucked up kid who transforms because one visionary coach or teacher or parent figure believed in them. That’s unconditional positive regard, and it only takes one person to hold space for us to experience that transformation.
This shit is powerful. I whole-heartedly believe in using unconditional positive regard to help people step into their light and make the world a better place.
But unconditional positive regard also serves another purpose. In my opinion, the person who treats other people this way gets the biggest benefit. When you treat others like a gift, you receive the greatest gift of all, because people show you their best selves.
You are suddenly granted access to the best in humanity. You are suddenly surrounded by kindness, connection, beauty, authenticity, and joy. Your entire world is transformed, when you see the best in everyone, and treat them accordingly.
Without even knowing this term existed, unconditional positive regard has turned my life into an endless parade of light and love over the last 2.5 years.
It’s actually so much more than just “seeing the best in people” though. It’s a legitimate belief that every single person I meet has gifts for me, and that those gifts will be revealed if I allow the person to truly be themselves.
Likewise, it’s also a belief that I have gifts for each person, and that it’s my duty to be truly and authentically myself, so that the person may receive them. In this way, my life has become an endless human gift exchange, and it is my reason for being.
Try holding someone in unconditional positive regard, and see what happens. Try treating someone like her very existence is a gift to you. Treat her like you already know she likes you, and wants to be your friend. Treat her like, despite her flaws and insecurities, you know what a glorious and gorgeous creature she is underneath. Treat her like that glorious and gorgeous creature.
Maybe your kindness and courage will help someone open up, expand, and become more glorious and gorgeous. Maybe it will give someone inspiration to treat others similarly, and in this way your kindness and courage will create a ripple effect across the world.
Jessi Kneeland Get strong. Feel confident. Look amazing.
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