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Are you ‘The Person of Tomorrow’?

July 1, 2009

Carl Rogers’ person centred therapy was the core approach used throughout my counselling training. He believed that for a positive therapeutic relationship to be formed, it was necessary to have three core conditions: empathy, congruence (being authentic) and unconditional positive regard (non-possessive liking and appreciation) for the client. Of course, all these qualities occur in the loving relationship too – and ideally not just in your relationship with others but in the one you have with your self too. This is why personal development is so important, and not just from a ‘healer, heal thyself!’ point of view. All of us can benefit from healing our emotional wounds by learning to give ourselves empathy, discovering our authentic selves and improving our self regard.

However, I had no idea that Rogers had such a progressive and holistic view of the future until I read this piece, written almost thirty years ago in 1980, in Holistic Revolution: The Essential Reader (edited by William Bloom). Rogers advocated the theory that everything is vibrating energy and believed that a paradigm shift was occurring – a critical mass building of people with certain qualities and beliefs, which would result in significant social transformation. He lists these qualities in the article below and reflects on how he had begun to encounter more and more people who embodied them (though also made a point of documenting that no-one possessed all of them).

Here are the characteristics which Rogers believed the ‘person of tomorrow’ would need to enable them ‘to live in this utterly revolutionised world’. Do you feel you possess any of them? Do you recognise these qualities in yourself and/or others? My belief is that now, three decades on, there are people on this planet who do have all of these attributes and attitudes. Are you one of them?

The qualities of the person of tomorrow

1. Openness. These persons have an openness to the world – both inner and outer. They are open to experience, to new ways of seeing, new ways of being, new ideas and concepts.

2. Desire for authenticity. I find that these persons value communication as a means of telling it the way it is. They reject the hypocrisy, deceit, and doubletalk of our culture. They are open, for example, about their sexual relationships, rather than leading a secretive or double life.

3. Scepticism regarding science and technology. They have a deep distrust of our current science and the technology that is used to conquer the world of nature and to control the world’s people. On the other hand, when science – such as biofeedback – is used to enhance self-awareness and control of the person by the person, they are eager supporters.

4. Desire for wholeness. These persons do not like to live in a compartmentalized world – body and mind, health and illness, intellect and feeling, science and common sense, individual and group, sane and insane, work and play. They strive rather for a wholeness of life, with thought, feeling, physical energy, psychic energy, healing energy, all being integrated in experience.

5. The wish for intimacy. They are seeking new forms of closeness, of intimacy, of shared purpose. They are seeking new forms of communication in such a community – verbal as well as non-verbal, feelingful as well as intellectual.

6. Process persons. They are keenly aware that the one certainty of life is change – that they are always in process, always changing. They welcome this risk-taking way of being and are vitally alive in the way they face change.

7. Caring. These persons are caring, eager to be of help to others when the need is real. It is a gentle, subtle, non-moralistic, non-judgemental caring. They are suspicious of the professional ‘helpers’.

8. Attitude towards nature. They feel a closeness to, and a caring for, elemental nature. They are ecologically minded, and they get their pleasure from an alliance with the forces of nature, rather than in the conquest of nature.

9. Anti-institutional. These individuals have an antipathy for any highly structured, inflexible, bureaucratic institution. They believe that institutions should exist for people, not the reverse.

10. The authority within. These persons have a trust in their own experience and a profound distrust of external authority. They make their own moral judgements, even openly disobeying laws that they consider unjust.

11. The unimportance of material things. These individuals are fundamentally indifferent to material comforts and rewards. Money and material status symbols are not their goal. They can live with affluence, but it is in no way necessary to them.

12. A yearning for the spiritual. These persons of tomorrow are seekers. They wish to find a meaning and purpose in life that is greater than the individual. Some are led into cults, but more are examining all the ways by which humankind has found values and forces that extend beyond the individual. They wish to live a life of inner peace. Their heroes are spiritual persons – Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Teilhard de Chardin. Sometimes, in altered states of consciousness, they experience the unity and harmony of the universe.

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6 comments

  1. Nice reminder. I had forgotten about Rogers. Finding him mentioned here is like encountering an old friend!


  2. It’s a while since I’d read anything related to him too, Trish, so this article was a pleasant surprise, for all the reasons I discuss in the article.

    Incidentally, when I was typing this blog entry I thought to myself ‘Hmm, who’s this Chardin fellow?’ – only to pick up a random book that night and find a whole page about him… 🙂


  3. Very interesting article. I believe that more than a person of tomorrow, I would say that this is the kind of person the present world is in need of! I believe in EVERYONE internalizing these characteristics and living them out. It is not reserved for leaders, psychologists, therapists, gurus, etc. It is my call, I need to experience the person I am fully, here and now, and find the meaning of my existence. I believe, with Rogers, that this is possible for every human being, because we have all been endowed with the capacity to fulfill these goals – with self-actualization as the zenith of this process. Unless one is incapacitated by the “environment” as understood and explained by Fritz Perls in gestalt therapy, we are all responsible for internalizing and living out these sacred (not necessarily religious) values. Thanks for sharing.


    • You’re very welcome, Teresa, I really love this article too and often refer back to it. Thanks for your comment 🙂


  4. Yes, I have all of those attributes—which includes feeling shy about saying this. Because the truth of the matter is in how you live, what is shown.


    • I think this is a great article, Gary – Carl Rogers was a very wise man and it would be great if more people shared these attributes. And I agree – I always say the best way to change the world is to lead through example – ‘be the change’ as another wise man once said 🙂 Thank you for your comment, and always good to hear that there are more of us out there! Warm wishes – Sharon



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