18 posts categorized "Character development"

Wrong Expectations

So a friend of mine (Racheli here) was telling me that she feels bad that she's not so into praying for long stretches of time and doing her "womanly" duties, such as baking challah, cooking, etc. Her comment made me think of my post from a few days ago, "High Expectations." 

Here's where I think many of us get a little confused. We all have greatness inside of us that has yet to come out. Hashem knows what we are capable of, and yes, we must believe in ourselves and our strengths. However, there can be a very fine line between being our very best and trying to be someone else. Somewhere along the line, we may lose sight of our strengths and instead focus on building other parts of ourselves that are really not top priority for us.

Take my friend, for example. She's highly in tune with others, very empathetic, has a background in addiction counseling, is a wonderful listener and is very encouraging. She can use her strengths to help others and at the same time, enjoy a successful and fulfilling career. Now I feel like I should get a commission for every new client.

So what if she doesn't like to pray for hours on end? And who said she has to bake challah every week? Sure, these things are great and very admirable. But, that's just not who she is. And that's totally okay.

Hashem has created each one of us with a certain set of strengths and priorities. He made us that way to help us achieve our God-given missions in life. Her mission is to help others; so why should she put extra pressure on herself to do something that's not enjoyable for her? As long as she's following a Torah-observant lifestyle, the extras are icing on the cake. 

Are there areas that you are pressuring yourselves into, just because you feel like that is what's expected of you? Then it's time to re-evaluate. What are your strengths? Your talents? Things that you truly enjoy that are productive? How can you best capitalize on them? Focusing on other areas when they are not necessary to your growth will only lead to disappointment, and that is an endless downward spiral. 

Talk it over with Hashem this Shabbat. I bet you'll come up with some wonderful insights about yourselves, and I'd love to hear them. Shabbat Shalom! 

 


Let it Go

Shavua Tov, everyone! Racheli here, and I can't believe another week has gone by! I'm half asleep, so I hope this post makes sense. Here's a thought that we should all try to work on this week. It's called forgiveness. To me, that's such a non-pc word. I hate it. But a word I hate even more is the word, "sorry," but only if I'm saying it. If my husband says it, I first get more mad at him, because then I have no excuse not to forgive him. And that's the problem.

Let's be honest. Many times we don't want to forgive the other person because we still feel like we have the upper hand. Assuming they're asking for our forgiveness, it means we know they're wrong, and they know they're wrong. Therefore, we feel like we deserve to hold it over their heads. Maybe we would like a little more groveling and some begging? Or is it just me? 

Believe me, I know how hard it is to forgive, especially when our hurt feelings are completely justified. For me, agreeing to forgive someone that wronged me is almost as bad as admitting that I was wrong, even if I wasn't. What's the alternative? Holding a grudge? What good does it do us? Does it make us happier and less stressed? And what if it's family or someone we see every day? Does it make things easier by having to avoid each other, or pretend like the other person doesn't exist? Doesn't that just ruin any fun family get-together? Or is that an oxymoron in itself?

Holding back our forgiveness is one of the evil inclination's favorite tricks. Not only does he manage to rob us of our happiness and weigh us down with anger, stress, and all types of negative emotions, but he manages to take away our blessings at the same time. When we don't forgive another, we are literally shutting off the channels of abundance that should be pouring down on us. It's really like the saying goes: we cut off our nose to spite our face. In the end, we are the ones that lose. 

And, of course, I have to remind you (and me) that lack of forgiveness = lack of emuna. Ultimately, we don't really believe that it was Hashem that sent that person as a messenger of divine justice. That person, for whatever reason, was chosen to do the dirty work. So if we're like the rabid dog that's getting his poisonous slobber all over the stick that he's biting, instead of looking at the person holding the stick, then we've missed the point of the message and soul correction that Hashem was trying to send us. 

At the end of the day, holding a grudge is just not worth it. Let it go. You don't have to be best friends with that person, but just be on amicable terms. You'll feel so much better aftewards, I promise. With Rosh Hashana only a few short weeks away, there is no better time than now to fix our broken relationships. So this week, any time someone hurts, insults, annoys, or bothers the heck out of you, repeat this invaluable mantra to yourself: let it go. 

