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Potential as a Challenge

James Bugental is one of the founders of existential psychology. His book "The search for existential identity: Patient-therapist dialogues in humanistic psychotherapy" is a collection of real stories from therapist.

Bugental presents a very interesting idea in this book - we are all persons with spiritual disabilities. Human nature holds unrealized potential. Our task is to find the road to greater self-realization.

The chapter I like most in this book is "Hal: Objectivity and Limitedness."

Hal was forty-six years old man. He was focused on education and achieving best possible results in his career. He was a scholar and ran his own private psychotherapeutic practice. Hal tried to help everyone who needed his consultation. He forced himself to do more than a person can bear. He considered himself to be all-knowing and all-powerful Hal!

But Hal got stuck in life. He had a list of goals he would like to experience: to participate in expedition, to write the best psychology book, to date sexy girl, to travel... He dreamed of these things and ...did nothing with his life. Hal was dissatisfied with life. He understood that he didn't realize his full potential. For all these reasons Hal asked Bugental about psychotherapy and consulting.

At one meeting Bugental remarked that Hal tries to suppress emotions and anger against himself. Bugental proposed to release negative emotions. These emotions choked Hal and he began to weep. Then he began sobbing aloud.

Bugental noticed that he leaned toward Hal and started to sob also. They raised a hoarse howl. Suppressed sobs suddenly burst out in weeping and wailing. Bugental and Hal did it together. Bugental was fifty years old then he started therapy with Hal.

It was too late and they screamed. But late is better than never. So it is not late and they screamed loudly.

Then they could be calmed, Hal asked: "And you too?" It was a question about potential and lost opportunities. Bugental glanced at him and answered: "Yes, I am too." And they began to cry again.

It was a moment of awakening. After that Hal started to observe his new perspectives for life. He admitted his limitedness. This released him from terrible weight of liability and fault. He permitted himself to make mistakes. It was a new way for realizing true potential. It helped him to deal with despair.

I see this story so inspiring! This story resonates with Albert Camus' insight that "There is no joy of life without despair." Many of us wasted plenty of time not working on potential. We need to admit our limitedness. Nevertheless we can find the way how realize full potential. Though it will be imperfect and sometimes not comforting way but it will be unique and personal way. It is necessary for growing spiritually.

You can learn from reading other exciting stories in this book also. I would recommend this book to everybody who is interested in tough questions about human existence.