The process we will work with here is extraordinarily subtle. I am going to ask you to learn to question your every assumption, everything you think you know. Your “koan” (a spiritual riddle, in the Zen tradition, that cannot be answered intellectually) is “Do I know that?” When, through a burst of intuitive knowing, you have successfully answered that koan, the next one will be, “How do I know that?”
Through this process, we learn to approach every moment of life without assumption, to cultivate a completely fresh awareness. If I hear a voice in my head say, “I’m not an artist,” rather than experiencing a reaction to that statement and assuming that the reaction means the statement is true — because the voice has always said that and I have always believed it — I am going to question that voice. I will ask myself questions designed to enable me to examine the situation more carefully. “Is that true? How do I know that’s true? What if it’s not true? What does it mean if it is true? What would it mean if it weren’t true? How did I get this information? Who is defining the terms? Who is setting the standards? How can I test this?”
Cheri Huber, How To Get From Where You Are To Where You Want To Be
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The actualizing tendency can, of course, be thwarted or warped, but it cannot be destroyed without destroying the organism. I remember that in my boyhood, the bin in which we stored our winter’s supply of potatoes was in the basement, several feet below a small window. The conditions were unfavorable, but the potatoes would begin to sprout — pale, white sprouts, so unlike the healthy green shoots they sent up when planted in the soil in the spring. But these sad, spindly sprouts would grow 2 or 3 feet in length as they reached toward the distant light of the window. The sprouts were, in their bizarre, futile growth, a sort of desperate expression of the directional tendency I have been describing. They would never become plants, never mature, never fulfill their real potential. But under the most adverse circumstances, they were striving to become. Life would not give up, even if it could not flourish. In dealing with clients whose lives have been terribly warped, in working with men and women on the back wards of state hospitals, I often think of those potato sprouts. So unfavorable have been the conditions in which these people have developed that their lives often seem abnormal, twisted, scarcely human. Yet, the directional tendency in them can be trusted. The clue to understanding their behavior is that they are striving, in the only ways that they perceive as available to them, to move toward growth, toward becoming. To healthy persons, the results may seem bizarre and futile, but they are life’s desperate attempt to become itself.
Carl Rogers, A Way of Being
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Yet there is, I believe, a much more important reason for my writing. It seems to me that I am still — inside — the shy boy who found communication very difficult in interpersonal situations: who wrote love letters which were more eloquent than his direct expressions of love; who expressed himself freely in high school themes, but felt himself too “odd” to say the same things in class. That boy is still very much a part of me. Writing is my way of communicating with a world to which, in a very real sense, I feel I do not quite belong. I wish very much to be understood, but I don’t expect to be. Writing is the message I seal in the bottle and cast into the sea. My astonishment is that people on an enormous number of beaches — psychological and geographical — have found the bottles and discovered that the messages speak to them. So I continue to write.
Carl Rogers, A Way of Being
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