Usually when people are consistently unhappy, their unhappiness has more to do with how they define themselves than with what their specific problems are. Whether weak or strong, capable or incapable, secure or insecure, we tend to perceive ourselves in certain ways and then support those perceptions with beliefs and behaviors that anchor us in that level of development. In reality, our perceptions about ourselves are merely a belief system that we choose to accept. So, if you don't like the way you've defined yourself up until now, make new choices. That's where it all begins.
As human beings, we tend to believe that we are what we believe we are. But our perceptions are only beliefs, and beliefs can be altered or discarded. It just takes practice. We also tend to believe that our past experiences are all-controlling-that simply because we've always acted in a certain way, we will always continue to act that way. But that's not true either. It's only another example of an incorrect belief system.
In life, each of us will progress at a rate of speed that only we are capable of determining. Regardless of how encouraging or discouraging others may be, no one else is accountable for the speed with which we progress or for the pain that we bring upon ourselves because of poor choices. Fortunately, there are no such things as negative experiences; there are only experiences that serve to strengthen, develop, and clarify the person we really are. Nothing is wasted, regardless of what we have come to believe.
It all starts with how we define ourselves. When it comes to our natural tendencies or predispositions, our self-made definitions are powerful. We are either the victim or the victor. Victims allow themselves to be controlled by their natural tendencies and predispositions. Victors manage them by choosing to replace their natural predispositions with a course of self-mastery, self-discipline, and reliance upon correct principles. Victors also seek out the help they need to succeed.
Self-mastery, self-discipline, reliance upon correct principles, and seeking out help are ultimately the essential building blocks of happiness. So, invest in yourself. Be victorious! After all, you're exchanging a day of your life for today.
Portals of Discovery
If we have everything but a sense of who we really are, we have nothing. And yet, if we have nothing but a sense of who we really are, we really have everything.
Unfortunately, sometimes we get lost while trying to discover who we really are. If we can keep the big picture in mind-that we're in this world to get a body, gain experience, and touch the lives of those around us-then everything else becomes manageable. In other words, we're not broken simply because we're not yet perfect.
In fact, life appears to be orchestrated in such a manner that even our weaknesses, inabilities, limitations, and disabilities enable us to touch the lives of those around us in ways that only we can. Because of their impact upon us, our problems force us to redefine ourselves. In essence, they are our portals of discovery.
I've come to believe that Heavenly Father is intimately involved in our life process, and that things are so well coordinated that he has already prepared others to answer prayers we haven't even prayed yet. He knows what our needs are now, and he knows what they will be in the future. He has prepared others to be brought into our lives to touch our spirits, strengthen us, and fill the void that we sometimes feel. The most exciting part of this process is that you're in the midst of becoming one of these "tour guides" yourself.
The recovery process you're going through right now is much bigger than you are, and it has a much greater significance than the pain of your own personal issues. As a result of the choices you're making, changes will occur. Your life and the lives of those with whom you are involved will never be the same. With the insight, understanding, and wisdom that will develop from this experience, and with the knowledge of tools and techniques that you'll learn, you'll find solutions to your problems, and you'll be brought into the lives of others in a manner that will replenish both your energy and theirs.
We really do have a worth that is far beyond our mortal ability to fully comprehend. Because it's so far beyond us, its effect will be to serve as a guiding beacon that will quietly, but most assuredly, lead us home.
Creating a New Belief in Ourselves
All that we've lived through and had experience with in the past has colored our perception of who and what we are in the present. But remember, it's only a perception of who we are and not who we really are. In the past, we may have felt that we had very little choice in these matters. The future is different. The future is ours, and the future starts now!
Unfortunately, because of the patterns of the past, some people believe that it is impossible to alter old belief systems. Even if it were possible to change these patterns, a unique set of conditions must be in place before these individuals would consider taking corrective measures.
The fact is that these perceptions are not immutable or unalterable, and they will transform us, but only when we are prepared to accept such changes. It's also true that we begin to believe in ourselves, even when things are difficult-not only in the sunlight, where every detail is clear and every probability has been calculated, but also in the dark, where uncertainty and fear serve as the incentives that generate change. This change triggers a developmental process that results in experiences; new experiences lead to expansion; expansion leads to confidence; and confidence leads to clarity. Such a process is never easy, but it's always worth it. These principles serve as a foundation for a new reality, and they allow natural laws to form the basis of this new perception. In this manner, a new future will begin to rise from the ashes of the painful past.
As a result, we begin to realize that we can be the choice we wish to make. We can become what we search for. We can create the transformation from what we were to what we are capable of becoming. We can rise above the fears that seek to immobilize us. We can progress toward what we aspire to be. We can adapt to the ideals we search for. We can revise the limitations that may have controlled us. We can harness the pain and grow beyond it. We can bridle our courage to defeat uncertainty. We can formulate new methods to overcome confusion. We can attune ourselves to the positive forces in life. We can redesign our old, imperfect perception of who we are as we envision what we dream we can become. We can recruit the help of caring individuals to assist us in rising above our past. We can synchronize what we previously thought was hopelessly disorganized, and we can generate a metamorphosis that will enable us to rise to previously unexpected levels of achievement. From an eternal perspective, we can accept nothing less!
1. Hinckley, "The Environment of Our Homes," 3.