Tag Archives: self-improvement

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What arises?

October 29, 2018
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

As negative feelings arise the distance between G-d and us widens.  G-d is our shadow; as we respond to Him He in turn reacts back.  Hence, it is essential to be true with ourselves, talk with honesty to G-d and use the mode of communication called Tefillah as an opportunity to ‘clear the air’ and make peace with our Creator.

Feel & heal exercise of the day

Spend a few moments discussing one issue with G-d that causes you anguish. Begin the process of letting go.

Healing Emuna

October 24, 2018
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

There is a deep Kabbalistic teaching that distance causes G-d’s blessings to come down in the form of din (judgment) since we are not properly aligned with our Creator’s will and cannot receive His bountiful goodness in its correct form. One of the ways to align ‘our form’ with our ‘G-dly form’ is by internalizing the message that all that G-d does is for the very best.

Feel & heal exercise of the day

Repeat the following three times in a row, while taking three deep healing breaths and placing your right hand in the center of your chest and your left hand over your right:

“G-d’s love is eternal. He is taking care of all my needs day in and day out for my very best”

Healing Discontent

October 23, 2018
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

Living with discontent causes us to perform mitzvot with a heavy heart as though it is a great burden and sacrifice. The Torah teaches that G-d wants our heart, our emotional bond and intent. We cannot bury our true feelings of resentment since G-d knows our innards; all is known before Him.

Feel & heal exercise of the day

Aask yourself “Why am I not happy in life” ~ address only the first thing that comes to mind, otherwise, we might be here all day Take 3 deep breaths while repeating the following “G-d loves me. He is taking care of all my needs.”

Ready for Change?

July 12, 2017
Orit Esther Riter

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BS’D

We are in this world to change; often that’s challenging and even scary. Rav Kook ztk’l teaches that change is a grounds for positivity since it draws a picture of movement to a better place. Even so, change does mean going into the unknown; something that requires courage. Change also involves giving up something in order to acquire something new; a shedding of the old in place of something different.

Yet Torah requires and instructs us to change; it is one of the greatest challenges to stand strong and admit we must adjust our ways for the sake of self-improvement and further growth. We should learn from the past and apply this wisdom to transform our current reality.

For instance, upon learning the harmful impact stress has on our emotional, spiritual and physical health we should place greater emphasis to deflect it from our lives. It is not enough to simply say “I wish I could change”; we need to work to fix it with greater zeal. We can take 3 minutes a day to deeply breathe in emuna and positivity while exhaling toxic negativity. We can imagine blowing up a balloon and place our anxiety in it and watch it drift away. There are endless techniques to choose from.

When there is a will there is way – that is a Jewish axiom to apply prior to any effort. Check how much you really want to alter your situation. Before attempting to change visualize how great it will be once you reach your goal B’H and pump yourself with exciting energy.

Uninspired

June 21, 2017
Orit Esther Riter

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BS’D

How do we awaken enthusiasm in our avodat Hashem? It is common to be drawn down by routine. How do we remain inspired? Connected? Chazal offers some practical insights.

Though our hearts may not be fully enthused to do a mitzvah, as the Nike commercial goes, ‘Just do it!!’ We learn this trait from Avraham Avinu ztk’l when he rose early in the morning to perform Hashem’s command. When the opportunity rises to be involved in performing a mitzvah, see it as an invitation from Hashem, a one-time call just for you! Just do it!

Beware of the negative trait of laziness. Rav Luzzatto ztk’l in his famous book ‘Path of the Just’ teaches that mankind is controlled by the force of gravity, pulling him down into a state of heaviness. It is ‘natural’ to feel ‘heavy’ and ‘weighed down’; it is beyond our control. However we aren’t to surrender to our natural tendencies but to battle and refine them.

The voice of the evil inclination shouts “What! Again you’re doing a mitzvah?!” He attempts to rob the zest and joy out of our good deeds. He continues to invade our mind by telling us, “You’re tired, why bother? It makes no difference.” Remain oblivious to this scheming tactic of the yetzer hara. Pull yourself up and get moving.

Lastly, Chazal teach we are allotted a quota of energy in our lives. When we over-extend our strength towards the pursuit of comforts and worldly pleasures, we deplete ourselves from the vitality needed to invest in our spiritual pursuits. Let’s use our energy wisely

A Change of Perspective

June 20, 2017
Orit Esther Riter

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BS’D

One day the old water carrier passed by the study hall with his pails. Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov ztk’l (“Master of the Good Name”) often stood outside the front door and talked with his disciples. Whenever he saw the water carrier, he interrupted their conversation and would ask him, “Berel, my good man, how are you doing today?” The water carrier would usually offer a polite response, “Baruch Hashem, thank G‑d!” and continue on his way.

But one day the water carrier had a look of melancholy in his face. “Rebbe, it’s nice of you to ask a poor man, but how should I feel? Not good! No! Day in and day out I carry these heavy pails. My back hurts, I am getting older, you know . . . My boots are in tatters, but I have no money for new ones. My family is large. The burden is too much. My children need food, shoes and clothes, and . . . ach, it’s too much to even begin talking about . . . And those new houses at the end of the town want more and more water, and they are built up on the slope of the hill, and the water is so heavy, and I am so tired, so very tired . . .” And with a sigh he picked up his pails and walked away dragging his feet, with a twisted back and bent shoulders. He did not look back. The Baal Shem Tov said nothing.

A few days later the Baal Shem Tov again stood in front of the synagogue with his students when the water carrier passed by. “Berel, good to see you, how are you today?” The water carrier stood still. He beamed. “Baruch Hashem, Rebbe, I am doing fine. I have work, so I earn money to feed my family. I am blessed, because I have a large family, so many sweet children … I am happy that I can buy them food to eat and pay their teachers. And those new houses they recently built at the hill need a lot of water, that’s extra income for me. Baruch Hashem! Thank you for asking a simple man how he is doing. Baruch Hashem, G‑d is good to me!”

The Baal Shem Tov smiled and blessed him with some encouraging words. The water carrier lifted his heavy buckets and went joyfully on his way, and the water in his pails reflected the light of the sun.

The Baal Shem Tov’s disciples were puzzled. Why was the old water carrier so much happier all of a sudden, with his same pair of tattered boots and his same old pails of water?

The Master of the Good Name looked at his disciples and knew what they were thinking. “Did you hear what Berel just said?” he asked them. “He said Baruch Hashem, thank G‑d, because he knows that all blessings and everything else comes from G‑d. A few days ago he did not seem to remember that, he did not thank G‑d for his lot, so he was depressed. Even when things are difficult, there is always so much to be thankful for, so you praise and thank G‑d. You acknowledge that all you receive is from G‑d, and you feel better. Berel’s pails are as heavy today as they were a few days ago, and he is still poor, but his perspective has changed. Now he sees what is important and what is not, and he is very aware of the One who provides him with everything he has. As a result, he is happy and content.”

Feel Great!

May 16, 2017
Orit Esther Riter

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BS’D

One of the most exhilarating moments in life is when you set yourself to make a change and actually do it. At that moment you feel empowered; you feel great!

Denial leads to inaction. Change begins by admitting I need to improve; be honest and say I need to change. So now what? According to the measure of willpower so too will you succeed – strengthen your resolve and make it your mission.

It begins with one step, the hardest step – to make the decision to change. Why is it the hardest? Since it is most bitter to say “I need to change”; not my neighbor, not my Mother, not my spouse – but me!

That inner sense that something has got to change and that something is me is a powerful feeling that puts us to action. It generally follows a feeling of discomfort; maybe even a touch inner ‘yuckiness’. Yet from bitterness comes sweetness.

Let’s not confuse bitterness with sadness. It is a sense of uneasiness that gives birth to change – it propels us to leave our current place and move elsewhere. If bitterness is left unaddressed it turns into heaviness, guilt and feelings of inadequacy; a feeling of closure and isolation.

Recognize it and use it to your benefit; set yourself into new motion and feel great about it!

I Feel Good… Part I

November 29, 2016
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

Often, those suffering from low self-esteem apply self-pity as a ‘balm’ to their wounds. In truth, statements like, “Nobody cares about me” or “I never have time for myself” are actually a cry for attention. Admittedly, each person must nourish themselves first and not surrender themselves to the point where they feel they are being taken advantage of. However, if we have filled up on enough positive energy and self-attention we should be able to give to others from a position of strength and not from self-pity or negativity.

A question often arises as to how much chesed we should be doing. The key to the answer is self-awareness. Knowing our limitations and capabilities is the best indicator of how much or how little chesed we should be doing, both in and outside of the house. Of course, there will be times we are required to over-extend ourselves and times when we feel we can give less. However, generally we must look within and explore our boundaries and limitation. We should not be driven by impulse. Nor should we undertake a chesed in order to be praised by others. We must delve within and ensure we are not to be doing chesed for the sake of admiration. Investing sufficient thought into the extent of our limits is a great contribution towards, self-respect, self-awareness and ultimately self-esteem.

