Challenge Yourself, Realise your dreams, Topic Of The Week

Potential For Personal Growth

Topic Of The Week: Potential

An onion seed won’t turn into a rose, a puppy will grow up to be a dog, and I can’t become you.

Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. Erich Fromm

What contributes to “potential”?

Everything around us has its special properties, characteristics, and individuality. All living organisms, including us, have genetic factors, the programs necessary for survival and reproduction, which set the stage for further development of the individual and the species. As significant as they are, they are only a tiny part of the potential.

open hand holding potato seedling
caring for the potential - Photo by Scott Bauer.

Under certain conditions a seed germinates, the seedling grows, the mature plant develops flowers and seeds in turn. The sum of all these factors creates the potential for growth (the examples for each are not exhaustive, by the way).

  • “Physical” interaction with environment: location, light, water, nourishment, metabolism, compost
  • “Social” interaction: with other plants (harmonic, repelling, symbiotic), with animals (fertilisation, transport)
  • “Meta-physical” interaction: sensitivity to emotions and vibrations

Like it or not, the human potential is essentially determined by the same factors.

  • Genetics: set the stage for physical development, instinct, behaviour, emotions, mental processes
  • “Physical” interaction with environment: nourishment, location, education, waste
  • Social interaction: culture, family, friends, peers, authorities
  • “Meta-physical” interactions: sensitivity to emotions and vibrations

Human Mind

Man may be defined as the animal that can say “I,” that can be aware of himself as a separate entity. Erich Fromm

There is one enormous difference however between us humans and everything else: We’ve got a mind, not just “a” mind, but a very special one which lets us make conscious choices and think about them.factors contributing to potential

Self-consciousness leads to self-reflection, and our free will gives us the ability to choose. We are not irrevocably bound to our instincts or the behaviour of our ancestors – nor those of our peers or neighbours. We can react flexibly because choice plus creativity urge us to find new ways to solve old as well as new problems, to do things different, to grow consciously.

We humans don’t have to put up with what we’ve got, it’s just our challenge, it’s there so we may use it and build on it to advance ourselves. Unfortunately we identify ourselves with our mind and with the Self we can point at: “That’s me”.

Me-Self and I-Self

We have become so accustomed to our Me-Self, and to what we can do with our mind and free will, that we tend to believe we’ve got it for control and domination. We want to make the world adapt to us; we have done so successfully again and again, and now we assume that’s how it should be. If it’s not, we blame others and/or despair.

Used to evaluating and comparing ourselves with others (or who we suppose they are), we tend to look for potential and dreams in the physical world,  the one which is obvious to our five standard senses. Our neighbour’s new car, the celebrities in glossy magazines and on TV are real, aren’t they?

Busy as we are with comparing, wishing, thinking and doing, we hear only occasionally a tiny voice coming through all this noise and buzz. We perceive it as intuition (our inner teacher), as inspiration (our own genie-genius), as hunches, warnings or reminders (our guide).

This voice belongs to our I-Self, our True Self, which tries to get us back on track. Not limited by body and time, it is knowledgeable and powerful, and it is connected with all the other I-Selves, the Transcendental Network, teaming up with others as necessary.

I-Self is the one with the agenda, our agenda, and it keeps asking Me-Self to coöperate. When Me-Self does align with I-Self’s requests, we are rewarded with joy and sometimes unexplainable and “miraculous” success. At other times we can try as hard as we want, but even if we succeed after lots of effort, satisfaction may not last long.

Take It Easy – Let Your I-Self Help

So what can you do to let your I-Self help you to realise your potential, to become who only you can be?

1. Calm the noise which Me-Self’s mind makes and “listen” to what I-Self has to say. “Listening” to I-Self is not like listening or waiting for a sound, it’s more like floating on gentle waves with your mind open for a passing breeze.

Does this seem too abstract to you, or not feasible among all those activities and obligations your life seems to consist of? Here are three exercises for you to test and practice – simplest first:

  • Find a safe time of day when you are least disturbed by others, if possible at a place where you feel comfortable. For five minutes, let go of all your obligations and worries. These minutes are yours, and yours only. Open your mind to your potential.
  • Become aware of when you say “I am…” or “I’m not…”, “I like…” or “I don’t like”, and cut down on these preconceptions and evaluations. (see also Test Your Balance)
  • Empty your mind from clutter through meditation. Find which of the many meditation techniques suits you best.

2. I-Self has been communicating with Me-Self all your life. Look back, from “way back” until today. What were and are your life’s main themes?

  • What matters to you?
  • What do you enjoy?
  • What comes easy to you?
  • What are you good at that you also like doing?
  • What do you keep coming back to?

Challenge Yourself

  • Copy the last five questions to a piece of paper to carry with you. Have a look at them whenever you have a couple of minutes to spare. Write down what your memory comes up with – eventually you will see patterns forming.
  • Get started with listening to your I-Self: Find a safe time and  place.

Enjoy the tour 🙂


Image sources:

  1. Agricultural Research Service USDA
  2. (C) 2011 enermazing/Maria Hoffmeister

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4 thoughts on “Potential For Personal Growth”

  1. I love the five questions and the insights you share on personal growth. Self -reflection and meditation are two excellent ways to process our stuff and refocus on what matters. 🙂

  2. Great post, Maria! Thank you so much for bringing me to my I-Self while I was reading your insightful post. I find that as I am getting older, I am naturally gravitating towards my I-Self – trying to focus on what I enjoy doing and what matters to me rather than comparing myself to others. I’m not quite there yet, but when I catch myself out of ‘alignment’, I try to bring my ‘I’ back. So the more I read about it, the more it helps. Thanks again for the reminder. Lesh

    1. “…to focus on what I enjoy doing and what matters to me rather than comparing myself to others” – Maybe that’s one of the benefits 🙂 of aging: seeing things in context, from a different point of view. I agree with you, little reminders now and then are very helpful for keeping us on track – and humble 😉
      Thank you for visiting!

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