Every cell in the body had the potential to become liver/muscle/eye/neuron. Everything.
But it exhibits only one.
Your mind can load old scenes and feel the related emotions. It can concentrate on a technical text. It can analyze a social setting, meditate. Endless possibilities.
Now it does only one thing (that is reading this exciting text without an ability to wander to more boring stuff)
It has many *potentials* but only one realization.
We mistake the potential to represent some "inner" things. So if you can cry you have a little cry inside, only you do not express it. Boring mistake! you may have a potential to cry but now that you do not cry, you are possibly very happy (with this exciting text)
Because this is not always intuitive, we fall in many traps.
Psychology. Many think that rehashing traumatic events will cure them. Alas, research shows that forgetting is many times much more effective. The idea that "you must talk about it", comes partly from thinking that the potential has to be handled. Forgetting that potential may better stay as a dormant potential evil.
One can understand same for positive potentials. We all have many potentials to enjoy and to be more successful. Not being there just says that potentials have not been evoked (but do not be naive...... do not risk your savings/emotional life on "unrealized potential"
I am just reading by Thomas Gilovich ("why we don't know what isn't so") that a central reason for pursuing bad strategies is because we never try alternative strategies (he speaks about interpersonal stuff). So there are many latent strategies we can use. We just never tried them.
Closely related: Extreme and special cases and causes (Static vs. dynamic causes of phenomenons Latent possible effects may always be there Inference form extreme/artificial cases is problematic)