“How Can I Stop Being So Hard on Myself?”

“I wanted to know if it’s at all possible to clean the heart of guilt pangs for all the mistakes I made over this past Holiday. No one in my family was spared the wrath of my nerves and I feel pretty bad about it. How can I repair or at least minimize the damage?”

Dear Beloved Woman,

I see what you wrote and I want to calm your tortured soul by telling you that everything you wrote me points to one thing; that you are human! As the holiday vacation concludes it is worthwhile to pay attention to ourselves and give compliments to the one solely responsible for:

Feeding little mouths and big ones too around the clock,

Successful and unsuccessful attempts to be the court jester and engage reluctant participants who said “I’m bored” the whole time,

Gathering, cleaning and organizing chaos after chaos,

Endless creativity in varied meal preparation throughout the holiday and Shabbat,

Don’t forget you also needed to take care of your big child, your husband who hoped things would work a certain way but didn’t,

Doing mid-air somersaults to make your parents, in laws and the entire family happy,

The dizzying intensity of getting everyone happily seated in the sukkah,

This is only a partial list of the extreme sport you’ve been doing these past few months.

Now after bringing a very partial list of things that women had to do, tell me; do you think there’s a woman on earth that didn’t reach hysterics, or lose it, say things they later regretted, or erupt like a volcano? The Talmud says that “G-d doesn’t come with criticism to his creations” for he knows they made of dust. So why shouldn’t we remember that too and stop demanding ourselves to be shiny smiley angels all of the time? We obviously can’t throw all our structure to abandon and do what we want but we can be kind and loving to ourselves when we reevaluate and recalculate where we want to be going with our lives.

We have no dispensation allowing us to fall into despair and depression no matter how many times we failed and no matter how deep we’ve fallen. So if we have guilt pangs along with feeling lowly it’s a sign the evil inclination is doing his thing on us and enjoying our depression and sadness. So it’s true we resolved not to get angry, hit, roar or shout, lose control or answer back in kind but our actions didn’t live up to our resolutions. And it’s true we ended up doing the exact opposite of what we wanted to. But the only conclusion we need to arrive at is that we have work to do improving ourselves and that’s exactly why we’re here in this world!

Now I’d like to give you a different take on this….

In psychology there’s a concept called ‘warped thinking’. There are many types of warped thinking, one of which is “all or nothing” which gives us an extreme view of things. For example: “Success is not ever getting angry and if I got angry for something all the time and effort spent not being angry is worthless!” Sounds familiar? How about this example: “I promised myself not to get dragged into situations I don’t want to be in and I was careful most of the time. But then the dam burst and I was so there in the place I promised I would be in that I feel like a hypocrite as if all my efforts were one big bluff because the fact of the matter is I was back in the same old place as before.”

My precious friend, you should know that every time you overcame something during this long and trying period you elevated entire worlds with your deeds, your own world and that of all of creation! Every moment you kept silent from saying what was on the tip of your tongue you supported all of creation, as our sages said: “The world doesn’t exist only in merit of those who stop their mouth during a dispute as the verse says “The world hangs on naught”. Naught is the same word as holding back in Hebrew.

Every moment of self-control made the world a better place, moments of truth that stand in your merit for yourself and the nation of Israel. On the other hand every moment of failure shows that you are human and that’s OKAY! There’s only ONE that is perfect, the Creator that placed us here to work moment by moment, stage after stage to repair our character and earn eternal reward with toil and honesty. It’s precisely for this we received the gift of life…

So what remains for me to tell you is that now is the time to let go of the depressing baggage of guilt that saddens you and start filling yourself with great happiness as you go back to routine. The very fact you so desire good and your intentions are so pure is exactly what will propel you to your goals, as the Talmud says: “He who comes to purify will get divine assistance.” (Yoma 38b)

So I send you a giant ‘Thank You’ to you and all the women of Israel for carrying out your special mission, in moments of success or even more so in moments of failure. After all, the very fact you didn’t quit in the middle and run off to an island far away from it all shows that you are made of tougher stuff and this was a mission only you could fulfill.

I have no doubt that G-d is really greatly proud of you and all of us women and shows us off with pride to His armies in heaven.

Yours, With Love, Chagit Amayev


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