Perhaps the most frustrating thing is to WANT to change and to find oneself not really making the desired changes. This is most apparent with habits, like overeating, smoking, biting nails and more.
But inside of us, we also want to change our hearts. We might be prone to fear or anger or to being judgmental. We want to change our personality, but in the moment, it feels so futile.
How many times can we tell ourselves to think this way and to remember this when speaking to that person only to find what when we are talking to the person, we get just as triggered as ever. Like wind blowing fire through our bloodstream, we shake, our imagination on fire, our anger stirring. And we had just resolved not to do this? What happened?
It feels so frustrating because we intellectually understand something we are not yet able to transmit to our hearts.
What helps with our hearts is speaking to our heart from our heart. All the reasons in the world will not change our heart.
Our heart believes what it feels and it believes it is necessary for our survival to feel this way, because somehow that will “protect” us or make sure the other person will stop the annoying or threatening action.
So our heart is trying to protect us. It can be very misguided, but it means well! It cares about the “me”, which could include our family, our community, our business, or anything that we perceive we need to survive.
How are we to help our hearts update its database? After all, it is recalling occasions a b c and conversations d e and f. And then there was g h and i.
In fact, it is not an intellectual discussion that is necessary.
Rather, it is an experiential understanding that what has happened is that part of our soul is running after a time and space solution being suggested by the appointed angel in charge of nature, the Soton, whose boss, Hashem, wishes for us to evince our souls from its grip and reattach to Him. Hashem wants to know if we are putting ourselves in the center or Him in the center? Are we learning and integrating Torah, are we asking Him for help in overcoming the natural downward pulls, and are we taking every step to emulate Him?
The heart often can let go of what it thinks will bring it peace and instead put Hashem in the center when we give it a taste of what it feels like to be in Hashem’s embrace instead, an embrace that IS peace and joy. Our mouths are our emunah. When we arouse love for Hashem in our hearts, it fills us like a balloon and we feel somewhat transcendent in the moment. With that feeling also flowing, we can now attempt to speak out loud to the part of our heart that is in pain. We can have compassion on it, understanding every detail of why it feels the way it does, and we can invite it to come and find out for itself where real love comes from, Who really cares for us and Who our survival really depends on. When our hurt heart feels the focused love and warmth on the emotional winds blowing through us, we are hugging it. The longer we hug it, the more likely our whole heart will begin to hold on tightly and calm down.
We have the start of changing our heart.
It may take many efforts over a long time, but we CAN collect the disconnected parts of our soul that have taken refuge in the temptations that our eyes and hearts go after naturally and re-unify our soul to serve Hashem. Our focus at all times is to realize we are a mere membrane here temporarily to do mitzvahs, learn Torah, and reveal Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy in the acts of kindness that we do.
We are here to be selfless so that we can serve Hashem as His Nation, thereby creating eternal identity for ourselves and making it possible for Hashem to be revealed in this world.
The effort we expend can be exhausting. When we try over time and the next time we see the same person, our anger or fear flares, we might feel defeated or that it is hopeless or impossible to change. That would be once again the lovely automated response of the Soton who would really like to keep us as a customer. Success is up to Hashem alone. It makes no difference if we are not yet successful. We are successful when we make the effort to cling to Hashem and unify our soul.
How do we go on? One moment at a time. Eventually, our heart will let go of its fears and broken bad habits. We will have the courage to live believing and trusting that no matter what, our love from Hashem will continue, we will be cared for, and we will be protected only by Hashem. That bond in our heart will grow and expand and be our salvation.
Rabbi Rietti suggests walking along and calling 1 800 ALMIGHTY as if on our cell phones. We can tell Hashem in detail our story. Out loud. In detail. And as we do, we begin to understand it is external (albeit internally felt) to our soul and we can ask Hashem to help us be more like Him, that we do not want the outcome of anything this part of us would naturally lead us to, and to please help us because WE WANT TO REVEAL HIM IN THIS WORLD.
May we all soon begin our primary career, serving Hashem by rectifying our characteristics, as He intends for us to do. And may we speedily see a new light.