Realizing Your Potential – How to Be Who You Want to Be
Do you ever long to be something different, or greater, to be like your heroes? Do you want to start realizing your potential? But, almost instantly, all the doubts, all the 'evidence', come rushing in and you talk yourself back down a peg or two?
I am a professional violinist. I am up on stage performing on a regular basis, both in classical symphony orchestras and with my violin and guitar duo.
I have put in my 10,000 hours (and then some!) and can play pretty well. I’m competent and very experienced. So far so good.
But I have deep, dark secret.
I have always wanted to be a violin virtuoso.
I surreptitiously watch these other violinists – in my mind, single, carefree, and, yes, even careless, young guys – racing up and down their violins, playing around like monkeys up and down a tree…making it look so easy. When I know it is not.
A logical, rational part of my mind knows that they must have put in hours too. But…how come they don’t seem blocked and self-conscious every time they dash off these bright, shiny showpieces?
And why can’t I be like them?
Here’s where the whole ‘chicken and egg’ thing comes into play. Which came first?
The deed? Messing up half-way through a fast passage or not having mastered the skills required for Paganini or other terrifyingly complicated violin repertoire.
Or the thoughts? ‘I’ll never be that brilliant, I have to practice for hours and hours and even then I don’t have that same easy effortless sound and look.’
Well, the way I see it, it’s this whole thing of 'creating my own reality'.
I believe I am less competent, slower and less able, and so my playing reflects that. But, and here’s the ray of hope, there are moments of exception to the rule. Moments when I am feeling especially happy and optimistic and excited, full of belief in myself, above self-doubt, and…suddenly everything flows.
And the other thing is recognizing that I am improving, that I play much better - faster, more in tune, more reliably etc. - than I did a year ago.
The potential - and the possibility of realizing your potential - is there.
So given that I am always expanding, learning and growing, and that I still have this greater potential to access (and this, of course, goes for all of us), let me take a moment to consider then that it is only my mind that is holding me back.
(Only, she says!)
And what is my mind in this context? My thoughts. My repetitive, on-a-loop, habitual mind tapes which get triggered automatically when things are looking challenging.
Could it really be as simple then as saying, ‘Change my thoughts, change me’?
Yes, I truly believe it is. When I think of myself in a new way, then I will be able to take the action to create that new me.
Being by allowing yourself not to be
I remember the first time I learnt to do a headstand in yoga classes. The teacher said, ‘You must think of yourself as ‘Someone-who-can-do-a-headstand.’
So I had a little talk to myself. ‘You’re fairly strong and flexible. You’ve got pretty good balance and he’s going to be right there to catch you if you start to flip over.’
And then with his help and encouragement I managed to get upside down, achieving a rather imperfect, wobbly headstand.
And here’s the magic part. Once I had done one once, even rather badly and with help, then the next time it was easy-peasy. I now knew I could do one so I stopped talking myself out of it. I was a ‘Headstand Producer’ and I was able to pop upside down, no problem at all, in no time.
Now I have to confess that another part of the puzzle was that I didn’t really care either way. I love yoga and I like doing it well, but I really didn’t mind one way or another if I was brilliant or perfectly pathetic at headstands. I had no problem 'realizing my potential' here.
And precisely giving myself permission to be bad at it allowed me to achieve it fast.
So to get back to the virtuoso thing. How can I stop wanting it so badly? This longing that has been with me since I started learning to play the violin? That feels much too much like giving up.
But I also know that the biggest breakthroughs in my life have been preceded by moments of surrender, of letting go. And like Indiana Jones stepping out into the abyss, taking his leap of faith, there has always been a bridge stretched out in front of me.
So how do I get to this place of being able to surrender, to give up wanting so much without turning my back on it?
After several years of learning inner techniques I now have several tools that help me with this.
One such tool is EFT, which has become my number one way of clearing my limiting beliefs and unhelpful thoughts and of letting go of what is holding me back.
'And WTH is EFT?’ you might be asking.
Well, it’s short for ‘Emotional Freedom Technique’ or even just ‘tapping’. An ‘energy healing modality’, sort of like acupuncture without the needles. You tap on points on your face and body while addressing what is bothering you, often starting ‘negative’ and eventually moving through to more positive statements as you start to shift the resistance to doing so.
For a more detailed explanation of EFT, check out my article 'EFT- The Whats, Whens and Hows'. But in the meantime, here are the common tapping points that are used. (They are all endpoints of the meridians, or energy channels - used in Chinese medicine for the last 5,000 or so years - that run through the body.)
So here's how I went about clearing my limiting belief that I may never be a virtuoso violinist.
I started by taking a reading on a scale of 0 to 10 of how strong the emotions that were coming up were affecting me. They were at a 7. You can do it too, but instead of the words 'virtuoso violinist' you insert what makes sense for you.
Then, tapping on the side of the hand, on what is known as the karate chop point, I repeated:
Even though I may never be a virtuoso violinist (here’s where you insert that dream that you still aren’t allowing), I choose to love and accept myself.
Even though I may never play as fast, as brilliantly, as incredibly as I would like, I choose to love and forgive myself.
Even though I may never be a virtuoso, I choose to deeply and completely love, honor and accept myself, and anyone else who may have passed on these beliefs to me, knowingly or unknowingly.
I then continued round the points repeating the same phrase:
'I may never be a virtuoso violinist'.
And as I tapped I realized that allowing ‘not being a virtuoso’ didn’t have to stop me from aspiring and practicing and pushing myself…but that I could do so from a much easier, loving, safer place.
And I could stop the internal beatings and be compassionate with myself.
And also acknowledge the qualities that I do possess as a violinist – responsibility, professionalism, musicality, sensitivity, strength…and really value myself for those (instead of down-playing them)... and therefore be able to build on them.
And, last but definitely not least, recognize that I am OK and that I am enough. That I am in for the long haul and that these qualities are also vital components of the whole, just as much as virtuosism.
You see, it really is ‘all perfect’. Even the imperfect bits.
- What you believe creates your own reality - changing your thoughts leads to changing yourself.
- You start realizing your potential in the moments when you are happy and inspired.
- Giving yourself permission to be bad at something allows you to achieve it much faster.
- Tools such as EFT can help to clear limiting beliefs around what you believe you can or can't do.