Wishing you a wonderful week!


The Pep-Talk Selfie

Work on Yourself
The secret of winning coaches and mentors is knowing how to motivate their players, to "fire them up".

Even if you don't have a coach or a mentor, you can fire yourself up with "positive self-talk." Essentially, this is a pep-talk selfie.

Use positive language to describe what you hope to accomplish today, tomorrow and in the future. Tell it to Hashem and pray for it, too.

Unfortunately, people are constantly using statements that cause them to berate themselves, their efforts, or their abilities. What could be greater self-persecution? They need to learn how to turn these around into positive statements instead. That's where "positive self-talk."  You certainly know how to take a selfie with your cellphone camera, right? This is just as easy - give yourself a pep-talk selfie! Make 5 to 10 strong statements that reflect your aspirations and abilities. Share them too with Hashem, and tell Him that you're positive that He hears you and that He'll help you. Do this daily and you'll go a long way.

Don't ever forget though: true personal growth doesn't come easy. In fact, it hurts. But it sure feels great.

 


G-d Despises Bullies

Bully
Bullies should be forewarned: King Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 3:15, "And G-d shall seek the pursued." In other words, Hashem will come to the aid of the bullied and punish the bully when he least expects it. Rabbenu Bachiya explains that this principle is so strong, that Hashem despise bullies so much, that if even a righteous person bullies an evil person, Hashem will come to the aid of the evil person and settle the score with the righteous person (see Rabbenu Bachiya on Vayikra 22:27).

Hashem loves compassion and kindness, yet hates bullying. True faith means loving what Hashem loves and depising what He despises. It is therefore a mitzva to despise bullies and to come to the aid of the bullied, no matter who they are and where they are.


The Facade

Under the mask

People are always trying to impress each other, especially since modern society places such an emphasis on the exterior. That's why clothes, cosmetics and coiffure are so lucrative. If you're looking for a soulmate, focusing on the facade could be a fatal flaw.

Look beyond the mask. Go deeper. Does he or she have a good heart? Don't focus on their appearance. Close your eyes and listen; discern whether you hear a tone of compassion and caring or a tone of egotism and blemished character. If you listen carefully, you'll be able to hear it. Don't be fooled.

Before a date, the best thing to do is to pray for Divine guidance, that Hashem should show you if this person is the right one for you. Don't go it alone - Hashem will be happy to help, just ask Him!


Face of the True Leader

Face of a true leader
The Gemara tells us than in the generation before Moshiach, the face of the generation will be like the face of a dog. What does the Gemara mean?

A dog walks in front of its master, yet always looks back to see where its master wants it to go. In like manner, the leaders of this generation lack conviction and direction, but look over their shoulder to see which way political convenience and convention wants them to go. That certainly is not the face of a true leader.

How do we recognize the face of a true leader? He leads, without looking over his shoulder or behind him. He looks forward and also skyward, to determine the direction Hashem wants him to take.

This week's Torah portion, Lech Lecha, shows us the portrait of a true leader. I write about it in Decisions of a True Leader, one of my two feature articles in this week's stimulating issue of Breslev Israel web magazine.

Imagine walking into the synagogue and it's packed. Someone is sitting in your seat; you ask him politely to let you sit down, but he claims that it's his seat. You show him the name tag on the seat, and now he claims that it's his name! This really happened - check out the amazing story of The Real Shimon Cohen.

Also featured this week:

Rabbi Shalom Arush - The Gift of Enthusiasm

Dr. Zev Ballen - Liars

Racheli Reckles - Abba Knows Best

Rivka Levy - Who Are You, Really

Howard Morton - The Year of Moshiach

Rabbi Dovid Charlop - Mordechai Schwartz

Enjoy, and blessings for a wonderful new week!


Why Not Reach the Top?

Eyes to the Peak

We all have the potential of reaching the top. People fail to reach the top because of two main reasons: first, they don't properly utilize and take advantage of their personal potential. Second, they don't have a plan. To do anything successfully, whether it's becoming a champion athlete, a successful businessperson, an honor student, an efficient homemaker or anything else you desire to do, you need a plan.  

We have a great plan for you. It's called Six Days to the Top.