LIVE YOUR POTENTIAL
“Each difficult moment has the potential to open my eyes and open my heart” ~ Myla Kabat-Zinn
Whenever I consider what to write for my posts I often reflect on what I have experienced in the last six months of my own life. What were my challenges? What were the obstacles? And where did I find solace?
A little while back I was lecturing in Brazil, and before embarking on the trip I paid a quick visit to my dentist, what else in new? Making a little small talk, he asked why I was going and I told him that I had a lecture that I’d be giving. He asked what the lecture was about and I said it’s on living your potential. He asked, “Your potential what?” I responded “Your potential as a human being.” But what an interesting question, and that’s when it dawned on me – for most of us in life, we don’t think of life in those terms.
We have a plan, and usually it centers on career. It’s around setting goals for relationships, for a vacation, even for retirement. We become fixated and preoccupied with what others think about us, and how we’re going to attain these things that we think are making us happy in life – even though they don’t – not in the long-term anyway. How much time do we really give to developing the person we’re supposed to become – to evolve and grow into? How much thought goes into literally filling your own shoes?
Kabbalah teaches that we all have a purpose in this world. Everybody has their own unique purpose, their own unique gift that they can offer. The real work is finding it. Some of you are probably thinking: Okay, that makes sense, great, but how do I really FIND my purpose? How do I KNOW why I’m here?
When I say “purpose”, I don’t mean success. Very often we find a lot of value in what it is we do, which enables one to have a successful career. But the purpose I’m talking about is the purpose of the soul. It’s the sense of self. We live in a world where we are more often than not defined mostly by what we do, right? So for those of us who haven’t found what it is we’re supposed to do, we wait until we find that job or correct path in order to find the person we’re supposed to be. That’s the mistake.
In my own life, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Like many, I was searching. At 17, I could not reconcile the idea that what I saw around me was all there was to life – my reason for being here eluded me. I knew there had to be more, because if this was all there was, I was NOT INTERESTED. I didn’t have the consciousness then, but what I did know was what I didn’t want to be and what I didn’t want to do. I eliminated 50% out of 100, and I knew this is not what I want, and yet in knowing that I can start edging my way towards where I do want to be. In essence, I was half way there.
I knew that I wanted to inspire people, or at least try to. I considered studying psychology (I didn’t know the vehicle in which I wanted to share), but I knew that I wanted to help others… and here we are today.
Very often, the first place to start is to decide who it is you DON’T want to be, and then the next step, really, is to have guidance.
Guidance…? Listening. There is a calling for each and every one of us. Our job in this world is to become aware, to become awakened, and answer the call. We need to learn to listen to ourselves to find our potential.
Here is a step to help reveal your potential:
Tikkun (Go against your nature):
Tikkun means correction, everybody has one, and it’s very important to find out what yours is. So for some it may be patience. For others it may be anger, laziness, and confrontation. Everybody has a tikkun.
Here’s an example of tikkun: a mother who really enjoys taking care of her family. She enjoys cooking for them, sharing with them- her husband, her children. It brings her much happiness. But at the end of the day she feels unfulfilled, taken advantage of, and underappreciated, because they walk all over her. At times she feels as if she gives too much, but she doesn’t want to stop because she enjoys giving it. For somebody like this, her real tikkun would be confrontation.
What does she need to do? She can still share. She can still give. She can still feed and nurture her family in a way that brings her joy. But if, at the end of the day, she’s feeling miserable and down about herself, and she wants to say something, but holds herself back because she’s afraid to confront them, then that’s absolutely what she must do. That’s the one step – Tikkun – going against your nature
The Rav reiterates time and time again that we are supposed to leave this world different from how we entered it. In order to truly live by this idea, we have to allow ourselves to go through some kind of process of change and transformation. Life is about constant change and constant growth.
No matter what spiritual path you are on, Kabbalah, or another spiritual practice, when you first begin, you feel connected. It feels good. It’s comfortable. You meet like-minded people who share similar views. Everything kind of makes sense. It comes together. And then what happens? Challenges inevitably arise. Things get difficult, and what’s the first thing we say? Well, THAT’S not what I signed up for. It’s supposed to be smooth sailing now that I am living in a spiritual way. What’s happened?
We must do that which is difficult and embrace these difficulties with the understanding, and ultimately excitement that these are true opportunities for growth and change. To remain in a place of complacency is a huge missed opportunity. The option of staying in that place of comfort is so much more uncomfortable in the long run, because you are not allowing your soul to do what it’s supposed to do – transform.
- What do you find to be a constant challenge in your life? Think in terms of a common theme that presents itself to you.
- When it comes up how do you react to it? Do you become frustrated, annoyed, upset?
- What do you think it is trying to show you? What are you missing?