The Difference Between Potential and Capable

Relationship issues are often at the forefront in individual therapy. It can be a current issue that is affecting a relationship or it can be an issue that is historical and has always existed – a parent’s continued expectations or lack of acceptance, a sibling who is jealous and drama driven, a partner who is unmotivated.  Whatever the issue is, it remains something difficult to conquer, a continued disappointment; it has become unmanageable or heavy.

When it comes to relationships, we often grant our loved ones with  “potential.” We see their good qualities, their soft side, we may see how they treat other people (or animals) and wish they could afford us the same care. Sometimes we reflect on how it was in the beginning. We see their potential. It is a word that is filled with hope but is also one that pertains to the future. That one day, our loved one might achieve what we wish them to achieve; that one day, we may see the change we have so been wishing for.

We are much better served to look at the capacity of our loved ones. We all have our wounds that get in the way of growth; our qualities, learned behaviours and patterns, our way of processing the world, our way of being. Perhaps our loved one will never be capable of giving us what we need. Perhaps they lack the capacity based on their own defenses. When we look at the capacity of our loved one, it gives us permission to either accept it or leave it. In either case, our hope is a realistic one and we are able ourselves to come to a place of greater empathy and compassion, not only for our loved one but for ourselves as well.

Potential versus capable; there is a difference 🙂

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