Early on, when I began branding my business and came up with the Agoge Fitness Systems concept I took the tag line, “Everyone has potential…What’s yours?” I meant this as an uplifting challenge to everyone who came through my door, an invitation to see just what we are capable of, both as individuals and as a community.
Over the past few months, as I’ve continued to study Strengthology, the idea of potential has arisen again and this time with an interesting new spin.
Strengthology, is a concept envisioned by my friend and mentor Elliott Hulse. You’ve heard me talking about becoming the strongest version of yourself, Strengthology takes the idea of strength and propels it way beyond just the physical. In order to be truly strong we must be strong on all levels. Elliott has taken ideas from a wide variety of sources–Osho, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Paul Chek, Yang Jwing Ming and Alexander Lowen, to name just a few.
Alexander Lowen’s book, Language of the Body, is an introduction into the field of Bioenergetic Analysis. This is a branch of psychoanalysis that understands the intrinsic connection between our minds and our bodies and uses the body as an avenue to affect the mind as much as it uses the mind as an avenue to the body.
Lowen was a student of Wilhem Reich who was a student of Sigmund Freud. As such, Bioenergtic Analysis is an offshoot of Freudian psychology and builds many of it’s fundamental premises off of ideas first put forth by Freud and Reich.
Of particular interest to me is the idea that our “issues” as adults have their origins in childhood experiences and traumas. As a father of three beautiful daughters I am well aware of how perfect we come into this world. Sure, we are helpless and all we can do is eat, poop, sleep, cry and laugh, but isn’t that perfection? Isn’t that enlightenment?
As babies, we have yet to learn prejudice or fear or even anger. We have no sense of self and as such truly are “one with everything.” Our expressions, spontaneous and unhindered, are perfect mirrors of our souls, devoid of artifice and manipulation.
As we grow and have life experiences, both good and bad, those experiences begin to shape us and define the adult we become. To be sure it is an imperfect process and we have developed all kinds of tools, psychology, religion, drugs, the entire self help industry, to “correct” the mistakes of our upbringing.
In physics there is the concept of potential energy. This refers to the energy stored in an object due to it’s relative position. For example, a wrecking ball has stored or potential energy in an elevated position. If we let the ball fall that stored energy is released. It’s the same for a bow. Laying on a table undrawn it has no energy, but take it up and draw the bow, it now has stored energy which can be released to propel an arrow.
It is very easy when exploring ideas about psychology and dysfunction to fall into self pity. If the whole reason for “why I just can’t seem to get it right” can be traced back to childhood experiences, either trauma or neglect, which can never be undone, if “windows of opportunity” were missed never to be seen again, what can you do except feel sorry for your unfortunate child-self and weep for lost potential? “Oh, what would my life be like now, if only I had been breastfed?” “You know, my parents tried to potty train me at far too early an age. That’s why I just can’t relax.”
Only that misses the point entirely. Potential is due to relative position. In order for a bow to have power it must be distorted. Left alone, in perfect equilibrium, a bow can never propel an arrow. It must be pulled out of shape, subject to external force, in order to be effective.
Maybe we are born perfect, but if we’re allowed to stay that way, we’ll never get anything done.
So you have issues of neglect. So there were traumas in your life. Good for you. I am sorry for your pain, but I am more happy for the potential that pain has created in you.
Like the taught string of the bow you have been pulled from your original shape, but now, you have potential, what will you do with it? Will you let the stored energy continue to work at your edges, to strain your structure to the point you break or will you use that energy to propel you past your own personal injustices, to not only create healing in your own life but to affect the world around you as well?
There is much in my life, as I’m sure there is in yours, that did not go so well. There is a child in me who suffered and for whom I do, occasionally, weep and feel sorry for, but I am learning to be grateful for those experiences. I am learning that all the suffering I have had has put me in a unique position of strength and understanding and that the best thing I can do with those experiences is use them. I use them to propel me, like an arrow, forward.
The potential of these experiences is fuel. I will use this fuel to create healing not only in me but in the world around me as well. I invite you to do the same. We all have trauma, heartache, neglect…What will you do with yours?
My good friend, Elliott Hulse put together this video on suffering. It is an inspiration for helping you face those hard times. You can view it, HERE.
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