Denial of Positive Experiences

Our example of the gifted pianist illustrates that it is not only the negative or derogatory experiences that are distorted or denied to awareness; many people have difficulty accepting genuine compliments and positive feedback, even when deserved. A student who feels inadequate but yet makes a superior grade might say to herself, "I know this grade should be evidence of my scholastic ability, but somehow I just don't feel that way. This class was the easiest one on campus. The other students just didn't try. My teacher did not know what she was doing." Compliments, even those genuinely dispensed, seldom have a positive influence on the self-concept of the recipient. They may be distorted because the person distrusts the giver, or they may be denied because the recipient does not feel deserving of them; in all cases, a compliment from another also implies the right of that person to criticize or condemn, and thus the compliment carries an implied tlneat (Rogers, 1961).

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