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How often do you allow your potential to be limited by others?

Today is May 31 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you allow others to limit your potential?” Like so many other Navigate the Chaos posts, this one focuses on the role others play in our ability to leverage our mind, body, and spirit in order to navigate the chaos and translate one dream after another into reality. The framework for this reflection today focuses on our relationships and, more specifically, why people stay in bad relationships.

The people in your life, those you live with, your friends, and anyone else in your sphere, often have a direct impact on your ability to navigate the chaos. To assess if you are in a relationship that may limit your potential, today’s reflection will use Randi Gunther's March 31, 2022, Psychology Today article "7 Reasons People Stay in Unhappy Relationships," as a reference point for the following series of questions.

  • How often do you find yourself in a relationship that contains moments of pain and joy but tell yourself experiencing both is the price you have to pay for being with that person?

  • How often do you find yourself believing that your current unhappy relationship situation is that best you can hope for since you firmly believe no one better will ever come along?

  • How often do you hold on to relationships that mimic the characteristics of those who raised you; often at the expense of not pursuing relationships with others who possess healthy traits unfamiliar to you?

  • How often do you stay in a relationship because you are afraid of the pain your leaving might cause others?

  • How often do you remain in a relationship that limits your potential because you are afraid of being alone?

  • How often does your attachment to someone who has a drug problem or some other health issue prohibit you from developing your potential?

  • How often does a lack of resources, especially money, limit your ability to leave a relationship that is limiting your potential?

One woman who never let others limit her potential was Mae Carol Jemison. As the first African American woman to travel in space, Mae Carol Jemison believed that she would “never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”

Jemison was born in Decatur, Alabama, on October 17, 1956, and the family moved to Chicago, Illinois, when Jemison was three years old, to take advantage of the better educational and employment opportunities there. As a young girl growing up in Chicago, she always assumed she would get into space. Jemison's parents were supportive of her interest in science, while her teachers were not.

According to Jamison "In kindergarten, my teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I told her a scientist…she said, 'Don't you mean a nurse?' Now, there's nothing wrong with being a nurse, but that's not what I wanted to be….I always knew I wanted to explore. At the time of the Apollo airing, everybody was thrilled about space, but I remember being irritated that there were no women astronauts. People tried to explain that to me, and I did not buy it."

After she obtained her M.D. in 1981, Jemison interned at Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center and later worked as a general practitioner. For the next two and a half years, she was the area Peace Corps medical officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia. In October 1985 Jemison made a career change and decided to follow a dream she had nurtured for a long time and applied for admission to NASA's astronaut training program.

The Challenger disaster of January 1986 delayed the selection process, but when she reapplied a year later, Jemison was one of the 15 candidates chosen from a field of about 2,000. She would eventually become the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992. Jamison did not allow herself to be limited by other people’s imaginations. Do you?

Author Roy T. Bennett noted “Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself. Believe in yourself, your abilities, and your own potential. Never let self-doubt hold you captive. You are worthy of all that you dream of and hope for. Do not let others tell you what you cannot do. Do not let the limitations of others limit your vision. If you can remove your self-doubt and believe in yourself, you can achieve what you never thought possible.”

Surround yourself with people you support your vision, who challenge you to think beyond your current vision, and who believe you can do what was once thought impossible.

  • How often do you believe in your infinite potential?

  • How often do you even remind yourself you have potential?

  • Is there someone in your life who is reminding you of your potential?

  • Do you remind others of their potential?

  • How often do you remind yourself that your limitations are those you set upon yourself?

  • How often do you let self-doubt hold you captive?

  • How often do you let others tell you what you can and cannot do?

  • How often do you let the limitations of others limit your vision?


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