Some with poor self-worth have a difficult time accepting compliments. Rejecting complements may occur because they do not think of themselves as worthy. Alternatively, it may occur because they wish to hear another compliment after they dismiss the first. Or perhaps they want others to think how humble they are? Regardless of the reason, rejecting a compliment causes us to be unfair to both ourselves and the one handing out the compliment.

Ultimately, low self-worth is tied to a low level of emuna. In failing to accept a compliment or undertake chesed for the wrong reasons, we are failing to recognize Hashem in the picture. With regard to chesed, complaining of being taken advantage of is failing to recognize that it is Hashem sending us the chesed opportunity, thereby enabling us to increase our self-knowledge and awareness. With regard to complements, by rejecting a compliment directing at His creation, we are indirectly rejecting Him. Furthermore, we are failing to recognize that He sends us messages via the events and people in our lives.

He constantly showers us with gifts and ‘kind words’ given to us through His many emissaries. It is a great chesed to allow another to share warm words and acts of kindness. Hashen wants us to feel cherished by Him, experience pleasure and feel His closeness. By accepting these compliments we are acting as a kli to accepting Hashem’s bracha.

Self-Worth vs. Arrogance

November 9, 2016
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

A common misconception is that self-esteem equals arrogance. Nothing could be further from the truth. A healthy dose of self-esteem is borne out of the understanding that each Jewish person possesses unique value and G-duly character traits. This understanding enables us to serve Hashem with a full heart and to spiritually grow.

The key to healthy self-confidence is to appreciate that we all harbor a G-dly spark within us. This knowledge enables us to appreciate one’s worth and stay focused on one’s capabilities, while always remembering that Hashem created us as imperfect beings on a journey towards excellence. Self-esteem is based on our honest assessment of our current spiritual location while believing that we are capable of achieving more because of our innate, G-dly potential.

Arrogance is the false sense of being greater than other people. In contrast, self-esteem goes hand in hand with humility since with self-esteem we realize that our true worth is only from and due to our connection to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. We are humbled; knowing that all our talents, wisdom and actually every breath we take comes directly from the Source of life. This awareness instills in us the recognition that we are no better (or worse) than anyone else. Everyone is equal because we all come from the same Source.

Everything we have is a gift which can be taken away at any time. We are gifted with exactly what we need to fulfill our own unique, specific mission, to co-partner with Hashem in perfecting this world. Hashem does not make mistakes. He deliberately crafted us, instilling within us all the requirements we need in order to fulfill this unique purpose. Thus we are each different, important, special and necessary. And each one of us has the potential to be great.

Hashem Speaks

November 2, 2016
Orit Esther Riter

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BS’D

Hashem communicates to us through the circumstances of our lives. Our individual life circumstances reveal our tikkun – those difficult and repetitive challenges which we must embrace and then learn to complete. Through our daily challenges, Hashem instructs us as to how to grow wiser, stronger and assume responsibility for our choices.

We can choose to view our repeated and disproportionate emotional responses as indicators of the precise areas in our lives that we need to improve.

Our emotional buttons being pressed are really our souls calling out for us to work on this area of our lives. Hashem is presenting us with unique opportunities that enable us to reach parts of our nefesh that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.

In order to complete our tikkun and undertake the mitzvot properly, we require self-awareness. For instance, we must learn what annoys us and why, what triggers our defenses, and what are our true motives.

The following five practical ways may help us increase self-awareness and shed any pretense:

  • Get to know yourself by zooming into your true life’s purpose, strengths and weaknesses. Our weaknesses need to be identified and embraced before they can be worked on.
  • Make a commitment to face the truth despite discomfort and avoid the temptation of excuses (used in order to avoid short-term pain)
  • Contemplate and reflect on behavioral patterns and emotional responses
  • Be patient with yourself and the process
  • Be open and willing to accept your weaknesses, to be understanding of yourself and therefore of others

Difficult and painful events offer the chance for us to grow emotionally into new people. We each have the potential to have an ‘old’ me and a ‘new’ me – that is, to create a new person by growing through an experience.  Each experience provides us with the opportunity to create new thoughts, speech and actions (and/or reactions), and consequently to reveal another aspect of our soul.

Though this process is not easy, we must have emuna to know that eventually we will be successful at growing to the point where we feel at peace with ourselves on the inside. This internal shift will B”H enable us to also live a genuine Torah life on the outside.

 

 

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