Being a Fully Functioning Person
We’ve all heard the term “fully-functioning person” but what does it actually mean?
Humanist psychologist, Carl Rogers believed that we are all born with an “Actualizing Tendency.” This actualizing tendency is our innate tendency, our core desire, to fulfill all of our needs both physically and mentally, to express our true selves, and most importantly to become all that we are capable of becoming! He said that our personalities were simply an expression of this actualizing tendency.
He went on to say that we are all striving to fully release our actualizing tendency and in order for that to occur, we must experience three things.
The first — “unconditional positive regard.” Unconditional positive regard is a lot like unconditional love, for it is where we are loved by another with no strings or conditions attached, and no matter what we do we still feel respected, comforted and loved. Unconditional positive regard has the ability to change people’s lives and it’s never too late to feel its positive effects.
The second — empathy. Rogers said that people become
more fulfilled by interacting with people who are empathic towards them. People who are sensitive listeners and understanding of another’s true feelings are said to be empathic.
The third — genuineness. Being genuine means being open with your feelings and dropping all pretenses and facades. Rogers felt that we can help others simply by being present for them as the authentic individuals we are.
If our actualizing tendency is fully released, a person is said to be a “fully-functioning person.” A person who is fully functioning is a person who is living in accordance with his or her actualizing tendency — being true to one’s self versus being true to other people’s values or conditions of worth, having their needs met all the way around, and achieving their full potential.
I really resonate with Carl Roger’s work, even though it was ground-breaking over five decades ago. He believed that people are like sunflower seeds…once planted in rich soil and given enough sunshine and water, they will grow into strong and beautiful flowers — that given the right environment all human beings will flourish. (Did you see Trading Spaces with Eddie Murphy?)
Moreover, Rogers believed as I do, that we are all born with natural capacities for growth and fulfillment. I love that he said we were all endowed with an innate sense — basically our gut instinct, our intuition — that allows us to genuinely evaluate what is good or bad for us. I feel we need to remind ourselves that it’s wise to listen to our own internal guidance system. Who better to help navigate our life? Lastly, he validates the theory for me that we are connected when he says we really do need to be loved, liked or accepted by those around us.
So question. Do you help people become fully functioning? Are you an understanding listener? Are you free from pretense and facades with people? What if we gave each other the gifts of positive regard, empathy and genuineness? What if we honestly believed that people could do great things? What do you think would happen? I say let’s try it and find out. Let’s create a rich environment and watch human beings flourish!