Let’s focus for a moment on what obstructs our holy essence, that which is made in the image of Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy, from being what our awareness naturally yearns to reveal.
The obstruction is our self-conscious natural thinking itself. It can be some part or even, heaven forbid, everything that our learning and experiential development has imprinted on our mind. Our self-conscious natural thinking is like a magnet for our awareness. Our awareness is drawn by this self-conscious natural magnet to the degree of its strength, and our holy essence gets drawn along and trapped in that negativity. What determines the strength of our self-conscious natural thinking?
Strength is a function of repetitions.
Thus if we have had longstanding trauma or abuse or neglect, the chances are that the strength of those experiences, because the time period of the experience has led to more and more repetitions of the thoughts. Likewise with coping mechanisms, false beliefs, bad habits and more.
Let’s say the events of trauma or abuse or the events for which we formed coping mechanisms and false beliefs were long ago. In every moment, the brain is recalling them when similar-appearing circumstances arise. It may not, in fact, be happening in external circumstances, but our mind repeats the memory and that “groove” in our mind deepens. It feels to us as though it is happening. The deeper the groove, the more magnetic pull it has on our consciousness. Those whose dependency needs were not met when young may often find their awareness of their lack of love and value to be played out in relationships, even loving relationships.
When we feel ourselves being drawn toward that magnetic pull, that pull itself can be a signal for us to stop, breathe, and cry out to Hashem for redemption from the pulls of our past circumstances. It is our natural reality – our brain does have these memories and they do play a huge role in our neurology. But they are not who we are essentially.
The wisdom to know that these are a strong magnetic pull and not who we are essentially is the beginning of being able to serve Hashem in the moment. It is our effort to recognize and choose a far greater magnet – Hashem Himself – for our consciousness to cling that is productive.
We form our eternal identity from the simple but hard effort it takes to sweat through these moments. It makes no difference the mission of each person in that moment – only the G-d-conscious effort to release our essence from the grips of the natural magnet – the negative reactions – forms for each unique person their eternal life.
This is the main thing to understand. The more trapped our essence is in the feeling of lack of love and lack of value, the bigger the magnet in our life has been. And the more spiritual matter we can bring from that natural response to kedusha.
We can change our brains. It takes consistent effort over time to build new neuropathways that become a highway for our consciousness to direct our essence. But it is possible. And it is the most pleasant outcome a person can have.
Who would not write inner peace as their number one choice to make a difference in life? It is obvious that riches alone do not bring inner peace, although wealth can help tremendously in easing the daily struggles of life.
Who desires life, eternal life? This was the question of the Chofetz Chaim. The laws of lashon hora are a great way to confront and effortfully pull our essence from the natural to kedusha. Yet we fight this with our judgments, clinging to the justifications for our natural thinking as the road to comfort and contentment.
May our efforts be empowered by this knowledge so that we have the emunah to push through when we feel those downward pulls drawing us into familiar dark alleys in our minds. And may our process bring a new light to the world and the coming of the redemption from our love for Hashem and our desire to serve Him in this way.