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Unlocking your potential

Always remember, you are always more than you think you are, unlocking your potential will prove this to you. Focus on the now, Here's how.

Always remember, you are always more than you think you are. Unlocking your potential will prove this to you! Here’s how.

We humans have tremendous potential. For most of us, however, especially those with mental illness, this potential goes unrealized. But why? Well, it can happen for a number of reasons, but mostly, we tend to underestimate our own value.

With that said, I often find myself wondering, “Is it really important to understand why one has locked up their potential?” Furthermore, do we need to know the exact source of one’s self-loathing? Personally, I’m inclined to think the answer is both yes and no. Here’s the rundown.

Firstly, it may be wise to explore why one’s self-esteem is in a state of non-self-actualization. For example, if you were raised in a household that spends most of your upbringing by questioning and criticizing, you likely will end up feeling “less than.” Not an advantageous position to start life out in. But, because we have been led to believe that we can’t realize our dreams, doesn’t mean we can’t… Hear me out.

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We are like a house plant – here’s the scenario.

We all know people in our lives who just can’t look after even the simplest of house plants (amI right?) No matter what they do, their plants, the poor things, seem to wither. In reality, many people just neglect them, not intentionally, but maybe plants just aren’t their “thing.” Or maybe these folks are terrified of killing these plants. And in their efforts to not kill these living green things, they do.

So, say you’re at a friend’s house and he/she/they are moving. They are inches away from tossing this half-dead house plant out; when you scream, “No No, what are you doing? That plant’s not dead!” They respond with, “Ugh – I suck at looking after house plants. I always seem to kill them.” This is followed by, “Here – you want it? Be my guest.”

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You eagerly accept and take home the plant.You look after it, lovingly and with diligence, and nurse this house plant back to life. Now, a few weeks later, it’s lush and green, vibrant and flowering.

So, now that it is robust, strong, and healthy, I ask you: does it matter where it came from, what its past was like? Maybe not as much as we think?

How are you and a house plant alike?

At first glance, you may not see the similarities between yourself and a singular, withering house plant. But what if I told you that, many of us are that house plant? In other words, our childhood may have made us wither and sag because of unintentional/intentional neglect, verbal teardowns, etc.

Regardless, I think it’s fair to say that any one of us who have had the wind taken out of our sails will, by default, lock their true potential behind fear and anxiety. Why wouldn’t we? After all, anxiety’s superpower is avoidance. So, if one fears chasing their dreams, their growth (potential) is delayed, not nurtured.

Essentially, you are both the plant and caregiver, responsible to see that you flourish. While your past may have plunged you into a state of perpetual angst, what can you do about that now? How can you unlock your full potential? These are the questions that matter today.

While sometimes our poor self-esteem might not be so obvious to us, there are signs that tell us that we have some growing to do. For example, are you still seeking relationships that mirror your childhood expectations within yourself? In other words, are you being met with neglect and verbal tear downs? If this is true for you, you have fallen into an unhealthy, but familiar pattern that continues to stunt your growth. Furthermore, do you often find yourself saying something like, “Guys/girls, they’re all the same.”?

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While this may seem true, it’s far more likely that you are choosing a partner you feel matches your long-believed perception of your worth or lack thereof. This is of course an inaccurate narrative because you are always worth more than you think.

Want to work on quelling your fears? Get help from a mental health professional; step outside of your comfort zone, even if this means a toe at a time. In my view, unlocking your potential should consist of this:

How to realize your potential

In conclusion, your past doesn’t have to be the mantra of your entire life. You are, in fact, more than you think you are. So, nurture yourself. What you do today will determine your future. Please don’t wither and give up on yourself. Like the house plant, you have the potential to flourish and win back your life. Unlocking your potential will set your passions afire.

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Jonathan Arenburg.
Jonathan Arenburg.

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental-health blogger, writer, and published author, appearing in the i’Mpossible’s Projects Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental Health Talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has written for the mental-health advocacy organization Sick Not Weak.

Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health-related podcasts including: A New Dawn, The Depression Files, Books and Authors, and Men Are Nuts. Since being put off work because of PTSD, Jonathan has dedicated his time to his mental-wellness journey while helping others along the way.

Educated as an addictions counsellor, he has dedicated most of his professional life of eighteen years to working with those who have intellectual disabilities, behavioural challenges, and mental illness.

He has also spent fifteen years in the volunteer fire service helping his community.

His book “The Road To Mental Wellness” goes into detail about his life-long battle with depression, anxiety and more recently, PTSD. In it, he hopes to provide insight on how mental illness cultivates over a lifetime and, if not recognized and treated, how it impacts the entirety of one’s life, right from childhood into the adult years. Jonathan lives with his two children in Nova Scotia, Canada.


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