The quotes of Fritz Perls still inspire us today. He is a co-founder of Gestalt therapy along with his wife Laura Perls and the sociologist Paul Goodman. Perls has always encouraged people to achieve well-being in different areas of their existence through a creative approach, recognition of their feelings, and through attention.
We should not leave unsaid that Fritz Perls designed his therapeutic model in the fifties in his Institute of Gestalt Therapy in New York. The approach has evolved greatly since then. We are undoubtedly dealing with an integrative psychological model that can help many people to focus on their thoughts, feelings and behaviors, thereby developing appropriate self-awareness and discovering new ways of seeing in order to bring about positive change.
Anyone who uses the Gestalt Technique every day defines this therapeutic model as something very alive, spontaneous and creative. What is achieved above all is a strengthened confidence in one's own abilities to deal efficiently and successfully with the problems of everyday life and thus to realize one's full potential.
We should also mention here that we should not confuse Gestalt psychology with Gestalt therapy. You are not the same. The former emerged as a psychological movement in the early 20th century. Gestalt psychology was developed in the early twentieth century and came into being through theorists such as Kurt Lewin, Max Wertheimer and Kurt Koffka. It offers an alternative to the elementalism of structuralism, which sees the human being as a whole. Gestalt therapy, on the other hand, has its roots in human psychology, whose primary goal is to help people in their present situation and to show them the multitude of possibilities they have.
If there was something that Fritz Perls himself achieved, it was to combine a therapeutic approach with an authentic philosophy of life, with the help of which we can improve the quality of our relationships as well as our education, and which even offers the corporate world new tools to use human potential more effectively.
Principle of Gestalt therapy
"I am I. You are you.
I am responsible for my life and you are responsible for yours.
I am not there to meet your expectations,
nor are you there to fulfill mine.
When our paths cross, it is beautiful, but when they don't, we will have to go our separate ways.
Because I don't love myself if I betray myself just to make you happy.
I don't love you either if I want you to be the way I want you to be instead of accepting you for who you are.
You are you and I am me."
The best quotes of Fritz Perls: wise words that make you think
Many say that the quotations of Fritz Perls are illuminating words about human knowledge, theoretical essences that make us realize something. It is always interesting to delve into his works to reflect and learn something new. If we are particularly fond of Gestalt therapy, it is worth reading books like Fundamentals of Gestalt Therapy, which is part of the history of psychology.
Below we would like to look at a few examples of these principles with the best quotes from Fritz Perls.
1. "Everything flows as soon as you find mental well-being."
Once we find this fine balance in our existence, from which we no longer see hurdles but paths, we feel free and our being can therefore flow. As we have mentioned elsewhere, Gestalt therapy crosses the boundaries of this space shared by the therapist and the patient, so that we acquire new attitudes.
Fritz Perls built Gestalt therapy on this existential dimension, where any positive, receptive and enriching attitude allows us to flow and progress on our paths.
2. "To be present in the here and now, we must unite our attention and our consciousness."
This is one of the most famous quotes by Fritz Perls. From it one of the most important concepts of Gestalt therapy can be derived: "consciousness" or "awareness". This involves an awakening in which our attention and consciousness make contact with the present in order to favor our personal growth.
3. "The organism knows everything, but we know very little. Our intuition is the intelligence of the organism."
The human being is the result of the union of his organism, his conscious mind and his interaction with the environment. Yet, we spend much of our lives being "disconnected", asleep, and are not able to take advantage of this association. If you don't trust what your senses, your heart or your intuition tell you, you will never gain that wisdom that Fritz Perls talks about.
4. " A therapist is incessantly looking for ways to get in touch with the how of events that are happening in the present."
When the therapist asks the patient how they are feeling, it is often the case that they get in response "Bad", "I am confused", "I am angry", etc. One of the goals of the therapist is to find out what triggers this present feeling. He wants to enlighten about feelings and always favor a conversation in the first person and focused on the present.
"Finding out what is blocking an important development is our task alone."
