Never Reach Your Full Potential? 7 Reasons Why

by Andrea Blundell

You try so darned hard. And yet here you are, still struggling. Or you have done what you thought would make you feel accomplished, but you don’t. Why is it you never seem to reach your full potential?

1. You don’t know yourself.

This can come from a childhood where you only received attention if you were pleasing or ‘good’. You weren’t allowed to be sad or angry, unless you wanted to be ignored and made to feel unloveable.

So you learned to hide ‘you’ so well that you grew up into an adult who only knows who she or he is in relation to others. Your core self has gone missing.

In her famous book, “The Drama of Being a Child“, psychotherapist Alice Miller talks of adults who were praised as children only for their achievements. “They are successful whenever they care to be – but behind all this lurks depression, a feeling of emptiness and alienation, and a sense that their life has no meaning”.

2. You are living out someone else’s values.

Your parents taught you that stability and fitting in are what matter. And here you are, with a lovely stable life and healthy position in your community…

..and you feel flat. Like a failure, even though on paper you ticked the boxes you thought you should.

But what are YOUR personal values? The things that deeply matter to you if everything else falls apart?

If that is actually freedom, adventure, and creativity, no wonder you feel so tired. You are chasing someone else’s dream.

3. You are driven by negative core beliefs.

You work so hard, you do all the right things that work for everyone else… but somehow you just don’t get ahead. Little things go wrong, things fall apart at the last minute, you have ‘bad luck’….

This is often a case of negative core beliefs running the show. These aren’t the thoughts you are aware you have. They are assumptions you made as a child then decided were fact. And they are like an embedded computer program running your unconscious mind and actually dictating your decisions.

For example, you have the limiting belief you are not worthy of good things. You take a new job, you start doing well, and then you somehow decide to take on a volunteer post at nights that sees you always tired. So you start doing badly at work, until your boss starts to comment and you tell yourself, the thing is, I was never cut out for this job. You can’t see that you self-sabotaged.

4. You are addicted to comparing yourself to others.

How would always comparing yourself to others hold you back? Because if we have this (often addictive) habit it can throw us off track.

We start to think we should want what others want. Or our competitive nature can have us start doing things that are actually not in line with our main goals, simply so we compare better in future.

5. You like to feel bad.

How could anyone like to feel bad? You’d be surprised.

If we grew up in a household that was unstable, or where we were always criticised or punished for being ourselves, feeling bad can feel like home. It’s our comfort zone. Feeling good is what feels scary and out of control.

Notice the next time something good happens to you. Do you lean in? Or instantly reach for alcohol, or overeat? Space out with some TV? You are avoiding feeling good and sabotaging your full potential.

6. You are trying to control everything. 

Here’s a key thing about people who get ahead in life. Half the time they have other people doing everything for them.

Delegating can only happen if you stop trying to control everything. Control issues waste time and energy and keep you stuck.

7. You have mental health issues that block your full potential.

reach your full potential

photo by: Kristopher Roller

It’s very hard to get ahead if your own mind is the enemy. What people don’t recognise about mental health issues is that they make everything twice a hard.

Depression can leave you so exhausted and foggy headed everything takes three times as long.

Anxiety means that your mind is so full of crazy-town thoughts you forget important things, are late for big meetings, and always seem flustered. As for sleeping well, forget it.

Adult ADHD is the greater holder-back of high IQ types. All that smart stuff gone to waste because you can’t finish projects, or get bored and bail right before good things happen.

Personality disorders mean you waste a lot of time trying to get along with people. Who just never seem to think like you do or understand you. It’s exhausting and takes a lot of time out of your day that could otherwise be used for reaching your full potential.

If this is true, how can you reach your full potential?

Remember, delegating is key. And sometimes what we need to delegate is figuring it all out ourselves.

In other words, we need support. Not just friends who tell us what we want to hear, or family members who are invested in our decisions and, even if well-meaning, want to sway us in a way that benefits them.

Proper support may be a coach, a counsellor, or a psychotherapist. Someone who creates a safe space, challenges you to see a new perspective, and encourages you to try new ways of thinking and being that move you to your real potential.

Talk therapies that can help if you want to reach your full potential include:

Time to stop the struggle and finally move forward? We connect you to top London talk therapists. Or find UK-wide registered therapists and online counsellors on our booking site. 


Still have a question about how to reach your full potential? Or want to share your best tip with other readers? Use the comment box below. 

Andrea BlundellAndrea Blundell has worked as a writer for 25 years. With training in person centred counselling and coaching, she is the lead writer and editor of this site. Find her on Twitter and Linkedin

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