We often feel that someone is trying to hurt us. Sometimes we can confirm those feelings with things that they did to us, facts. And sometimes it’s only something subjective that we imagined that has no real basis, it’s from the ‘power of imagination’ as Rabbi Nachman of Breslev calls it.
Naturally if we were raised with a calm upbringing with a loving family which is protective and caring we will perceive the world as a friendly safe place, we’ll be optimistic and find it easier to make friends. But if we had a troubled childhood and grew up with pain, difficulties and disappointments then life will seem to be a struggle to survive where we must beware of many potential dangers.
So without a doubt a person with that loving upbringing has a head start in life compared to someone who was raised in a challenging environment full of disappointments. But in my work as a psychotherapist I was surprised to find that people who faced opposition and bitterness in life were more determined with higher motivation to succeed and create a life happier than what they had as children. It comes out the pampered children grew up and had more difficulty facing life’s challenges.
I reached the conclusion that the difficulty that people had in their childhood actually strengthened them and turned them into people with a strong desire to break through the barriers of their youth. They go on to achieve amazing accomplishments in the future on their own and there’s nothing that stands in the way of the will.
Every Jew must go down a path in life G-d designed specifically for him to reach his purpose and mission he came to this world for. A major tool to enable us to reach this goal is “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Everyone can recite this verse that entreats us to love and worry about our friend just as we love ourselves. The problem is how many people love themselves? Are we really connected to our own selves? We come down on ourselves mercilessly many times a day. We shrink our successes and dislike what we see when looking in the mirror. So it’s understandable we may perceive that others are trying to harm us pushing all our buttons…we don’t even love ourselves! So we should understand that other people may just be mirroring how we treat ourselves!
It doesn’t matter which circumstances a person was born into rather where he wants to get. The way to get to ‘your neighbor’ is first to connect with ‘yourself’. When we learn to accept, value and love ourselves, we can begin to feel similar feelings of empowerment from others too for they will mirror how you feel about yourself.