My Love Affair with Potential
As most of you know, I returned from leading a retreat in Ecuador last month and like all of the people that joined me on retreat, my pot got stirred and clarity about a particular pattern came in. Thought I’d share a little of my pot with you.
I’m going to be quite candid. I can fall in love easily. Really easily.
With lots of things – people, ideas, experiences, puppies, the smell of horse poop (horse lovers you know what I’m talking about), Tesla coils and cars.
It can come on strong and sudden, and can even turn into a high-jacking of sorts. The ‘feel goods’ feel so good, it shuts off other pieces of data coming in about said object of love, that are put in a ‘lower priority’ bin to be reviewed at some time in the distant future, if/when needed. Right alongside the other boring and mundane aspects of life that need to be reviewed at some point like when my tires need to be rotated next or if I balanced my checking account lately.
The data I’m referring to is how my body is responding to the situation/experience beyond the feel goods. Like feeling a knot in my stomach while saying ‘yes’ at the same time. Or listening to my mind tell me what a good deal it is that Frontier just announced a $19 fare to Cozumel and I should act on it when in reality, I can’t stand flying on Frontier.
Those are incongruent experiences and if I’m not paying attention to the whole story, I miss some really important parts.
Reminds me of a guy I dated in college.
I’d known him for years before we started dating – we actually met playing a mean game of beach volleyball in Jamaica. There had always been a little thing there. Like a radio station that you need to tweak the dial just a bit to find, but when you land on it, it comes in clearly.
He was handsome, had good taste in music and clothes, grew a bonsai tree and bartended at my favorite dive bar which really helped my college budget (high standards, huh?). We had one of those energetic connections that was more felt than spoken.
In actuality it was a big mind fuck. Because in my reality, I kept expecting him to show up as the person I could see and feel beyond the veneer of being cool and slightly aloof. The person that was tender, deep and loving. But that person only came out once in a while – like the Loch Ness monster. It felt like I was in relationship with two different people – the deep one and the aloof one.
Which (in hindsight) was the perfect mirror for me as I was acting from the story in my mind (there’s a connection there, seems like something should sync up, I was nursing a recent heartbreak that I fed beer on a regular basis, he worked at a bar . . . oh the perfection!) while my heart and gut felt like they were being dragged along for the ride.
Can you relate?
Another case where expectations were different than reality (you can read more about that in my last blog).
I stayed in that relationship long beyond its expiration date because I kept waiting for him to have the epiphany that he wasn’t the aloof guy. And I would help him see that by staying and nurturing it along.
What I’m pointing to here is that I was in relationship with his potential.
Which means I was in denial of reality, and my own inner misalignment.
What I’ve discovered through some of the most painful experiences of my life, is that we can’t be in habitual relationship with potential without being asleep to something in ourselves.
Usually it’s that we’re going too fast and aren’t paying attention to our body’s indicators. Or we want something REALLY badly - the deal to close, the person to say ‘yes’, our kids to be agreeable, or to be out of pain, and we’re not paying attention to our own navigation system.
This is a curse for those of us that are sensitive and not easily thrown off by facades. We can fall in love with the potential of the other person, or situation and convince ourselves that the potential will come to fruition. It’s tricky. Because some of us deal in human potential - our job is to see the potential in others and hold space for them to step into it.
But we’re cheating ourselves and the other person because it could very well be that that other person isn’t aware of the façade, doesn’t want to change anything about how they’re showing up, or that maybe we got it wrong altogether and are just seeing what we want to see.
And the BIG unconscious find – what if we got into the relationship BECAUSE OF the façade? What if it ensured that WE wouldn’t actually have to go deeper because courting incongruency keeps things at the level of confusion, dissatisfaction and waiting for something to change.
There’s a way that we can keep convincing ourselves that something will change and that we can see the ‘light’ in the other. But sometimes that just isn’t true. Especially if you notice this is a pattern you have of being in relationship or situations where you’re holding out hope for something to change. Or you find that you’re often in a spot where the other is unwilling to ‘go there’.
The way to find the truth of the matter is to get present with yourself - to What Is - the present reality. Put aside the story in your mind (rationalizations, justifications, yeah but’s) and feel what your body is telling you. Is it tense? Is there emotion? Does it feel open and relaxed, are you leaning in? Bracing? All of these cues tell you something about the whole story of what’s happening and it’s your job to learn the language of your body, and trust what you’re getting.
Here are some questions to help guide you in the process of discerning your relationship to potential:
Identify where you’re in love with potential in your life.
Can you discern between your mind’s story and body’s sensations of the potential?
Are you waiting for something? Is your waiting part of what allows the relationship/situation to stay as is?
Does the hope of future change keep you asleep to what is present now?
What is present now when you really tune in?
If your present reality never changed, would you be okay to stay in it?
What might you be needing from the person/situation that you’re not getting?
What would it be like to ask for it? What if you’ve asked for it and the answer is no?
I encourage you to get real with yourself about where you are ‘courting potential’ because the energy you are putting into that courtship may turn out to be the best, aligned bet of your life, or it may be where you’re hiding out in the uncomfortably comfortable space of the known, on the fence, spending your lifeforce energy on a balancing act. Ask your body for the truth - it never lies.
Courting potential can be like eating a hollow, chocolate Easter bunny.
You don’t have much to sink your teeth into.