In the blog entitled ‘Respecting Each Other’ dated 1st August 2019 we talked about having unconditional positive regard (UPR) for yourself as part of the means to communicate to others that their mistreatment of you is void. However, this attitude, or at least how it is termed, is quite a controversial concept if looked at through the lens of narcissism.
Is it really possible to hold UPR for yourself and not be completely self-centred, fully self-interested, have an exaggerated view of your own self-importance and no regard or empathy for others (i.e. being narcissistic)? I believe it is.
Also, does holding UPR for self mean that there is no recognition of mistakes made or for the need to change and grow? I believe this recognition can still be there – if not more so.
To my mind holding UPR for self in balance with UPR for others is the way forward. Even at the basic level of self-acceptance, it releases us to accept others. There is no longer a need to feel threatened by them or to prove ourselves to them. This does not mean that you think you are superior to others, are more important than them or that you believe you are at the centre of the universe and always right! It does mean, however, that you can view yourself positively even with your foibles, failings and things you’d like to change.
To hold yourself with a positive inner embrace of self-acceptance actually gives you the freedom to grow instead of being crushed and constricted by the negative voices that say you are no good. Yes it is good for us all to acknowledge our own weaknesses, but these also need to be held in tandem with a self-acceptance that stands, even in the face of our failures and faults. In this way we can celebrate the person we are at the same time as recognising that we want to become more of the best person we can be.
To denigrate ourselves, punish ourselves or even hate ourselves does not lead to growth. We need to utilise self-compassion and forgiveness when we have let ourselves and others down. Yes – be honest with ourselves when we have hurt someone and even face the consequences, but within it all we are still human beings that need to be cherished so that healing, restoration and wholeness can abide within us. Sometimes, there is no one around to do that for us and the only place it can really be sourced is from within ourselves. In a therapy situation this comes from the therapist, which then enables the client to internalise it so it becomes real to her within.
Please don’t mistake this for being an egotistical, narcissistic individual. It just means that you care. Not only about yourself, but also about how your presence and sense of self affects those around you. If you can feel positive about yourself, it is much easier to feel positive about others. In this way your UPR for yourself is fuelling your UPR for others.
Your need for one-upmanship, criticism of others and self promotion ebbs away when you realise, deeply, that it’s okay – just to be you.