Excerpted from Chapter 7 of Living Stress Free:

Carl Rogers was one of the pioneers of Interactional Psychology, believing that
psychological health was due mainly to healthy communication between people.
He was one of the first of the new school of psychologists like Abraham Maslow and
Eric Berne, who tended away from concepts of life being predetermined and
irrevocably fixed by one's early conditioning or the mystical complexes inspired by
tortuous imaginations. He felt most strongly that, in working with and attempting to
understand other human beings, one could always find a strong impulse towards
positive growth.
In his many years of experience he began to formulate a concept which I shall
paraphrase, "The curious paradox is that when I can accept myself as I am then I
change; and when I can accept you as you are then you change." Rogers found that
the more he was able to accept both himself and the patient as they were, then the
more change seemed to occur in both of them. Therapy became a mutual growth
process.

So now, I say to my patients: "What part of your personality do you fight? If you can
accept it, it will change." Usually they will say they don't know, so I start throwing out
suggestions to see if they fit, such as:

     "I accept the fact that I bottle up feelings which then show themselves as
      physical symptoms."
     "I accept the fact that I am non-assertive and allow people to manipulate me."
    "I accept the fact that I have difficulty coping with stress."

Gradually, I accumulated quite a list of such suggestions and patients were able to
identify with some of them and thus make self acceptance easier.

If you can accept yourself as you are and give yourself permission to have
difficulty with it, then the curious paradox is that you will change. I do not know how it
works, but I do know that it does work. This "Paradox of Change" of Carl Rogers is
expressing in slightly different terms the "Law of Inverse Effort" of Emil Coue, "The
harder you try, the less likely you are to succeed" and the "Law of Paradoxical
Intention" of Viktor Frankl, "If you try hard to go to sleep, you stay awake; if you try
hard to stay awake, you go to sleep." The important thing is to be able to say, "I
accept the fact that I have difficulty coping with stress, and that's O.K."

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