When we talk about possibilities or potential, we tend to fall into familiar patterns of thought: that people are either static or mutable, that situations are “evolving” or “hopeless”, or some other kind of black-and-white thinking. We allow our egos to get wrapped-up in the discussion and either worry endlessly about could-have, would-have, should-have, or categorically dismiss or denounce the entire exercise as something below our notice or ability.
When we talk openly and in complete vulnerability about how we see not only ourselves, but our potential, we tend to side with either the “limited” or “limitless” schools of thought.
The illusion of limitation is present wherever we allow our ego to come into direct conflict with reality and where expectation colors that conflict. When we let go of the illusion, of expectation, we allow things to exist and to happen as they are. We release people from unrealistic expectations of performance, morality, and need. When we turn this inward, we also release the same from ourselves, which I would argue is likely the most important release of all. When we become unfettered from the bondage of egoism and self-recrimination, we can finally see more things for what they are; often with more potential than we were able to see before.
Humanity has the potential to be truly free, wise, and compassionate. We all have the potential to be better than the day before. We have the ability to be compassionate for everyone, including ourselves. We can change, as can our circumstances, if we give ourselves to the effort and hold our egos in check.
Our egos arguably want the best for us, but it’s more often a cruel master; punishing us inwardly when we fail, giving false confidence and praise when we “succeed”. Without consciously considering potential and compassionately embracing the effort, it ignores possibility. That, I would argue, is the most dangerous position to be in.
A life where possibility is suffocated beneath fear is less a life than mere subsistence. Never settle, but never let your ego run you. You deserve better. We deserve better.