Teshuva shouldn’t be scary

If we’re being honest, who doesn’t feel anxious, stressed, and mostly confused about the month of Elul?

You realise that your life will be on the scale, that the King of kings will judge you, that you want to do well, that you need to fix so many of your actions. You think of loads of good resolutions and at the end of it, you just don’t know where to start and where to finish and so you just stay with this anxious feeling like…what will be on Rosh Hashana???

I think we all know that feeling, but it shouldn’t be that scary.

How to get ready for Rosh Hashana

It’s always incredible to me to discover over and over how the Torah is really the source of everything, and that even the science of psychology takes its roots from the Torah.

Psychology explains that all of our thoughts are creating our feelings, and our feelings will change our actions.

But look at this: The Rambam had already taught us that when he explained to us the three steps to do Teshuva!

Here are the three steps to teshuva according to Rambam:
Viduy: Acknowledging our mistakes on an intellectual level (thoughts)
Charata: Regretting our mistakes (feelings)
Lekicha al haatid: Making the decision to change our behavior (actions)

This is exactly the same process as mentioned before: thoughts creating feelings and feelings creating actions.

The first step to Teshuva is to realise that we can become the master of our thinking patterns, and understand that any thought of self-criticism of self-destruction is coming from our yetser harah. We can take the lead of our thinking, deciding that from now on we will only use thinking patterns that will help and empower us. This is called self-talk, talking to ourselves as if we were our own best friends.

Empowering the positive

Teshuva doesn’t only help you fix your mistakes; it empowers all the positive within you.

Viduy: Intellectually realise all the positive traits that you have, all the strengths, abilities, and qualities that are within you. Look at all the blessings that Hashem has given you and acknowledge all of your accomplishments.

Wow, when do we ever take time to do that?

Well, now is the time!

And when you actually realise that Hashem has blessed you with so much strength and blessing, it will awaken the feeling of:

Charata: Emotions of joy, Emunah, confidence, and gratitude because you realize the tremendous amount of love that Hashem has for you.

Lekicha al haatid: These thoughts and emotions will give you the possibility to fulfill your potential, realise your dreams, your mission and infuse your daily Judaism with a huge amount of joy and love for your Creator.

This is a big part of teshuva because the goal of teshuva is to serve Hashem with love and joy.

Removing ourselves from the negative

Now we will use the same process in order to remove the negative.

Viduy: Sometimes it seems to us that we have so many faults and they are so big and terrible.
Take a minute and make a list of things you would like to change within you. You will see it’s probably at most four of five things that you want to improve.

Charata: The pain that we feel when we realise how wrong we were. We were used to having certain habits and certain behaviors, but now you look back and you realise that it hurts. If you fix that habit, your life could be so much better.

We have to be very careful to not fall into sadness, guilt and depression, because these are the tools of the yetser harah! They only make us feel and behave worse.

Lekicha al haatid: It’s now time to act and use the pain as a motor. The best way to go is to pick only one area that you want to change, and check for resources and practical ideas to help you go about it. Go slowly, but make the change!

The takeaway

If there is one thing you have to do before Rosh Hashana, it’s this: Remember that Hashem is your dear and loving Father, that He loves you so much, and that He trusts you and believes in you.

Shana tova umetukah!

Chava Sokol is a Beit Shemesh-based life coach who combines principles of Hasidism and psychology to help people discover their inner strength, and live their life with happiness, joy, and faith in order to realise their dreams. She can be reached at Chava.as@gmail.com

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