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50 Carl Rogers Quotes About Psychology and Behavior

Carl Rogers, born in 1902, is an American psychologist who helped establish a humanistic approach to psychology. Carl Rogers’ theory (1959) aligns closely with Maslow’s, in the sense that he “believed that humans have one basic motive, that is the tendency to self-actualize – i.e., to fulfill one’s potential and achieve the highest level of ‘human beingness’ we can.” These Carl Rogers quotes speak to his knowledge of life, people, and behavior.

Part of his theory stated that “for a person to “grow”, they need an environment that provides them with genuineness (openness and self-disclosure), acceptance (being seen with unconditional positive regard), and empathy (being listened to and understood).”

He also believed that people are inherently good and that they could achieve what he referred to as becoming a “fully functioning person.” He identified five characteristics that people needed to achieve in order to reach that goal. Keep reading to discover just how close you are to being a fully functioning person!

Don’t forget to also check out these Abraham Maslow quotes on motivation and being human.

Famous Carl Rogers quotes on change, person-centered counseling, and more

1. “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” ― Carl R. Rogers

2. “A person is a fluid process, not a fixed and static entity; a flowing river of change, not a block of solid material; a continually changing constellation of potentialities, not a fixed quantity of traits.” ― Carl R. Rogers

3. “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” ― Carl R. Rogers

4. “If I let myself really understand another person, I might be changed by that understanding. And we all fear change. So, as I say, it is not an easy thing to permit oneself to understand an individual.” ― Carl R. Rogers

5. “We cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are until we thoroughly accept what we are. Then change seems to come about almost unnoticed.” ― Carl R. Rogers

6. “Change threatens, and its possibility creates frightened, angry people. They are found in their purest essence on the extreme right, but in all of us, there is some fear of process, of change.” ― Carl R. Rogers

7. “He has a better understanding of himself, becomes more open to his experience, denies or represses less of his experience. He becomes more accepting in his attitudes toward others, seeing others as more similar to himself.” ― Carl R. Rogers

8. “In his behavior, he shows similar changes. He is less frustrated by stress and recovers from stress more quickly. He becomes more mature in his everyday behavior, as this is observed by friends.” ― Carl R. Rogers

Carl Rogers quotes on behavior and experience

9. “I have come to feel that the only learning which significantly influences behavior is self-discovered, self-appropriated learning.” ― Carl R. Rogers

10. “Behavior is basically the goal-directed attempt of the organism to satisfy its needs, as experienced in the field as perceived.” ― Carl R. Rogers

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11. “It seems to me that anything that can be taught to another is relatively inconsequential and has little or no significant influence on behavior.” ― Carl R. Rogers

12. “The concept of “cure” is entirely inappropriate, since in most of these disorders we are dealing with learned behavior, not with a disease.” ― Carl R. Rogers

13. “Once an experience is fully in awareness, fully accepted, then it can be coped with effectively, like any other clear reality.” ― Carl R. Rogers

14. “Another way of learning for me is to state my own uncertainties, to try to clarify my puzzlements, and thus get closer to the meaning that my experience actually seems to have.” ― Carl R. Rogers

15. “To recognize that “I am the one who chooses” and “I am the one who determines the value of an experience for me” is both an invigorating and a frightening realization.” ― Carl R. Rogers

16. “To be responsibly self-directing means that one chooses—and then learns from the consequences. So clients find this a sobering but exciting kind of experience.” ― Carl R. Rogers

Carl Rogers quotes about feelings, love, and relationships

17. “I regret it when I suppress my feelings too long and they burst forth in ways that are distorted or attacking or hurtful.” ― Carl R. Rogers

18. “In therapy, the individual learns to recognize and express his feelings as his own feelings, not as a fact about another person.” ― Carl R. Rogers

19. “In my relationships with persons, I have found that it does not help, in the long run, to act as though I were something that I am not.” ― Carl R. Rogers

20. “The strongest force in our universe is not overriding power, but love.” ― Carl R. Rogers

21. “What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.” ― Carl R. Rogers

22. “What is most personal, is most universal.” ― Carl R. Rogers

23. “When a person realizes he has been deeply heard, his eyes moisten. I think in some real sense he is weeping for joy. It is as though he were saying, ‘Thank God, somebody heard me. Someone knows what it’s like to be me.’” ― Carl R. Rogers

24. “True empathy is always free of any evaluative or diagnostic quality. This comes across to the recipient with some surprise. ‘If I am not being judged, perhaps I am not so evil or abnormal as I have thought.’” ― Carl R. Rogers

25. “I am centered in the group member who is speaking and am unquestionably much less interested in the details of his quarrel with his wife, or of his difficulties on the job, or his disagreement with what has just been said, than in the meaning these experiences have for him now and the feeling they arouse in him. It is to these meanings and feelings that I try to respond.” ― Carl R. Rogers

