Working on Ourselves

Since Rosh Chodesh (the first of the month) is always a time for teshuva (contemplating our actions and returning to our true selves and G-d), I found myself davening this morning and reflecting on the idea of “working on ourselves.”

There seems to be a deep rooted belief that the only way to grow and change is to work really hard on fixing yourself and your undesirable behaviors. I don’t disagree that we human beings are here in this world to work and grow, but is it possible that the constructs we built around “work” are actually working against us?

What if understanding how our minds work and the design of our psychological immune system practically help us “work” on ourselves but from a different paradigm?  

What do I mean? Well if my paradigm, the lens through which I view the world, is tainted with the false belief that I am broken, my thinking needs fixing or life’s circumstances are to blame for my bad character, then the work I will need to do to “fix” myself will reflect that false belief.

Imagine there was a big boulder in front of you and your goal was to break it down. You could chisel away bit by bit, piece by piece, exhausting yourself in the process, or you could find and hit the spot that would make the whole boulder crumble. If that was possible, it would take less work and energy while still being effective to reach your goal of knocking it down, right?

So what is the spot when it comes to working on myself? Shifting your paradigm. Seeing the truth that you are not broken, your thinking is not a problem and doesn’t need fixing and there is nothing in life to blame for your behavior.

When we insightfully see that our experience is always and only coming from Thought in the moment, the natural consequence of living in that present moment is that our thought constructs fall away and our behaviors then reflect that truth.

When I am innocently unaware of that truth, my thoughts and behaviors reflect that misunderstanding. The key to finding the spot is a revelation of understanding or misunderstanding that is granted to me as a gift from G-d moment to moment. The moment I forget that everything is coming from G-d, ego is born and my thoughts and behaviors will reflect that state of mind.

The beauty of the system is that our lives are lived moment to moment and it takes but a thought to go from misunderstanding to understanding. In that moment our thoughts, feelings and behaviors change naturally.

Teshuva is about reflection. Beating ourselves up for our mistakes is not teshuva or reflection. Maybe this time of year, as we prepare ourselves for the revelation of the Torah, we can reflect on where our experience of revelation comes from (hint: look within). When we are gifted to see the world through a new paradigm, a new lens, working on ourselves just may begin to look and feel different.

One thought on “Working on Ourselves”

  1. Batsheva Katina says:

    Teshuva is about reflection. Beating ourselves up for our mistakes is not teshuva or reflection.
    This rings so true. Rather then feeling bad about the past, we can use the past as a stepping stool for the future.

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