Dr. Drake Spaeth, Saybrook University’s Department Chair for Humanistic Psychology, penned an article this past summer (2019) for our UnBound digital magazine on being human in the 21st century. How timely this article is given all the rapid change we are experiencing in this current era. Dr. Spaeth’s particular take on this topic is both deeply thoughtful and inspiring. Please take a moment to read and reflect on his powerful words. For the full article, go here.
Famed psychologist Carl Rogers used a powerful analogy to describe the human longing to be whole. If potatoes are left alone in a dark cellar, they will still do what potatoes will do. They will sprout! Even in the dark, they will grow in distorted ways, toward whatever light they can find. It may result in a very mutated looking plant, but nevertheless they long for the light.
This is a great analogy to what it is that we, as humans, long for: wholeness. It is what humanistic psychology has always been about—coming into wholeness out of an experience of feeling broken. When we feel like we are only allowed or permitted to be pieces of ourselves in relationships, in workplaces, and at home, we feel claustrophobic and small, and we desire to be more of who we are, genuinely and authentically. We may never be completely whole our entire lives, but we are always moving toward that end, carried by our longing. Intimate, healthy, and loving relationships provide the light that we need to nourish emerging wholeness. When others can accept us non-judgmentally for who we are, we give ourselves permission to do the same with ourselves. We then change in ways that align with our longing.
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
- Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy