6 Deep Carl Rogers Quotes to Help Grow Yourself
Human potential told by quotes from one of the founding fathers of psychotherapy research.
Being in the self-improvement world, I’ve come to learn that there are two core types of people.
There are people who listen to those with a tremendous amount of following. People like Robert Kiyosaki, Napoleon Hill, Tony Robbins, and Bob Proctor come to mind.
Then there are people who listen to those that aren’t as well known but have done phenomenal work.
One of these obscure individuals that I’ve come across is a man called Carl Rogers. From 1902 to 1987, this humanistic psychologist was a bit of a big deal in that he expanded on the ideologies of Abraham Maslow.
Yes, the guy who invented Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
The only issue was people really liked Maslow’s simplistic approach to human needs — judging by its sheer popularity to this day — and so Carl Rogers was cast aside.
But that doesn’t mean that Carl Rogers didn’t have anything important or profound. In fact, looking over what he’s done and what he believes in, his work was key in the foundation of the humanistic approach in psychology.
He’s also considered the founding father of psychotherapy research.
He considers growth from an environmental standpoint, agreeing with the main points of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but expanding on it. He argued at the time that for a person to grow, the environment must provide:
- A sense of genuineness. That being one should be open and able to participate in self-disclosure.
- Acceptance. The person should be seen with unconditional positive regard.
- And empathy. The person should be listened to and understood.
Without these things, true growth wouldn’t be able to be obtained. Rogers considers these as the sunlight and water of our lives. Without them, we can’t grow any stronger.
Overall, his work was crucial to the self-improvement world and so to explain how profound it was, it might be best to explain it through the various quotes he’s had over the years. Below I picked out some of the many that you can use to grow yourself.
The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.
As mentioned, Rogers does agree with the overall concept of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. One such point is that once we satisfy all other needs, the last remaining piece is self-actualization.
It’s here where Rogers provides a different perspective to the idea.
He wrote in the past that we already have the capacity to do this, after all, this is our one core motive:
“The organism has one basic tendency and striving — to actualize, maintain, and enhance the experiencing organism”
To him, self-actualization is more of a process. Similar to a flower, it’ll grow to its fullest potential when the conditions around it are right. People work in a somewhat similar fashion but we have the uniqueness of personality.
We have the ability to go from inherently good and creative individuals to destructive ones when a poor self-concept or external constraint overwhelm our valuing process.
As this quote suggests, if we want to be living a good life — achieving our goals, wishes, and desires — we have to see these things as markers to guide us rather than telling us this is the pinnacle of our potential.
The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.
Rogers also did work closely with students in his psychotherapy and counselling. By working with students, he developed student-centred learning, also called learner-centred education.
It broadly encompasses teaching techniques that focus on the students rather than the teacher. The idea is by putting the students' own growth, skills and learning into their own hands, this will help them develop learner autonomy and independence.
This comes back to the quote above because how we truly learn and grow is by changing our ways. Whether this is by a shift in thinking, in perspective, or by learning something new.
By being able to adapt and change to a moving environment, we’re able to grow and become more educated in the process. This is how we continue to learn well after school. By challenging what we think we know and seeking more information, we are expanding and growing ourselves.
The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.
When making a change in our lives, most self-improvement blogs talk about accepting the change you want to make as the first step.
If you’re replacing a bad habit, the first step is to accept the bad habit is a problem.
The first part of recovering is accepting the pain.
The first part of solving a problem is admitting it is a problem.
But what this quote suggests is that acceptance of those situations is rather the second step.
The first step is accepting who you are in the first place.
I think that’s incredible because so often when we try to troubleshoot our problems, pains, or bad habits, we prioritize drastic measures to remove those things from our lives.
We often don’t consider things like dwelling on the pain and using it to learn about ourselves.
We’re also more prone to stopping the bad habit rather than trying to replace it and reinforce it with a positive habit.
And sometimes when we try to solve our problems, we handle them in the worst possible way.
Sure it happens, but if we spend time accepting who we are and understand ourselves, we can avoid those kinds of issues in the first place.
When I look at the world, I’m pessimistic, but when I look at people, I am optimistic.
2020 has made this quote so apt. Beyond the pandemic, there is also how people have been handling this pandemic too. The world at large is getting worse and worse and it’s hard to be optimistic when people are spouting conspiracy theories left and right, people showing anger, violence, and hatred towards others amongst many other things.
But not all people are bad.
What we’ve done to the world is bad, but there are many people out there working to do remarkable things to balance everything out.
Growth occurs when individuals confront problems, struggle to master them, and through that struggle develop new aspects of their skills, capacities, views about life.
Another quote Rogers dropped is:
The facts are always friendly, every bit of evidence one can acquire, in any area, leads one that much closer to what is true.
And in my years of being in self-improvement, the quote above is true. The only way that I’ve been able to grow as a person over the years is to be facing the various problems that I have in my life, struggle with them and develop new ways to deal with problems.
It’s the same kind of logic as failure isn’t truly failure unless you didn’t learn anything from it.
Everything that we do has growth attached to it in some way, and it’s important that we spend time to notice it, digest it, and apply it moving forward.
People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, “Soften the orange a bit on the right-hand corner.” I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.
People and many in the self-improvement world do this all the time:
They see someone doing something that they consider wrong and try to change that person. It’s as if they think these people are broken and that somehow our words have some way of “fixing the person”.
I don’t believe that people are broken. Instead, people are either misinformed, mislead, or have an environment that is limiting their own growth and worldview.
That’s not to say that a guiding hand is not necessary. We’re able to enjoy sunsets thanks to gravity amongst other things. Those aspects are our own guiding hands to our own potential.
These things ensure that we’re staying on the proper path of our life — whatever that vision of our ideal life happens to be. Similarly, gravity ensures we stay in the same orbit around the sun.
When we see people do bad things or live a lifestyle that we don’t approve of, it boils down to what Rogers has mentioned before about the environment in which we grow in. If we lack empathy, acceptance, and a sense of genuineness, we become destructive forces in areas of our lives. They become toxic places and we become toxic people as a result.
What’s more important is that we create these environments of empathy, acceptance, and a sense of genuineness. People change all the time and can steer themselves onto the proper path eventually. All it takes is effort on our part to create these environments and the other person to make an effort in changing and delving into self-actualization.
And for those already on this path of self-actualization, tell people to give you some space and keep working on your potential. We are constant work in processes. As such, there will be people who will eventually be in awe of what you are doing and what you’ve achieved.
Carl Rogers didn’t publish highly recognizable books, but his work and the various books he published set up the foundation for a number of things. His ideas of growth are inspiring and stretch beyond what some of the more prominent individuals have been speaking about over the years.
His work was crucial to the psychotherapy world and ultimately led us to learn more about ourselves and how we can unlock a deeper potential unlike anything else.