We often settle for less in our lives because we accept what we think we deserve. Deep down, we intuitively know that there is more to life than this, but we continue to settle for mediocre jobs, monotonous routines, unfulfilling friendships, and toxic relationships. Sometimes, we catch a rare glimpse of our dormant creative potential, but we ignore our personal growth in favor of the immediate gratification of our ego-driven needs and desires. We know that we can have more meaningful, healthy, and fulfilling lives, yet we continue to self-sabotage our own happiness and contentment.
We cry and complain but don’t actually do anything about it. We may read self-help books but do not actually work on self-improvement. We don’t accept responsibility because that would mean pointing the finger of blame inward rather than outward. It would mean fighting our passiveness and doing more work, and so we choose to stagnate instead.
Here are five signs that you are limiting your own true potential:
1. You have an external locus of control.
Happiness is an internal controllable factor rather than a result of our circumstances. Deeper meaning and fulfillment can be gained through a strong sense of inner self-worth born out of self-esteem and self-respect. If you keep seeking validation from your relationships, they will be draining and dependent. If you keep escaping to workaholism and material pursuits, you will continue to feel empty and lonely. All the success, money, and fame in the world will never make you feel safe and secure because you will be so preoccupied with losing it. If you indulge in stimulating intoxicants, laziness, and meaningless activities, you will experience depressiveness after the temporary distraction. Until you stop running and start facing your fears, you will never feel like you have control over your own life.
2. You are emotionally disconnected from yourself.
We are being conditioned to pursue happiness through external validation. Our social system values conventional standards of success such as acquisition of wealth, social status, and awards. With the proliferation of superficial social media use, life has become a social media highlight reel and a never-ending audition. We are constantly trying to prove that we are worthy enough through constant comparison. We are so obsessed with being picked by our dream career and our dream lover that we do not stop to consider whether it is just an idealized fantasy that will not actually make us happy. We are giving away our power by becoming emotionally dependent on others. We are becoming emotionally disconnected from our own selves. As a result, we are unable to have meaningful relationships with our partners and professions due to a total inability to connect.
3. You try to avoid pain by seeking comfort.
We run and hide from fear, and we try to overcome and conquer it as if it were our greatest enemy. But instead of fearing fear, we should learn to embrace in. It can be our greatest friend, as it can inspire us to rise to the greatest heights. We miss out on opportunities because we are so focused on what we would lose if we take them up rather than what we can potentially gain. We are risk-averse because we are so concerned with seeking safety and security in an unpredictable world.
The thing about life is that it is uncertain, and the only constant is change. Once we get comfortable with that, the possibilities are endless.
4. You focus on consuming rather than creating.
We spend our hard-earned money on buying materialistic things that we don’t need, to sustain a lifestyle that we don’t want, to impress people that we don’t even like. We consume less-than-stellar media and advertising on television rather than actively creating and engaging with enriching content. Doing this dulls our natural curiosity and sense of exploration and adventure. If we are so focused on being perfect based on societal approval, we will never engage in the challenging and creative process of authentic self-discovery.
5. You don't introspect and try to improve.
Self-awareness is hard work because it requires that we take the time to reflect and revisit difficult memories. A worldwide empathy deficit is one of the crucial causes of intellectual immaturity and lack of emotional intelligence. In order to be intimate with our true selves, we need to empathize with our own insecurities, fears, needs, and desires. We can only truly connect with others by getting to know ourselves, which requires a habitual commitment to self-management. Rather than simply reacting to whatever pushes our buttons, we should be consciously choosing to act in a certain way. If we are aware of our own strengths and weaknesses, then we can improve and grow into more evolved and conscious human beings, capable of accessing our creative potential.