Yesterday, I was watching one of Zev Ballen's VOD's right here on the Breslev Israel website, where he was talking about 'Crazy 8s'.
'Crazy 8' is the negative, repetitive pattern that people can get stuck in when they don't know or understand what is really going on in their relationship. For example, a husband and wife can think they are arguing about money and overspending, but really they are arguing about the fact that the husband treats the wife like a child, or like a servant, and doesn't really include her in his life, and his decision-making process.
Because this couple doesn't really understand why they are arguing, their 'disagreement' is going to intensify, and get even more unpleasant and painful, as they react to perceived slights and hurts that are really just one big, fat misunderstanding.
Dr. Ballen explains that getting caught in a 'Crazy 8' of reinforcing and escalating negativity is so painful, that most people can't stand it for long. Either they bail out, or they crack up, or they look for an escape route called 'Johnny Walker' or 'Marlboro Lights' or 'Prozac' (if they are law-abiding) - and any number of illegal drugs and substances, if they aren't.
I've had a few 'Crazy 8' relationships going on recently, so Dr. Ballen's words really resonated with me. One 'Crazy 8' was because I thought that I was upset because certain people weren't visiting me, or sending my kid birthday cards. But every time I tried to 'fix' that problem, or to talk about it, it made things worse. Why? Because it wasn't really the problem. The problem was that those people didn't care about me, and never had. Having them around more, in my face, ignoring me or treating me badly or taking me completely for granted, would have only made the real underlying issue even more painfully 'live' and hard to bear.
The real answer to the problem was the opposite of what I'd been trying and praying for: less contact, not more!
In another 'Crazy 8', I thought the problem was that me and my husband had gotten more frum, or religiously-observant. But the more I tried to compensate for all the 'anti-religious' vibes by being super-nice, and super-giving, and super-subservient, and super-holy - the more unreasonable their demands got, and the less they seemed to think of me.
The answer, again, was the opposite of what I thought it was: less apologetic for being religious, not more. Less flexible and accommodating, not more.
The latest 'Crazy 8' has been along the same lines: I thought the problem was that certain (very 'frum', very 'Breslev) people just didn't know enough Torah; or hadn't read enough Rav Arush books; or hadn't learnt enough about emuna and Divine Providence. That's why they kept coming out with heretical statements that left me with a nasty taste in my mouth, and a gnawing pit of anxiety in my stomach.
So I tried to discuss more Breslev ideas with them; and have more 'philosophical' debates with them; and tried to explore more of what Rabbenu had taught about concepts like talking to G-d, and thanking for the 'seemingly' bad, as well as the good.
It all backfired.
The more we tried to discuss 'real emuna' issues, the more tense and fraught it became. Why? Because the problem wasn't that they simply didn't know, and were ignorant. The real problem is that they didn't want to know, and had a hidden agenda to try and pull people away from a simple belief in G-d, and His goodness.
Again, the real solution was the opposite to what I'd thought: no discussion, period. Not more.
The whole world seems to be in a big 'Crazy 8' pattern these days. With Iran and its nuclear bomb; and Syria and it's civil war; and the imploding world economy; and escalating food prices; and extreme weather of all stripes, people are still addressing what they think is the issue, instead of dealing with the real problem.
What's the real, fundamental, underlying reason for all the 'Crazy 8' problems we are all having to deal with these days?
It's simple: people think that less G-d will make their lives nicer, and easier, and more comfortable and more enjoyable - but the opposite is true. Less G-d is causing all the difficulties and shortages and wars and strife. If - when - there's more G-d, and more G-d-consciousness in the world, the Crazy 8s will all disappear.
In the meantime, it's getting a bit easier to spot the 'Crazy 8' problems, at least my own ones, and a bit easier to deal with them. I don't have the answers; I don't know the solution. Usually, I don't even really know what the problem is. But G-d does. And as long as I keep going back to Him for help, guidance and advice, sooner or later, it will all become clear.
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Check out Rivka Levy's new book The Happy Workshop based on the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush