Lately I've been feeling totally over-programmed like a human computer with too little RAM to accomplish what it needs to do. There seem to be more chores in my schedule than there are hours in a day to get them done.
My 'logical' mind tells me that I am either falling behind because there is something wrong with me or because my workload is objectively too large.
Not having nursed on the Garden of Emuna as a child my 'natural inclination', during times of stress, is to compare myself to other people.
I usually 'like' to compare myself with some idealized superman figure such as Rebbe Noson of Breslev, the main student of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev. How was it, I ask myself, that Reb Noson was able to make every second of the day count and he accomplished so much in his lifetime? How was it that He got up at midnight; that he learned the whole Torah in depth and reviewed it many times; that he wrote volumes of original ideas on Rebbe Nachman's Torahs and volumes of letters to his son; that he was an adviser to many; that he had regular lengthy meetings with Rebbe Nachman; that he prayed for long periods; and that he still had the time and patience to be present when his children returned from school; to sit with them; speak with them; eat with them; pray with them and put them to sleep?
The evil inclination is happy with me comparing myself to Rebbe Noson. If I fall into this trap, it is certain to decrease my joy and leave me feeling frustrated and inadequate. As I strain to overcome inertia and not fall further behind schedule I become more and more alienated from my family, from myself and from Hashem.
I grew up thinking that multi-tasking was the only way to go. Boy was I wrong. Not even a computer can multi-task. Only Hashem can multi-task without developing stress-related symptoms. I confess to you that life does not go well for me when I try to be Hashem.
Hashem gives us a world of 'freedom' and over-choice to force us to realize our limitations and humbly accept His Will to do one task at a time. Just try to keep up with every friend, relative and teacher you ever had on facebook - see how long that will last. Good luck being there for your kids and household while your friends from first grade keep calling to you from the other room. It is Crazy!
NO. When I am stressed out, it's a clear sign that I am too involved with myself. My stress can come from thinking that I do not have enough money, honor or pleasure in my life and that if I run short on any of these I will not survive. My stress can also come from the even more ridiculous game of looking for approval from my evil inclination who is telling me that I'm inadequate and so I am compelled to show him that I am not.
All this is so exhausting. It makes you want to sleep.
Aye, but Reb Noson hardly slept at all?
Well the chances are good that you and I could also do with less sleep if we retired from fighting with our evil inclinations. Reb Noson simply planned his work and worked his plan in the best way he could and left the rest to Hashem. He made himself deaf to the whispering doubts that attack us all day long. If we would do the same, we would get the same results that he did. That is a promise from Rebbe Nachman himself!
Reb Noson also spared himself the stress of comparing himself to other people. What possible connection could there be between my purpose in life and another person's purpose in life? I do my best when I expect the best. The more I look for the good, the more I find it. The more I believe I can make Hashem 'happy' the more He shows me that I can.
Tzaddikim have one speed and that's forward - they don't look back. He wakes up in the morning unburdened with yesterday's packages on his shoulders. He likewise has no worries about tomorrow. He simply prays before acting and thanks Hashem for everything that comes his way. He is flexible and light on his feet because Hashem has freed him from the burden of 'self.' Hashem sends protection, strength and productivity to those who serve Him and not themselves.
There are no 'rules' for a spiritual peak performer. He has discarded logic and abstains from correlations. He is free from performance anxiety because he will be very satisfied with whatever he is able to achieve. He does not worry about finishing on time or being criticized because he is completely confident that Hashem will help him to do his best.
So practically speaking, is there at least one bit of advice that I can use to 'perform' better when I feel over-programmed? I asked myself this question recently and I remembered what a good friend of mine told me works wonders for him. I tried it on myself and it works like a charm.
I just thought about my Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Arush, and held his image firmly in mind.
Lately I have been using this for all kinds of challenges and it has not failed me. As far as I know, no one has copyrighted it yet. Why not give it a try?
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Dr. Zev Ballen, Psy.D. has been a practicing psychotherapist for more than 30 years. He is the founder and developer of Emuna Therapy, a faith-based method of counseling based exclusively on the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush. Dr. Zev has the endorsements of Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Rabbi Yitzchok Fagelstock, Rabbi Shalom Arush, and Rabbi Lazer Brody. You can see Dr. Zev's live video broadcast every Wednesday at 5pm Israel time here on breslev.co.il. You can write in with questions to Dr. Zev at: email@example.com. You can call him at: 845-362-8600 (US) or 054-840-9499 (Israel). Dr. Zev resides in Jerusalem, with his family, where he learns in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time private practice. You're also welcome to visit Dr. Zev's personal blog, Emuna Therapy.