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Davis Journal

Our sphere of influence

Mar 28, 2024 08:47AM ● By John Waterbury
In life, excellence is not an accident, and success does not just happen.  They are the result of three things: understanding who we are, realizing how we got to this point, and taking responsibility for choosing our course in life.  Sometimes it almost seems to be impossible for this to happen. In fact, the odds really are against us as we mistakenly interpret our genetic tendencies and environmental factors as evidence of our “brokenness” and lack of worth. Unfortunately, the resulting chaos of this misinterpretation alters our thinking patterns and distorts our perception. Even worse, we allow it to define our personal limits, confuse our interpersonal boundaries, and negatively impact the expectations that we set, both for ourselves and others. It’s no wonder that life may seem to be hopelessly disarrayed.
This imperfect, ephemeral equation serves as the bricks and mortar of our reality, often resulting in perceived limitations that are thought to be unalterable and immutable. The fact that these limitations are inaccurate and are based on faulty information is irrelevant. They are our reality! For we can only accomplish what we believe we can, we can only become what we think we are, and we can only be what we repeatedly do.
We get used to seeing ourselves in certain ways, and we tend to believe that our view is correct. But in many cases, our perception is far from correct. As a result, our old ways of thinking about ourselves make it difficult to grow beyond our incorrect perceptions, and we become overwhelmed by what we could have been, or should have been, or might have been. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Our old problems were never meant to be permanent, our old mistakes were never meant to destroy, and our old patterns were never meant to stop our progression. They were meant to serve as a foundation, to learn from, to build upon, and to rise above. As we do so, our natural gifts and abilities become enhanced, our vision expands, and we begin to understand the significance of our sphere of influence.
In this manner, lessons are learned that result in enhanced clarity, expanded insight, and increased personal discovery.  And since we learn most effectively from those things that we personally discover, these challenges actually enable us to outgrow our old perceptions. They make it possible for us to redefine ourselves.  They make it possible…to be what we might have been.
Now, when it comes to our sphere of influence, it’s important that we keep our thoughts and feelings in balance. And with that piece of philosophy as our foundation, it is equally important to keep life in balance. Specifically, the single word “Don’t” is essential as we create rules and principles that will allow a shift in our perception. And while our perception is meant to be positive and uplifting, nothing is positive all the time.  
The following principles maintain a balance in positive and negative influences, and serve as guidelines for a life well managed.  However, there is more to our lives than simply expecting positive influences to guide our lives.  Specifically, positive principles are successful in maintaining a positive outlook on direction, awareness, and balance in life.  But what I’m referring to is that we can’t blindly move forward as we manage our lives, so don’t believe everything you think. The following principles are prerequisites to successfully consider all decisions and life management decisions.  
Don’t believe everything you think.  Even though we tend to believe that our thoughts are accurate, they are often based on faulty assumptions. Since we are constantly changing and growing, many of our old limitations are just that: old and limiting. Don’t hesitate to challenge them.
Don’t try to fix everything that’s broken. Many problems will resolve themselves if we’re patient enough. Some problems are meant to change our course. Some are meant to change us. Problems are always purposeful. Give time, time.
Don’t be controlled by your fears. Fears are like lights on our dashboard. They indicate that action must be taken. Since it’s impossible to outrun our fears, decide to face them and embrace them.  As we do so, we’ll recognize that we’re stronger than they are.
Don’t be controlled by what you feel.  Since feelings are just chemicals, we can decide to be stronger than what we feel. We can do what needs to be done no matter how we feel. And though we are never very far from our old programming, we can grow beyond our old patterns.
Don’t define yourself by your past.  Our future is more than the sum of our mistakes. We are more than our natural tendencies, we’re stronger than our natural inclinations, and we have greater capacities than our natural predispositions.
Don’t settle for what’s within your reach. Life is a series of soul-stretching experiences. And once we’re stretched, we never return to our original dimensions. Not only should our reach exceed our grasp, but if we’re willing, it can also exceed our past. 
Don’t define yourself by someone else’s perception. We are unique, and our reason for being is equally unique. All that we’ve been through in the past, and all that we’re going through now, are part of our preparation. Nothing is wasted. Everything is preparatory.  
And finally, Oprah wrote: That which is happening to us, is happening for us (end quote).  
In managing life and enduring to the end, we are encouraged to be courageous. But true courage does not always mean being stronger, or faster, or bigger. Sometimes it simply means quietly doing what needs to be done, again and again. It is the tired voice at the end of the day, saying, “Tomorrow, I will try again.”
Nothing changes if nothing changes. But pain only has the power we give it, and we learn from it.  And that power can be learned from, and risen above. No problem will destroy every part of our lives, unless we give it power to do so.
And finally, at least for the time being, if you don’t want to slip, don’t walk in slippery places. In this manner, insights develop, and confidence leads to increased knowledge of options, alternatives, and choices. 

John Waterbury is a retired Clinical Mental Health Counselor who has lived in Utah since 1984 when he moved to Bountiful with his wife and four children. Since then, he has written a weekly column for several years for the Davis County Clipper titled “The Dear John Letters” which was also used throughout the intermountain West focusing on addiction and mental health problems. This new column will focus on mental health and life management issues.