I was talking with someone who was reflecting on her adult son and how she felt that he hadn’t lived up to his ‘potential’….and he was wasting his life and was ‘lazy’. Her thoughts didn’t seem mean-spirited and in fact she expressed a desire for him to be able to better take care of himself. I have found myself in a few conversations about the nature of living up to ones ‘potential’. Whew….talk about an amazingly subjective slippery slope. Many of these conversations have been one person reflecting on another person they care about and their frustration over their ‘wasted’ potential and all the ways they could stop wasting it. (and I am sure each of us is also familiar with how this same thinking can be put towards ourselves with thoughts/feelings of wasted potential).
It seems curious to me how when we care about someone and have a sense they are not living their ‘full potential’……. that we then choose to be frustrated with them? Why are we quick to ‘blame’ people for our own perceptions of their ‘wasted potential’….especially if it isn’t ‘hurting’ anyone else? It’s interesting that I don’t seem to hear people say, ‘that leaf falling from the tree is wasting its potential’ or ‘that wind is sure lazy’. But as humans here we go with our sharp minds to knock ourselves and others down when we perceive (even if it is based on intelligence tests or past achievements) they could ‘do better’ and live up to their ‘potential’.
It seems to me that energy without the subjective opinion we impose on it is simply …..’energy’. And I believe we ‘live up to our potential’ within the abilities of our personal environments. I thought of the example of a car. Let’s say you have a sporty car with a beefed up engine….one that has incredible power and speed potential. If someone placed a ‘governor’ on the accelerator pedal…..no matter how hard you tried, the ‘potential’ speed of that car will not be reached. When there are limitations or ‘governors’ placed on something or someone, they live within those limitations until or if those limitations might change. Another example would be water pressure in your house. The water pressure might have a certain potential but can be limited by the environment of the pipes, sediment, other systems functioning in the house etc……you get the idea?
We are like the car and the house in the sense that we are a unique system of ‘energy’ and design….and we are affected and ‘limited’ by our environment or certain ‘governors’ that have been put in place over time. Some we might be aware of and others not at all. The reasons for how we developed these limiters is unique and varied for each of us……but often they came into being for reasons that seemed good at the time. One possibility is that our systems of self protection or conditioning installed these ‘limiters’ as a safety device of sorts….which was probably helpful at the time.
So how do we come to know, understand and respect the limiters within our own design and conditioning? How do we invest in our awareness of these limiters and our choice to perhaps change them over time? How can our expanded personal awareness create more empathy for ourselves and other people? How can we shift the standard way of thinking to not ‘blame’ (or be frustrated etc) with those we ‘perceive’ as not living up to their ‘potential’? How can we be kind all the more as we realize how each of us has our unique set of limitations and is living exactly within our current ‘potential’? And how can we do this while still having our opinions and wanting ‘the best’ for someone and ourselves……realizing that all of this can co-exist with a little effort of gentle awareness?
All of these questions…….each of us with our unique response to it all. What is possible if we meet life…even things we accept as ‘that’s just the way it is’ or as ‘givens’…..with curiosity? Hmmmmm……..
I will leave you with one definition of ‘energy potential’:
The potential energy is a function of the state a system is in, and is defined relative to that for a particular state. This reference state is not always a real state, it may also be a limit. Any arbitrary reference state could be used, therefore it can be chosen based on convenience. Typically the potential energy of a system depends on the relative positions of its components only, so the reference state can also be expressed in terms of relative positions.
thanks for reading….Jacq.