Sometimes I feel very connected to my maternal grandfather who died before I was born. He was a German linguist and collected words, more specifically words of the Low German dialect. My mother told us about the filing cabinets in his study, filled with one word on each card and a definition. People would send him words, and he would travel around northern Germany to explore and discover the meaning and use of these words. Eventually, in 1927, he published a 5 volume set of a Low German dictionary and it was re-printed in 1984, still used today! The power of words!
I enjoy playing with words in my own way and noticing my response to them. Sometimes a word just pops into my head and wants to be considered. This morning, it was the word potency. It felt so good, I had to play with it! I discovered that the words potential, possibility and potency all share the same Latin root “posse”, which means: “to be able”.
When I consider the word potential, interestingly enough, my first response is to come up with some feelings of guilt and shame. I feel like I am young girl in school and I have not done my homework. My teacher is just about to find out and let me know that this is not acceptable.
Somehow this word actively connects me to my inner judge who tells me that I may not be living up to my potential and that I should do more of “this” and less of “that”. It immediately pulls me into a state of being that has been created by taking on the rules, judgments and beliefs of family, friends and society, I all of a sudden feel smaller, shoulders are hunching forward and I am not breathing fully. Sounds familiar?
This is so interesting, because is all only happening in my mind. The word potential in itself does not have that sense of limitation, just the opposite actually: “to be able”. So where does this limiting interpretation come from?
I attribute a good part of it to the personal growth movement that often places a focus on phrases like “reaching one’s potential”, “living up to one’s potential” with an emphasis on needing to get somewhere. The idea is that we are not good enough, loveable and acceptable as we are, but only when we have accomplished certain visible milestones. Ahh, the pressure!!! No wonder I feel compressed when I think about that and this is an invitation to shift my underlying beliefs around this!
I notice that I have a completely different reaction to the word possibility, which shares the same Latin root. Somehow, possibility opens a different door in my being. It lovingly leads to expansion and excitement, indicators that I am connecting to my heart rather than my mind. Possibility brings me into a creative space of asking questions, of generating ideas, of re-visiting concepts and seeing how I can look at them from a different perspective. I do not experience the judgment and limitation of my mind here and can enjoy a sense of spaciousness in and around me. Definitely a word I want to hang out with!
This brings me to my “yummy” word for today: potency !
To me it is different than both potential and possibility. It conjures up images of something expansive and magical that is not clearly defined and even has a somewhat mysterious quality to it. I immediately have a vision of a dark, welcoming, womb-like space that is full of life force. I cannot see all that is there, yet I sense the fullness and richness of what is available. There is a power and strength underlying that I can connect to. I can rest here and replenish myself.
This place of potency is free of judgment and expectation. I can relax into the acceptance of being myself and am not pulled into thoughts of the past or the future. I can be in the present moment and allow peace and joy to arise in me. I feel alive and connected to myself and everything around me. I am in the flow of life.
How can it get any better than that?