The Secret Pain of “Potential”
I want you to do something radical with me.
For some of you, this won’t be radical at all, and for some of you, it might be very radical. But let’s all do this together anyway, no matter which end of the spectrum you’re on, okay?
I want you to close your eyes for a moment, get very quiet inside – for just a minute, and picture a world in which the word “potential” does not even exist. There is also no other word in the english language that means anything close to that, in this world we are imagining (yes, I see you tricky minds going there) and there is no concept of “your full potential”, whatsoever.
When you think that you have a potential to live up to, and you’re not there yet, how do you feel?
Stressed? Worried? Fearful that you won’t get there? Rushed? Impatient? Doubtful? Not present? Disconnected?
So… with that in mind, close your eyes, and DROP potential.
(seriously, do it, stay as long as you want, I’ll meet you down at the next line when you get back)
Great, you’re back! So tell me…
How did that feel inside of you?
Was there an internal shift? Were you too afraid to even try to drop it? Were you not able to imagine a world without it? Were you too terrified that nothing would ever get done if you were not trying to fulfill your potential?
If you weren’t able to imagine it - keep trying. Use your imagination and pretend that there is simply NO SUCH THING as “potential”. If you can use your imagination to see your loved one crashed on the side of the road when they’re half an hour late and haven’t called, you can use your imagination for this too. We’re always imagining things, we just don’t always know it!
Here’s what I find when I imagine a world in which “potential” does not exist for me: Peace
I’m at ease. I’m lighter. An underlying sense of pressure and stress seems to evaporate. A natural lightness emerges. I feel more connected, more centered, more CLEAR. I feel at home. At home in my body, at home in my world.
The moment in which I drop “potential” becomes a moment in which everything is okay. Nothing needs to change, there’s nothing I need to live up to, or become, and in that, I am truly free. Without a “potential” to live up to, I feel an incredible sense of belonging and a oneness with all of life. I don’t feel that anything is “missing” somehow, or that there’s someplace else that I need to “be”. I don’t feel that anyone or anything is standing in my way (including myself), because I’m not trying to get anywhere, and therefore treating my life as an object I need to get around.
And with that, I am free to BE the “potential” that I AM.
Not in the future, but NOW.
We think we need to live up to our potential because then we’ll truly be happy and at peace, but the truth is, all that thought does is keep you on the run. On the run from the present, on the run from yourself, which is the only place where peace or happiness can ever be found.
The future is not happening yet, it’s just a thought in our minds.
And so we abandon ourselves in the name of a “potential” we have not yet realized, and we leave ourselves alone, right here and now.
I have seen some incredible things in this world without ‘potential’. I have seen that the concept of “living up to my potential” is nothing more than a source of constant stress that paradoxically keeps me from actually living up to my potential in every moment.
That may seem confusing and contradictory, but here’s the big secret:
Our “highest potential” doesn’t require our THOUGHTS about it. It should come with instructions that say,
“Caution: no MIND required”
When we are centered in ourselves, anchored in the divine presence of the love that we ARE, there is no need to strive, strain, or “live up to” any potential. Because you ARE that potential already, unfolding like a flower in the warm glow of infinite intelligence.
“But wait, what about my dreams?!” you say, “If I’m just happy with everything as it is in this moment, how can things ever change, how will I get to where I desire to go? If I don’t worry about living up to my full potential, I will never do anything again!”
And to this, I have an answer… but it requires us to delve into our collective human belief that fear, and pain and stress are good ‘motivators’. And that we NEED to hang onto stress, striving and fear in order to affect change in our lives or in the world. When you see this, you see that we are actually believing that we can create peace from our place of pain and conflict.
As if we can use fear and stress to create peace. It’s absurd!!
But this is what we have come to believe. This is why wars are fought and homes are ripped apart, and we abuse our own bodies and our own lives – we believe we can use emptiness to create fullness, we believe we can use anything-less-than-peace, to create peace. We believe we can use fear to motivate others, or motivate ourselves to change, and come into harmony. How ridiculous!
What you begin with is what you end up with. Sure you might affect a temporary change based out of fear and conflict and dis-satisfaction with yourself, but you will always end up right where you started, because the original rift will still be there, just waiting to make a comeback.
Peace is the ONLY thing that can create peace. And Love is the only thing that can create love. Violence creates more violence. Fear creates more fear. Pain creates more pain. Confusion creates more confusion. Stress and striving, create more stress and striving. TRUE CHANGE in yourself, or in the world, begins with this realization.
Your dreams, your hopes & desires, do not require your stress and striving. You cannot turn stress and striving into peace and happiness anymore than you can turn apples into orange juice.
And what’s more, your dreams and desires do not require your ideas about your “potential”. They have a potential all their own, a power that can only be unleashed through your emphatic surrender to Life.
When you drop your expectations of yourself, you are fulfilled, peaceful, and happy NOW (as we saw in our world without “potential”) … So what kind of life do you think is going to be created out of that place of fulfillment and happiness??
One with more, and more fulfillment and happiness, that’s what kind! That lightness and ease that emerges in the absence of the striving allows the heart to do what it loves, and to be that much more wholly empowered by the presence of Life itself.
So you see, our ” highest potential” is a very tricky disguise that our ego puts-on in order to keep us from the awareness that we ARE perfection… now… becoming.
Life is constantly changing, with or without our approval. Our bodies and our world are constantly changing, with or without our approval. And we think it needs our help! We try to control things, and we can’t, so we become paralyzed.
When all the while, joy and freedom and fulfillment and happiness is right here within you, just waiting to be seen. Just waiting to be realized. Just waiting to hold your hand and walk you through this life with surprises and wonderments that you never could have imagined in a million years from your limited human perspective.
So I am here, with Life, petitioning for your trust.
Asking what you might let go of, in the name of Love.
In the name of this infinite, unnameable intelligence that you’re made of.
This same love and intelligence that made your child, and your family, and your friends, your partner, your dog, and your cat. The same sea of loving that created the ocean, the sun, the moon, the trees, the flowers, the birds and the animals. The intricate perfection of nature itself — and all of this… without our help!
Our sweet minds, are so terribly arrogant.
Thinking they know what is best, at all times. You just have to laugh at it.
When you really and truly see the reality of this, you just have to laugh out loud.
And so my friends,
IT IS TIME.
It is time for a radical surrender to Life.
Do not fear that your letting go will mean chaos.
Holding on is chaos.
Letting go is a fusion with the Truth.
The ultimate, absolute, Truth.
Your truth. My truth. THE Truth.
Miracles are revealed in this merging.
In this, I trust.