26. “When asked a question, I try to consult my own feelings. If I sense it as being real and containing no other message than the question, then I will try my best to answer it.” ― Carl R. Rogers

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Carl Rogers quotes about life, living, and learning

27. “Am I living in a way which is deeply satisfying to me, and which truly expresses me?” ― Carl R. Rogers

28. “The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ― Carl R. Rogers

29. “You can’t possibly be afraid of death, really, you can only be afraid of life.” ― Carl R. Rogers

30. “I’m not perfect… But I’m enough.” ― Carl R. Rogers

31. “I have learned that my total organismic sensing of a situation is more trustworthy than my intellect.” ― Carl R. Rogers

32. “It is so obvious when a person is not hiding behind a facade but is speaking from deep within himself.” ― Carl R. Rogers

33. “Evaluation by others is not a guide for me. The judgments of others, while they are to be listened to, and taken into account for what they are, can never be a guide for me. This has been a hard thing to learn.” ― Carl R. Rogers

34. “I like to think of myself as a quiet revolutionary.” ― Carl R. Rogers

35. “One skeptical college administrator said that the main things he had learned was that he could withdraw from personal participation, be comfortable about it, and realize that he would not be coerced. To me, this seemed valuable learning and one that would make it much more possible for him actually to participate at the next opportunity.” ― Carl R. Rogers

36. “If awareness and conscious thought are seen as a part of life – not its master nor its opponent but an illumination of the developing process within the individual – then our total life can be the unified and unifying experience that is characteristic in nature.” ― Carl R. Rogers

37. “When I try to teach, as I do sometimes, I am appalled by the results, which seem a little more than inconsequential, because sometimes the teaching appears to succeed.” ― Carl R. Rogers

Carl Rogers quotes about people and the person-centered approach

38. “People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, ‘Soften the orange a bit on the right-hand corner.’ I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.” ― Carl R. Rogers

39. “To be what one is is to enter fully into being a process.” ― Carl R. Rogers

40. “Can I “accept” a person’s anger at me as an authentic aspect of himself? Can I “accept” the person if his beliefs and values are different from mine?” ― Carl R. Rogers

41. “I believe that individuals nowadays are probably more aware of their inner loneliness than has ever been true before in history.” ― Carl R. Rogers

42. “I believe that even our most abstract and philosophical views spring from an intensely personal base.” ― Carl R. Rogers

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43. “The intolerant “true believer” is a menace to any field, yet I suspect each one of us finds traces of that person in ourself.” ― Carl R. Rogers

44. “It becomes easier for me to accept myself as a decidedly imperfect person, who by no means functions at all times in the way in which I would like to function.” ― Carl R. Rogers

45. “The only way to understand another culture is to assume the frame of reference of that culture.” ― Carl R. Rogers

46. “There is no doubt that I am selective in my listening, hence “directive” if people wish to accuse me of this.” ― Carl R. Rogers

47. “If a person wishes to remain psychologically on the sidelines, he has my implicit permission to do so.” ― Carl R. Rogers

48. “It is this knowledge of the past that gives me courage to propose methods for dealing with intercultural, interracial, and international tensions. I believe that if the public becomes truly aware that present-day policies are targeted directly toward the destruction of all of us, then they may decide to look for alternatives. And the person-centered approach offers just such an alternative.” ― Carl R. Rogers

49. “He changes his perception of himself, becoming more realistic in his views of self. He becomes more like the person he wishes to be. He values himself more highly. He is more self-confident and self-directing.” ― Carl R. Rogers

50. “A second characteristic of the persons who emerge from therapy is difficult to describe. It seems that the person increasingly discovers that his own organism is trustworthy, that it is a suitable instrument for discovering the most satisfying behavior in each immediate situation.” ― Carl R. Rogers

What did you learn from these Carl Rogers quotes?

Carl Rogers believed that the first characteristic of a fully functioning person depended on their willingness to be open to experiences. This meant accepting that positive and negative emotions had to be acknowledged.

Living in the moment, or existential living is the second characteristic of a fully functioning person. Dwelling on the past or planning too far into the future takes away from what you are experiencing right now.

The third characteristic he describes is the degree to which a person trusts their feelings and decisions. Next, he felt that fully functioning people are able to be creative and take risks. Lastly, living a fulfilled life, one where you are happy and satisfied, yet still seeking challenges would mean you were fully functioning.

Rogers believed that we could all get there, but much like Maslow’s concept of self-actualization felt that most people would not reach this level. What do you think? I know there are days where I definitely do not feel like a fully functioning adult!

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Carl Rogers quotes and sayings? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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