Unconditional Positive Regard
I was dreading the dog walk I had scheduled last week. Why? Because of the comments I read from others who had walked the dogs in the past. Things like, "Terrible." "I will never walk these dogs again." "They pull and fight each other." Not to mention it was going to be a 60 minute walk. I had seen a picture of the dogs, a Golden Doodle and a Dalmatian. I had it in my mind that the Dalmatian would be the dog that would give me the most trouble, they are known to be high-strung and energetic.
Here are a few things I learned. I really was dreading the walk and was regretting saying yes to it all based on what others had said. As it turns out, it really wasn't as bad as all the notes said. Yes, they pulled a bit and the play fighting was frustrating, but overall they did pretty good. And, the Golden Doodle was the one that instigated the trouble, the Dalmatian was very well behaved. How does this lesson transfer to other experiences? You need to have first hand knowledge of people and experiences before you form your opinion. And going into a situation thinking it is going to be awful, sure doesn't help things. Sometimes, you might surprise yourself if you go into a situation with an open mind and believing the best about all involved. You might just be surprised.
There is a concept I was first introduced to in my coaching training, practice unconditional positive regard. It was developed by Carl Rogers, who was a psychologist who developed the client-centered approach to therapy. In a nutshell, unconditional positive regard refers to accepting and supporting another exactly as they are, without evaluating or judging them. Outside of therapy you can use it by thinking of positive aspects about the person or the situation before you get to the event or meeting. It really does help shape your attitude toward the other person. You can find at least one positive thing about anyone, even if it is as simple as the truth that they are made in the image of God and therefore need to be treated with love and respect. Treating them like you would like to be treated, without judgment.
I was pleasantly surprised that the dogs weren't as terrible as the comments had said, they were actually very sweet... they were just being dogs.