Will Doing More Of The Same Release Your Peak Potential?
Have you ever wondered why you just keep doing more of the same? And is “more of the same” really working to your advantage, toward releasing your peak potential? Why are humans often so resistant to doing anything that will create positive change within themselves? Learning more, finishing a writing project, practicing music, exercising to improve strength and endurance, or cleaning out the bats in the belfry by going to therapy. Or telling ourselves that our intermediate skills will get us by when mastery is really what we want.
There is no end to our resisting the changes that could result in our becoming more healthy, connected, and strong human beings. It is crazy how our bodies, emotions, and our minds all complain when we want to upgrade our level of development.
Our bodies resist pain when we push them beyond the window they are used to performing at. Our minds make up excuses about why we should avoid the pain of the 5K run. And our emotions collude with our bodies and our minds by making us feel overwhelmed about getting up in the morning at a time that is good for us to do the exercise that will make us feel even better than we do now.
For those of us who are writers, our minds and emotions create endless excuses to prevent us from putting pen to page. The classic ones have to do with not having the energy or the inspiration to write. How much energy does it really take to move your hand and put words on paper? Sure there is thinking and emotional energy required to write. Most writers will tell you that writing is often enjoyable and easy once they overcome their negative thoughts and emotions.
How about meditation? Our monkey minds distract us and make it difficult to do nothing. And not think about anything. What are our minds resisting except perhaps emotions we do not want to feel? Or letting go of thoughts that steal our self-compassion? And what outcome from meditation are we resisting except a new calmer, more peaceful, conscious, and intentional state of being?
A Leap (or Dive) of Faith
I had not been swimming for ten years and thought it would be a good idea to start. It helps when you want to awaken your scuba hobby. When the six a.m. alarm went off to get me out of bed and travel to the pool, nothing in me wanted to move. And when I got to the pool in the cool of the morning, my mind, emotions, and body resisted taking Kierkegaard’s leap of faith into the colder-than-air water. After a five-minute shock to my system, I was moving along in liquid space, waking up muscles and lung capacity that had been asleep for years. For the rest of the day, I felt a tingly aliveness that my body was telling me it wanted more of.
Why do our minds, bodies, and emotions resist the positive impact that exercise, meditation, and writing can have on our lives? Why is doing more of the same the easier option to choose?
Defaulting to the More of the Same Principle
George Gurdjieff, the philosophical and spiritual teacher of the Enneagram, described humans as machines that are resistant to changing habitual mechanical patterns of thinking, feeling, and behavior. He believed that unless we challenge ourselves, we will move into a habitual mode of functioning. That we will adopt whatever survival strategy we are currently using and resist making changes that are outside of what is familiar to us. Neuroscientists call our habitual automatic brain functioning our default mode network. I’m calling it the more of the same principle.
Our brains appear to be wired to keep bringing us back to thinking, feelings, and emotions that are familiar. Even though what is familiar to us does not tap our peak potential. Our machine-like brains like to keep us doing the things that are familiar to us. To keep us doing “more of the same”.
I call this the “more of the same principle”. When people are stressed and do not know what to do, they do more of the same. If they have a big house they build a bigger one. Two kids…make a third. If they win a local Cross Fit competition they will be off to regionals and then perhaps nationals. They will push themselves in whatever area they have had some success in. Even if doing that thing is not tapping into their true potential.
This becomes a real problem when we are addicted to eating, sex or other dopamine-producing behaviors that numb us out and distract us from learning how to do what will tap into our peak potential. For the brain, doing the same is safer than taking an unknown risk to achieve a new level of psychological, physical, or spiritual development.
What is Peak Potential?
This begs the question. What is peak potential? There are very different views. Some might say that if you have perfect pitch you would find your peak potential in music. If you have a mathematical brain your college major is obvious. If you are a natural intuitive then being a spiritual teacher is where your peak potential is found.
It is true enough that some of us will shine in particular areas where we are genetically loaded to have an advantage over others. I was delighted to find that “23 and Me” discovered that I have the genetic structure of an elite athlete. Actually, this was not really a surprise since I won an award for being the most valuable athlete in my college. The truth was, I did not work very hard to be outstanding in athletics.
One could argue that if I had worked harder the Sea Hawks would have drafted me and not just scouted me. The truth was that I was either too lazy to work hard enough to be a pro. Or maybe my interest in psychology and graduate school led me away from an area of peak potential to something that would be more rewarding in the big picture of my life. I choose to believe that is true.
What Gurdjieff and the wisdom of the enneagram teach, is that peak potential is more spiritual than mechanistic. It is released from the spiritual essence of who we are. And the essence of love is the power that makes each of us our best. Regardless of the human mechanical genius we possess.
