There is a
word I have heard my entire life. The word is potential. I was always told I
have so much potential.
You have so much potential . . .
You can be anything you want to be . . .
You can do anything you want to do . . .
I always knew what the word meant. Yet, at the same time, especially in my younger years, I had no idea what it meant to have potential. To me, I just assumed this meant I was always missing my mark.
To have potential, to have the ability, to be able to perform but yet, not executing up to my ability.
I suppose my most frequent interpretation was, “You’re not trying hard enough,” or “You’re not applying yourself,” or also, “What the hell is wrong with you? You’re not stupid, are you?”
I am not sure why certain things come easy to some and difficult to others. I am not sure whether charisma is an assumed connection to intelligence or if personality is entwined with education.
I was never sure why I was the way I was. I was also never sure why i couldn’t be more like other people. Then again, at the time, I never knew that my perception of others is limited and that the others I wished I could emulate had the same struggles as me. See, to me, I always thought I was painfully alone, unlike, and dissimilar.
I know what the word knowledge means and what it means to be knowledgeable. I also know that knowing something doesn’t mean anything without the wisdom and understanding of how to apply our knowledge.
I remember the saying, “I think, therefore I am.”
The hardest thing to change is our thinking and our beliefs. Our habits go hand in hand with this and so does out behavior. We act in reaction. We respond to what we believe and what we think.
Going back to the idea of potential, I have heard this word throughout my life, which to me, hearing that I had potential was an insult.
This is not to say that an insult was intended; however, I think, therefore I am, which means I am what I think I am. Therefore, being told I have the potential to “Be” something always led me to an interpretation that I was failure, that I was nothing, that I was a letdown or, “I was not reaching my best,” because I was simply incapable and unable to execute and perform.
You could be anything you want to be.
You’re so smart.
You can do anything you want to do. All you have to do is try
The word potential means possible more than actual. This means capable of being, but yet, this also means to have ability that may not have been developed.
I always hated when people told me I had so much potential. I hated the facial expressions when people said this to me. I hated this from parents to teachers to counselors. Employers have told me that I had potential, which is why I was hired; however, I was also fired a few times because I failed to reach my expected potential.
Although this expression was an attempt to be supportive; my interpretation was hurtful. I felt shame.
Remember, when it comes to personal discomfort; all roads lead to rejection. I believe this, wholeheartedly, and in my case, I can say this was absolutely true. I believed I was a letdown.
Remember: we think, therefore we are.
I thought this was me. I also thought this was the best i could ever be. Therefore, how is it possible for me to be any better when I already believed that I couldn’t be anything better than I already was?
I am in the process of developing a program that is designed to help parents, siblings, loved ones and even co-workers alike to dismantle the attitudes and disarm the arguments that we face in our interpersonal relationships.
I was not bad or stupid or diseased. I was not my depression. I was not my learning disability. I was none of these things, but yet, in my eyes, I was all of these things.
To suggest my potential was more like a suggestion that simple things are impossible to me, furthering me away from normal, and pushing me closer to shame, and furthering me from confidence and placing me closer to the ideas of my sad inability.
I thought, therefore I was; therefore, I was uncomfortable. Therefore, I wanted to feel better.
I wanted gratification; therefore, I had to find a way to appease myself. I had no patience or tolerance for delayed gratification. I wanted an immediate fix. I wanted gratification because I believe poorly about myself. And of all things, all the mind wants is to feel good.
In order to change this mindset, literally, someone would have had to change my belief system. I would need proof that this could be so. I would need absolute proof that was indisputable to me. Else, my beliefs would never change.
How can I be better when I don’t believe I have the ability to be better than I am? Also, how could I improve when I believed I was a constant letdown because as it was clearly and frequently stated to me, I was not reaching my potential?
Do I ever say this to anyone?
No. I don’t.
Instead, I look to challenge the assumptions of those who think, feel, or believe that they simply will not and cannot improve.
In a section of my up and coming program “Dismantling the Attitudes,” we will be discussing the difference between thought and feeling. Although related, the two are not the same. A thought is not a feeling. And feelings are not thoughts. This needs to be understood. We will also discuss the difference between feeling and emotion because again, there is a difference.
Understanding thought, feelings, and emotion helps us communicate. This also helps us honor the culture competence, which is the acceptance of and the ability to understand and communicate across all cultures of older, younger, similar or different.
Put simply, relate. Don’t dictate.
Support, don’t inform. Encourage and empower through active and empathetic listening; understand rather than being clearly understood.
I never believed was I was understood. This caused me to think I was and would always be misunderstood. I never thought I was capable; therefore, when I was told I have so much potential, although this was not meant to put me down—I never believed or knew what my potential was; therefore, how could I live up to something I had no understanding of?
Connotation: this is the associated meaning or secondary meaning of a word.
Denotation: this is the explicit and direct meaning of a word.
I understood what the actual definition of potential was. However, my secondary or associated meaning was the opposite of the original intention.
The hardest things to change are thinking, beliefs, and behaviors. Therefore we, in order to form a more perfect union between us and our loved ones; we need to promote a connective line of communication because all words have meaning.
However, not every word has the same connotation. Not everyone thinks the same way. Not everyone feels the same way. Although emotion is innate and natural, our response and experiences are different.
I have learned to use these tools in motivational interviews. I have also learned to use these tools in my life; however, there are times when miscommunication is inevitable.
This does not mean war. This does not mean that interpretation is fact or that our perception is true. This just means we have different connotations and secondary meanings behind the words we used in our conversations.
This just means we have the chance to mutually work on our competence and understanding because this is what people that love and support each other do.
I often write to you about me pulling off my trick. Well, this program is part of it. can’t wait to share this with you!