5. "I'm not in this world to meet everyone else's expectations, nor is the world here to meet mine."
Integrity, self-confidence, self-assurance, and a reflective consciousness – all of these dimensions are cornerstones of Gestalt therapy, and at the same time, this is one of Fritz Perls' most popular quotes.
6. "To mature means to take responsibility for your own life and to be able to be alone."
We have to take responsibility for ourselves in the present moment, and taking that step means maturing and giving ourselves the opportunity to enjoy ourselves. And for this we must sometimes be alone.
7. "To learn is to discover that something is possible."
To move forward, to grow, and to develop proper self-awareness is to become aware of all the potential we have as human beings.
"Our dependence makes us slaves, especially when that dependence means a dependence on our self-esteem. If you need the whole world to encourage you, praise you and strengthen you, you are responsible for the whole world to be your judge."
8. "A person who is most controlling is a person who cannot handle control."
Sometimes we humans develop such extreme self-control, through which we achieve solely to suppress our true needs. An example of this is when we swallow our sadness, disappointment and frustration triggered by others.
Such behavior is never healthy. Within Gestalt therapy, however, the healthiest control is for a person to know exactly how to respond at any given moment. A self-control in which we know how to control our anger to make us free from anger, or how to process a disappointment in an intelligent and constructive way.
9. "Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is akin to expecting a bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian."
The person whose ultimate responsibility it is to care for you, respect you, and value you for who you are is not to be found in the outside world. It's not your workmates, nor society, nor your family. The truth is that you yourself are that person who should love yourself and above all take care of yourself. Not accepting this fact leads to endless suffering. Quotes like these from Fritz Perls really get us thinking.
10. "My friend, don't be a perfectionist. Perfectionism is a curse."
Perfectionism is not good for our emotional health. It has a lot to do with that need for extremely strict self-control that we just talked about, which sometimes results in us having too high expectations of ourselves.
11. "It is very strange that people can speak and listen, but very few listen without speaking."
All psychotherapists who practice Gestalt therapy are looking for something fundamental during therapy: above all, they want to bring to light all the emotional processes that we humans hide under our behaviors, habits, fears and distorted views.
Fritz Perls once said, "Listening to yourself, communicating and being listened to silently is a dynamic that we have lost in our society. We have lost the ability to listen to ourselves and to others." Now, in order for the patient's distorted mind to calm down and focus, the therapist first invites them to listen to themselves and become aware of what they are feeling in the present moment. Then, knowing that the therapist is by his side and listening attentively, he can express his feelings aloud.
12. "Fear is a feeling that takes our breath away."
Life triggers in us agonizing uncertainty, anxiety and fears, because we fear the future, because our feelings are over our heads, we do not understand their scope and allow them to overtake us so strongly that they take our breath away.
If we want to move forward without weight, limitations and fears, Gestalt therapy invites us first of all to put ourselves in a position to understand our feelings. Knowing what is currently happening to us always helps to calm our anxiety.
13. "Be yourself, express yourself completely freely and without fears. In the end, the one who really loves you won't mind what you say or do."
Unconditional acceptance and honesty with oneself are the two most important pillars of Gestalt therapy. Those who do not accept what we are or express do not value us and do not fit our nature.
14. "Do not think so much, but feel."
"Everything counts if it gives you a feeling." This quote from Fritz Perls already gives us an idea of something important about the approach that this therapist of humanistic-existentialist psychology followed. Feelings make us alive, which is why we should allow ourselves to feel much more without worrying about whether these emotions that come over us are positive or negative. Allowing them to come over us is also a way of understanding them.
"Pain is there to wake us up. We must endure pain. It is like a radius. They feel its strength when they experience pain. Everything depends on how we deal with it."
15. "We must learn to tolerate the truth, even if it hurts our pride."
Truth is part of "consciousness," that so complex skill through which we learn to make things clear to foster an awakening within ourselves, through which we turn the explicit into something implicit, or through which we can accept a fact even if it hurts. Because thanks to it, we can more easily look forward and favor our growth and well-being.
