Missed Opportunities
(Written in the early morning alongside a pond in Northern California on the Sonoma coast)

Linus, famous thumbsucker of Peanuts’ fame, once said, “There is no heavier burden then one’s true potential.”

I have addressed the issue of being stuck many times in this forum and am constantly confronted by individuals who are stuck in their situations and lives. Even when presented with the opportunity to move away from their unhappiness and misery, many people will choose to remain firm in their conviction to be unhappy and living a less than full life.

As Linus suggests there is a burden attached to recognizing our potential. When we (finally) realize who we really are, what we are really supposed to be doing, where we are supposed to be, and all of our gifts, talents and possibilities it tends to create tension and anxiety. We become stressed and uncertain about ourselves when we are aware of our potential because we know, at that time, that something must be done. We realize that we must move away from where we are and begin to really live and to really experience life. This is upsetting to us because we have become so used to the chaos and numbness of our lives. Why rock the boat, right? Just because I have a job that I dislike, a partner (spouse) that I really don’t understand or care for, or a life filled with fear and confusion doesn’t mean I should move towards happiness and peace.

Learning to recognize just who we are and what we are capable of doing for ourselves and others should be an awesome and incredibly wonderful experience. I know it was for me. But, as I have suggested for many it causes fear and stress (and it requires work and effort). Many students have asked me why I teach and I always respond “because I have no choice.” That is, if I listen to my mind and heart I know that teaching is what I am supposed to do, it is one of my gifts and I am very fortunate to recognize that. Why would we not allow ourselves to be true to our inner nature? Why would we not let ourselves do what we are gifted and created to do?

When we don’t listen to the truth about ourselves we are missing many opportunities to grow as individuals and to grow in the community of others. How many times have you been too afraid to do something because you feared rejection or just feared being yourself in the company of other people? When you reject the truth about what you feel and want to do you are missing opportunities to be yourself. You are creating a tension within you that will, over time, leave you feeling doubtful, unhappy and uncertain about life. Anger and resentment may also manifest themselves in you when you are not exercising your true spirit and nature.

I am sitting here in the early morning watching dozens of birds fly in and out of the cattails and willows. It is in my nature to be in nature. I will not deny that part of myself because when I do I am not being true to myself.

Learning to recognize your true potential does not simply mean knowing what job you should be doing, it implies much more than that. Your potential includes many aspects of who you are such as your likes and dislikes, your artistic and musical sides, your interests, your wants and desires, and so on. Please don’t confuse potential with work alone, it involves all parts of who you are as a person.
Listen to the truth of who you are and find time to experience yourself without fear of judgment. It is possible to be ourselves in the company of those who, until now, have made us feel uncomfortable and less than happy about who we are. Ground yourself in the knowledge that because you want to be honest with who and what you are you will be happier and more successful in all things. Don’t miss another opportunity to be less angry, frustrated or disappointed.

Copyright@2007. 5Monkey Life Coaching

Author's Bio: 

As a member of the International Coaching Association community, I am continually advancing my strengths as a Certified Professional Coach. I received my Master's in Psychology from Loyola Marymount University and I have more than 25 years of real-world experience, including instructor of Human Development and psychology at Folsom Lake College, American River College, Lake Tahoe Community College and Salt Lake Community College, Director of Counseling at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, CA and at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, CA. I am a published author on a variety of subjects related to psychology and education.

I created the "Who Am I? Project" (Copyright 2008 5monkey Life Coaching) and have had much success using it with a variety of ages, individuals and groups. The "Who Am I? Project" is a part of the life coaching program I currently offer. The program involves answering approximately 15 - 20 questions that delve into the core of who you are, your origins, your passions, your heroes and so on. The responses lead to much discussion that help reveal (to the participant) many important truths and insights.

I have many gifts that I use as a Life Coach, including a highly-developed intuition and a strong sense of ethics and values. I have been a teacher and counselor for more than twenty-five years and in that time I have helped many people realize their potential and the beauty in their lives.