You know you were meant for great things but fear holds you back from living your full potential.
Whether it is fear of outdoing your parents or friends, fear of losing your identity, or fear of failure, it’s more common than you think. Our egos become invested in how we are now, and can’t conceive of another version of ourselves, even if that “version” is happier and more successful.
In fact, this is the rule, not the exception.
An overdeveloped ego would much rather see you in a worse off position, which makes you more vulnerable and dependent on the ego for reassurance and comfort, than the alternative.
If you became happy and successful, there’s a chance you would outgrow your ego, and that isn’t allowed.
How do you overcome the ego and its fear of your own potential? The first step is understanding all the little games your ego makes you play to keep you stuck.
Trauma is Where the Fear Takes Root
Most fear of progress has its origins in trauma.
You were told you can never live up to your parents or siblings, you were told you are a screw up and always fail, you were made to believe you would be betraying who you are if you made a better life for yourself.
These “tiny traumas” that we endure as children often stay with us our entire lives until we process them.
You’ve probably heard before that you have to “push through” your fears, and rightly so.
However, what you’re really pushing through is the web of bullshit that was fed to you, most likely as a kid.
You may think you moved past the hurtful words of your parents or the trappings of your upbringing, but their effects can linger.
The ego will “protect” you by shaping your identity around all of your flaws and problems, and spin them in a good light. In this way do people become “stuck” with their present identity.
They may want to change, but are far too invested in who they are “now” to take the necessary steps.
It might sound absurd on the surface, that someone might identify as being poor, lazy, unhealthy, or a failure, but it’s actually extremely common.
The ego perceives any attempt to change this identity as a personal threat to its existence, and will sabotage you if you attempt to interfere.
Trauma like this is “death from 1000 cuts.” Whatever you try to do to better yourself, it just feels like you encounter another setback or get cold feet right when an opportunity presents itself.
You’re not alone. Understand that it is your ego, your trauma that is the problem. Not you.
Make the distinction.
Bringing Out Your Potential
You overcome fear of your potential by first realizing that you deserve to live out your greatness.
We all have talents, skills, latent abilities, and amazing ideas that we can share with the world. You can also cultivate new skills and form new ideas even if you have none to start.
There are people that would benefit from these skills and ideas. There are people that would be entertained by them.
We also all deserve to be healthy and happy. This is a part of what it means to live a successful, fulfilling life.
So understand, you do deserve all of this. These are not lofty goals that only a select few people are entitled to.
But your potential will go to waste if it is never realized.
So your first task is to tell yourself that you will not let anything hold you back from your greatness, especially not yourself.
Little mantras of empowerment like this can actually go a long way. Some people never have anyone telling them they can be great, which is a shame.
You have to be your biggest cheerleader. If you won’t celebrate your progress, who will?
The second step requires a little initiative. You have to start meditating.
If you’ve never meditated before or you tried and failed, this can sound daunting. It’s not.
Your goal with meditating in this case is to learn to observe the distinction between your ego, and your Self.
It’s a massive eye-opener and a big step on the path to greatness.
You know that voice in your head with all the fears and doubts? That’s not you.
This is really the kind of thing that should be taught in school but unfortunately, it’s not: the nature of the mind and self-identity.
We’re sort of made to believe that all of the mess inside our heads is “us.” Every last mood, thought, idea, song lyric, fear, emotion, perversion, and picture that appears in our head is just taken at face value as our identity. No one questions it, we just accept it.
This couldn’t be further from the truth however.
The misconception that all the chaos in your head is “you” is what causes so much pain and suffering in our daily lives, as well as fear states that hold us back from living out our true potential.
There are two main parts of your mind: the ego, and the Self. Certain branches of psychology and esoteric traditions split the mind in a multitude of different ways to illustrate different points, but I find this gets far too confusing, especially for our purposes here.
The only thing you need to know is that the brain creates a series of memories and neural connections based on sensory input, and that this jumble of biochemical feedback and connection is what I loosely refer to as the “ego.”
It is the identity we form in childhood largely based on how we are treated. It is like a crude interface we use for interacting with the world based on our experiences and the results of our actions.
The ego is not us. This cannot be stressed enough.
Did you ever have a random, bizarre thought or memory pop into head unbidden out of nowhere and your mental reaction was “why did I just think that?” you already understand the fact that the ego is not you.
The real “you” is what sages call the Observer. It is the part of you that acknowledges the existence of the ego and watches it almost like a parent watches a child in a crib flounder around and babble.
Meditation helps teach you to make this distinction more often so you don’t get roped into associating with the ego.
The fact that we create egos in the first place is largely due to instinct driven by fear. It was likely a survival mechanism our ancestors used.
However, the ego doesn’t serve you. It only cares about protecting itself, or the identity it has created and wants you to believe is “you.”
Thus it will go to great lengths to maintain that identity, including the “feeling” of fear whenever you approach a point of growth or evolution.
You push past these feelings large by disassociating with the ego.
Meditation helps you recognize that these thoughts and feelings are not you and have nothing to do with you. They are the byproducts of your ego, nothing more.
The fear you’re feeling is a trauma mechanism. It can be easily circumvented by realizing that the feeling doesn’t need to be felt because it doesn’t pertain to you.
Step by Step Observation Meditation
To get the most out of your meditation, don’t have any attachments or expectations about the outcome or results.
You’re here to learn and understand, not achieve some mythical goal or anything.
You are exploring the connection between your fear and your ego, nothing more.
Follow these simple directions to get started:
- Find a place where you feel comfortable and sit either cross-legged or in the lotus position if that suits you.
- Ensure that your muscles are relaxed and that your back is straight. Work with your body, not against it. Allow yourself to relax and de-stress.
- Begin breathing slowly and evenly through your nose. For this meditation, it is not overly necessary to count or focus on the breath. Just relax.
- Once you are ready, simply visualize yourself as an eagle or owl high in the treetops, watching a valley below. This valley is your ego, full of chaos, mystery, joy, pain, and attachment. There is a ton of activity down there, but none of it concerns you. You’re merely observing.
- Thoughts are going to pop into your head as you quiet your mind and practice this observational stillness. Let them.
- When thoughts arise, your only job is to acknowledge them from the standpoint of an observer. These thoughts and feelings are not you. It is important to treat them like artifacts or commercials on TV. You are watching them and are not connected to them. Do not try to suppress them or push them aside. Allow them to rise into your awareness, and fall the same way.
- Continue to practice this for a while. You might find that your mind even wanders. Pull your consciousness back with the scene of an eagle looking over a valley. You may temporarily be intrigued by the action down below, but you are the observer only and must remain distanced.
- Overtime, you will come to know the distinction between “you” and your ego. They are two very different things, and one is not you. By coming to this realization, the power these thoughts and feelings have over you will begin to fade.
Fear usually manifests because of an over-association with the ego. Your identity is too wrapped up in a false you.
The key to overcoming your fear is to realize that you were meant for greater things and that the “you” that doesn’t believe this isn’t real. It’s a figment of your ego.
Practice meditation and learn to “observe” the ego as it attempts to draw you into its narrative.
And one final word about realizing your potential, this is all part of the journey.
Simply the act of processing your ego and moving past your false identity is a “part” of realizing your full potential. It’s not just about snagging that job or being a good partner, or whatever else you are trying to achieve. It’s about evolving as a person and reaching that “next level.”
Don’t let your ego keep you from walking the Path.