16. "Nothing has meaning without its context. Meaning alone does not exist."
Meaning does not exist simply as a special quantity, but is related to something that gives it meaning. We humans need to understand that no one feels fear, anger or joy just like that. Our feelings are always part of a context and a particular situation.
17. "The fact that we realize only a very small percentage of our total potential is due to the fact that we are not prepared to accept ourselves."
Fritz Perls saw human potential and its development as the most important elements of Gestalt therapy.
18. "We do not allow ourselves – or we are not allowed – to be ourselves fully."
This is another quote from Fritz Perls that sums up his legacy excellently. Accepting ourselves is undoubtedly the first step towards our well-being. Instead of blaming the people around us for being unwell, we should be able to open our eyes and take responsibility for who we are and what we want.
19. "If someone does not want to remember his dreams, he achieves only to deny his own existence."
Our hopes, goals and aspirations are part of our being. To resist them is to take apart this whole, this radiant unity of our being that we cannot negate or leave behind us.
20. "A change is a chance."
Few things frighten us as much as changes, uncertainties and twists in our destiny. We should be able to flow and allow ourselves to progress on our paths by seizing opportunities to make improvements.
"A perfect human being must have a good orientation and also the ability to act."
21. "Everyone has the responsibility to live their life the way they want to live it."
Fritz Perls showed us a very practical view of humanism, where each individual has the responsibility about living his life according to his own ideas.
22. "We cannot flee from the worries and discomfort of the present."
In order to accept ourselves, we must first learn to deal with the concerns that cause us headaches in the present, in the here and now, which is what Gestalt therapy focuses on.
23. "The past besieges our present."
This is also one of the interesting quotes from Fritz Perls. The past, the most important dimension in psychoanalysis, loses its impact in Gestalt therapy to bring us to the present, where everything happens and we have the best chance to find solutions, heal ourselves and grow.
24. "We can best improve our lives by setting priorities."
This is another aspect we should pay attention to every day: our priorities. Knowing what's important, what we need, and figuring out what we can't put off is crucial to our well-being.
25. "Solitude is really a place to connect with the feeling of being human."
Those who are afraid of loneliness are afraid of getting in touch with themselves, with their being, needs and thoughts. Few things make us such strong people as seeking that very own privacy now and then to connect with our inner selves.
26. "Getting in touch with one's emotions and learning to embrace them is healing."
In Gestalt therapy, all of our emotions have an appropriate purpose, so acknowledging and understanding them is critical in the therapeutic process.
27. "Distractions are also part of the journey of life."
For Fritz Perls, distraction did not mean losing our attention. In essence, it is something as basic as allowing ourselves to feel, rest, flow, be driven by the peace, leisure, and peaceful stimuli that promote our well-being.
"To try is to lie. ,I will try' is to say that one has no intention of actually doing it. If we are really thinking about doing something, we should say: 'I will do it' and if not, 'I will not do it'. We need to speak plainly in order to think and act clearly."
28. "There is great potential in everyone, but to see it, you need talent."
There is great potential in each of us, but, as we've mentioned elsewhere, we can't always see it and fully realize it. For Fritz Perls, true talent therefore also consists in being able to awaken these dormant abilities.
29. "Fear of death means fear of life."
Living with fear results in not living our lives to the fullest. This is exactly what Gestalt therapy aims to do: It is its goal that we become happy in the way we want to be happy.
30. "Allow the best plan for you to come from within yourself."
Only we and no one else has the responsibility to create a plan for our life. We can do this by becoming aware of our ideals, dreams and values. For from these beautiful roots undoubtedly grow the most beautiful flowers, which we must take care of and attend to daily.
As we have seen, all these quotes from Fritz Perls are excerpts from an awake and sensitive mind. He is a key figure in the history of psychology who gave us therapeutic tools to favor personal growth. It's up to us to follow these principles of his legacy, which are aligned with our needs, to let that legacy become part of us and steer our path toward happiness.