The Mind of Einstein
I am an Einstein fanatic. I have listened to Walter Isaacson’s Einstein audiobook more times than I can recall. The man’s intellect, personality, and life fascinate me. While I will never have anything but a superficial understanding of his “general and special theories of relativity”, what amazes me is how he managed to defy the established science about particle reality.
What kind of mind, by using thought experiments, is able to come up with an idea of how gravity bends light? The bizarre nature of quantum theory was, and is, so out of the box for anyone who has a deterministic view of reality. Einstein was so committed to a deterministic way of viewing the cosmos, his quantum theory was too much for him to get his own head around in the latter part of his life. His famous quote “God doesn’t play dice” was essentially a rejection of the implications of the theory that he invented that revolutionized physics. Yup, even after creating a revolutionary breakthrough he couldn’t let go of his more of the same thinking.
So how does a man create a theory that contradicts his core value system? Or the mechanistic way of believing the universe has to function? Physicists like Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg who ran with Einstein’s quantum theory, struggled with why he argued against his own revolutionary discovery.
This is a great example of our capacity to tap into our core peak potential that is greater than anything our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, or values systems can create.
A Greater Power
Great masters like Davinci, Bach, Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras, Buddha, and Jesus were connected with what Alcoholics Anonymous followers call a power greater than themselves. It is this bigger-than-we-are intelligence that Gurdjieff suggests is accessible to every person willing to voyage into the depths of our unknown souls.
Carl Jung knew. He didn’t just believe, he knew! Jung learned how to understand the truth given to him in moments of inspiration. He didn’t let the scary or confusing symbols of the unconscious prevent him from learning from the shadow self. The shadow selves that many of us run from.
Balancing Your 3 Centers of Intelligence to Find Your Peak Potential
Every part of ourselves that we reject keeps us in chains. It is one more ghost scaring us from realizing how to actualize and bring into balance our three centers of intelligence. The emotional, physical, and mental centers that we all carry. We want to cling to the one that is easiest for us to use. And deny our capacity to learn how to use the others. Our heads can never tell us how to listen to the cries of our children the way our hearts can. Our hearts sometime make a mess of decisions about how to invest in real estate. And our hearts and our heads better listen to our bodies when they tell us we’re in danger of the stress we are collecting from overworking ourselves.
The ghosts make us afraid that we will never be able to love others because their intelligence is different than ours. This is so ironic. Life has a way of gifting us with people who are able to see what we cannot see. And teach us how to love in ways not possible without the arms, hearts, and minds of another.
Einstein did not invent alone. Yes, there were countless hours of him being lost in his imagination. Or in his accessing the depths of his heart intelligence by playing his violin. He followed his desire to love deeply in his relationships with women and his children. And he shared his head intelligence with the other geniuses who helped him with math problems. Those problems that did not come easy for him. With the astronomers and experimentalists who would ultimately validate the ideas he found in the divine ether of his active imagination.
What Brilliance Will You Offer the World?
Turn your attention inside of yourself. Listen to the rhythms of grace helping you to relax and to not be afraid of what you do not understand. Take a few breaths. Find the deep peace inside of yourself that will allow you to continue to journey. The journey to the depths of what prevents you from finding brilliance. Brilliance that only you can offer the world.
Our inner voices that paralyze our progress are shame, imperfection and striving. They are fear of not knowing, control, and fantasy. Our need to save others and the planet. And our attempts to stay in heaven and not return to earth once we find it. Every one of these voices is an assault on the truth of who we are. Creatures seeking to realize the beauty of our uniqueness and expression of the perfection of the divine image. The image we possess in the here-and-now of day-to-day existence.
We are none of the fears that our ghosts whisper into our ears. Our ghosts are simply the negatives of the photos that become beautiful when we bathe them in the chemistry of normal living. Every fear is a hidden potential waiting to be born.
Self-awareness and Evolution
Self-awareness is the only requirement for evolution. What we do not know we cannot know without the guidance of the divine mind. The divine leading us through the caverns of our own perceived limitations. And sometimes our frightening imaginations. Our ghosts are required to lead us to the angels that never leave us and are always protecting us. They are speaking words of peace when we are paralyzed with the fear that our growth will threaten the life we know.
There is unimaginable positive creative expression waiting to be unlocked in every soul. But we must have the courage to let go of the need to keep doing “more of the same.”
Hi, I’m Michael W. Regier, Ph.D. I’m highly trained and experienced in working with individuals and couples to find their peak potential in themselves and in relationship. Along with my wife Paula, I’ve co-authored Emotional Connection: The Story & Science of Preventing Conflict & Creating Lifetime Love. Let me know how I can help you live into your peak potential.