Live By Design

by | Aug 5, 2019 | Articles

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; And the wisdom to know the difference.  – Serenity Prayer

As I began learning about personal empowerment, I frequently thought about the famous first paragraph of the Serenity Prayer because I now appreciated the significance of that last line: The wisdom to know the difference.

The wisdom to know the difference between what I can’t change – and what I can!

This past year has been a journey for me as I’ve learned more about the power Hashem gave every one of us to take charge of our destiny and live life by design rather than by default. We all experience struggle and hardship in our lives, so how should we respond to those challenges? The answer to that question depends on the type of challenge we’re dealing with. Some hardships are a decree from heaven that cannot be altered, and the appropriate response in those situations falls under the category of “acceptance”. But what I want to focus on now are other types of hardships that we treat as if it’s a decree without realizing that we have a lot of power to change our situation.

We might say things like:

“That’s just how it is, life isn’t perfect.”

“Whatever Hashem wants, it’s all for the best.”

“Oy Tzaar Gidul Banim” (the Jewish expression that refers to the expected pain that accompanies raising children)

“Life is so expensive!”

“The shidduch system is stacked against girls!”

While there is truth to all of the above statements, we can overextend them to justify a sense of victimhood and adopt a misplaced acceptance of a negative situation. These types of statements are problematic when they become disempowering beliefs that prevent us from activating our full bechira (i.e., choice) and co-creating miracles in our lives.

And what I want everyone to know is that we are all capable and worthy of co-creating miracles.

So let’s talk about change: The first step towards change is something that we’ve all heard before: Take responsibility for your own predicament.  And sometimes this advice makes a lot of sense because we can easily see how we’re engaging in self-destructive behavior. So in those cases, it’s petty to blame another person, or a flawed system, for our problems. But many times we legitimately view ourselves as a victim of circumstance: a victim of other people’s behavior, a flawed system, or Hashem’s will. In that case, what does it mean to “take responsibility”?

To answer this question, I will share one of the most empowering and clarifying ideas that I’ve ever learned:

Your inner reality affects your outer reality.

In other words, your outer reality will consistently adjust to MATCH your inner reality. This means that the most powerful thing you can do to change your life is to change your inner reality! What constitutes our inner reality? It is anything under the broad categories of thoughts and emotions. It’s our beliefs, perceptions, and perspectives, including how we view ourselves, others, and Hashem. It’s our authentic desires and how we honor and channel them, or disown and suppress them. It’s what we value or don’t value. It’s how we manage our emotional world, including our subconscious emotions. All of these metaphysical realities inside us attract the physical realities that are around us. So basically, we are all a bunch of living breathing MAGNETS, and the only question is ‘What are we pulling in?’.

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The first step to changing our inner reality is to set intentions for what we want; to have a clear desire. In Hebrew, we call it Ratzon, and our Ratzon is foundational to creating our life circumstances. In the Talmud (Makkot 10b) it says: “In the way that a person desires to go, they lead him there”. The Maharsha asks a question on the use of the word ‘they’? Who is ‘they’ that’s helping a person get to where he wants to go”? The Maharsha answers that ’they’ refers to malachim that are created based on the results of a person’s will. Because, as he explains, “every thought you have, every spoken word you utter, and every action you take, creates for you malachim and THEY then lead you in the direction of your desire.” So what are malachim? Most people typically translate the word malachim as “angels”, but the word angel doesn’t explain much. The Hebrew word malachim more literally translates as “messengers”, and they are spiritual forces that act as a conduit, or a channel, for the flow of Divine energy. So to summarize, our thoughts, speech, and actions, which are all a direct result of our ratzon, create for us forces of energy, or channels of Divine influence, which lead us in the direction of our desires.

As we can see, Hashem set up the world in such a way that, to a large extent, we can get what we want (for good or for bad). And our inner world, our desires, beliefs, thoughts, and emotions, are tremendously powerful in this process. Our inner world can press the accelerator towards our desires or they can press the brake pedal on our desires. This means that we can really want something, and pray and beg for what we want, without realizing that our inner world may be pushing us in the opposite direction.

But it’s not always the usual suspects that are creating problems for us. For example, we know that character traits such as anger, jealousy, and pessimism are self-destructive. But sometimes the problem is not so obvious. Sometimes we need to go deeper.

Maybe I need to be more assertive or develop healthier boundaries in my relationships.

Perhaps I need to work on my self-esteem because my lack of self-worth is blocking me from being a vessel to receive more blessings. 

Instead of trying to convince myself to be ‘sameach bechelko’ (happy with my lot), I can instead raise my standards because my standards are too low.

In addition to having faith and doing my usual hishtadlus (i.e., effort) to make a good living, perhaps I could develop a better understanding of the nature of money and how money operates – so that I can work smarter and not spin my wheels?

Maybe my problems with my children are not simply ‘min hashamayim’ (from Heaven) but rather due to a flaw in me that is extending outwards to them.

Perhaps fear is preventing me from taking risks or rocking the boat. Similarly, anxiety and depression, even if not on a clinical level, creates inner turmoil that can cause a lot of challenges in our outer reality.

Sometimes we need to better differentiate between being supportive versus being an enabler. And other times we need to better differentiate between being empowered versus being controlling.

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So how do we know what to do? Where do we go from here? Answering this question is a big topic and I plan to address these issues more in depth in the future. But for now, I want to end with one last thought that is foundational to this work: We need Hashem. Hashem is a crucial partner in your Geula journey and you partner with Him by talking to Him. Ask Hashem for guidance in nurturing the right desires and for support and direction to achieve your goals. Pray to be an open vessel that can receive all the messages, opportunities, support, and wisdom that Hashem wants to give you – because He can literally throw help at you from every direction, but if you are not an open vessel to receive, it’s all for naught. Hashem is on your side and wants to help you, but Hashem only goes where He is invited. So invite Him in and then watch miracles unfold.

*To learn more about the powers that Hashem gave us to co-create our reality, watch my story in Geula Mindset Part 2: Breaking Free! and/or take a deep dive in learning by joining Soul Powers.