The insight into sinas chinam that might help so much is if we could grasp that our hurt feelings are stemming from our interpretations of what happened and that our interpretations are based on our (often false) beliefs, not on the other person’s beliefs, even if those were the very same words said with the very same intention in the other person! Noticing our faults triggers a feeling of inadequacy that is accompanied by shame. And that is the fallen shame for which Hashem is sending the matter, so that we may struggle to regain a proper relationship with Him and a proper use of the sense of being a created being made in His Image.
Although we are inclined to find in another’s words grounds to be hurt, and indeed words may have been exchanged that are not misinterpreted, it hurts to the degree of our interpretation and strength of our beliefs. To one person, the same words might roll off their back. Did anyone ever tell you to let it roll? Why is that possible for some and not for others? Is there something wrong with us?
It is not that anything is wrong with us. We are all made in the image of Hashem. That is the essential truth. However, we believe lashon hara about that pure part of us due to influences when we were vulnerable and dependent and our brains were forming. Those beliefs, that got imbued in our survival instincts because we were scared of rejection or being abandoned (as young children naturally have these fears), over time became our self-image. We don’t even know what the originating flaw was that caused us to develop such hurtful inner images of ourselves. And because it feels so dangerous, we hesitate to investigate, to look inside, out of fear of what we will find….that imaginary demon we came to believe we are, due to the impressions about ourselves that the anger and frustration of certain role models may have generated. And what is worse, we don’t remember, nor do we believe anything except that they loved us and we love them. It is all in the unconscious and subconscious and we feel ill equipped to strip away layers that we believe are just us, plain and simple – flawed, imperfect – accept me as I am, don’t try to change me or fix me. The only problem is that we probably spend a great deal of time feeling sad or hurt, or even shaking inside, and possibly saying or doing things we really don’t want to do, meaning that we hurt others in retaliation in self-defense to restore our sense of safety.
When we feel judged and demonized, our instinct is to return fire with fire. We then judge and demonize. And who prevails? The battle is over when one of the parties trumps the other with a more damaging demonization that they can blame them for. The other party stops. However, the war is lost because of the deep hurts we inflict and the loss of love and trust between people.
What if we could come to a point of consciousness that would give us a moment to reflect that the judgment and demonization that we believe is being made of us is not really coming from the belief of the other person even if they said the actual words!!!! The pain we are feeling is coming from within us alone. Thus, if we can rectify the pain we experience within, even if the other person judges and demonizes us with those very same words, what impact will it have on us? NONE. Why? Because we will have a tool to be in touch with the real truth, and that truth is that we are made in Hashem’s image and that He loves us in a way that can never be broken. We are Divine beings in bodies that are flawed. Nothing diminishes the divine spark within us, a piece of infinity Itself. Shaking off the coverings over that truth can take a lifetime.
We are approaching Elul. I hope these words inspire and empower anyone reading it to truly search for the truth inside and shed the misconceptions and false beliefs that parade as our ego and identity. May we breach the walls of the shell covering and concealing the pure light we are enabled to bring to this world.