Carl Rogers, the father of humanistic psychology, said that people are fundamentally motivated by two things: to develop and to be loved. However, sometimes these two desires can be incompatible. For example, you plan to move away to get the job you’ve always wanted, but your family is not too keen on the idea and they let you know their opinion in no uncertain terms. So you’ve got a dilemma on your hands. Rogers said that problems occur when love is given with strings attached (“conditional love”). According to Rogers, love can never be conditional. If we try to get others to love us at the expense of denying our own desires and beliefs, we will end up paying a price. All decisions involve giving up something and bearing a cost. Moving away from one’s family and being alone is without doubt a painful experience, but so is betraying oneself and one’s innermost desires. It’s up to each person when faced with this type of dilemma to decide what price he/she would rather pay.

Joan Garriga summed this up with the brilliant phrase: “Growing means accepting blame”. Garriga, from whom I’ve learnt a lot, says that blame arises when we do not fulfil the expectations which others have of us. But if we want to grow, we have to be willing to pay that price. Not conforming to others’ desires does not mean, of course, being some sort of James Dean-like figure; it simply means being firm in our convictions. Sometimes we have no choice but to accept decisions which we do not agree with, as frequently happens at work. However, we must not ignore our inner voice. Being faithful to one’s ideals is an act of courage as it can cause us to be misunderstood, even by those closest to us, and leave us on our own. (We also might want to think about whether conditional love, to use Rogers’ term, is worth having…)

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