Experience Time: 4 minutes to read – 5 minutes to digest = 9 minutes of your day.
Reading Time: 3 minutes, 9 seconds. Contains 600 words (calculated by http://niram.org/read/)
Skim Time: Don’t skim this. Seriously. If you don’t have the time to invest a couple minutes right now, come back when you do. Skimming through life and looking for more knowledge won’t make any difference for you. You need to take the time to invest in getting something (experientially) from reading this. If you’re in skimming mode, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that or bad, it just won’t work and my intention in writing this is that it work.
My intention in writing this article is: to have you take a look at where in your life you are being a victim of something or someone.
It can be scary acknowledging that we do have choice and are not ever victims…but it is one of the most powerful steps in starting to get complete and at peace with everything in your life.
So take a hard look. Does Torah and Mitzvos occur to you as this system you are the victim of?
I was coaching one of my clients this past week and what came out was that this guy literally lives in a world where he is bound hand and feet, by the system of halacha and is a total victim to it.
He’s unsatisfied, unfulfilled and the only thing that keeps him going is that he gets to feel like he’s doing life “right” and “better” than everyone else because he is frum.
Not in a malicious way, just what’s there for him.
The truth (at least from my eyes)? He’s a beautiful human being. I was so moved during our conversation at his commitment to his family.
I asked him at one point while he was talking about how he has no choice and that yiddishkeit is the only thing he can do and that he also has no choice about his family because he HAS to take care of them:
“Dovid (not his name obviously) hang on one second. Who decided that halacha means anything?”
Dovid: “What do you mean? It’s emes!”
Me: “Yes you believe that and I happen to also believe that, but you know there are jews who don’t believe it’s emes right? There are even jews who grew up frum like yourself that decided Torah doesn’t mean anything. So my question is. who decided FOR YOU that it means anything TO YOU in your world?”
Dovid: [add more back and forth before this point] “I guess…I…did.”
Me: “Right. So how are you a victim again?”
Dovid: “But I don’t feel like I have a choice.”
Me: “I get that. I can see that. AND your feelings have nothing to do with reality. You actually live like your feelings mean anything in reality. As if they get to determine what’s true and real. And because you don’t feel like you have a choice you make that mean that in reality you don’t. Am I right or wrong on that? You tell me.”
Dovid: No, that’s right.
Berry: But do you?
Dovid: But what about my family, my 4 kids? I don’t have a choice there!
Berry: Look, Dovid. I’m not saying you’re not in a tough spot.I really do get the fear and frustration and guilt and shame and the seemingly impossible situation you’re living in. And if you want that, that’s fine. I don’t think it’s wrong or bad to continue this way or to just bite the bullet and live a religious and marital life sentence. I also don’t think it’s wrong or bad to leave both. The question is…what do you REALLY want. Because whatever that is, I’m committed to having you powerhousing THAT into reality!
But it all begins with a choice. Because victims don’t get to choose the life they want. And I also do get how very much it seems that you don’t have a choice and have no good options and what’s also true is that you do have options and choices. You know there are people who buy a one way ticket to some exotic place and escape it all. I’m not suggesting you do that but what is this nonsense? Of course you have a choice! You can choose to powerfully invest in your marriage and your community and religion. You can choose to practice it publicly and privately not. You can choose to stay in your marriage and speak to your wife about exploring how you can start to feel more engaged and alive within the marriage. You can leave. I mean, there are endless options here.
But here’s what you want to start to look at. If it is true that you have choice and are not a victim, why are you living in a world where you don’t? Meaning, what do you gain by being in that world? What is the benefit of being a victim?
TO BE CONTINUED…
Again, right now this occurs to this man as conceptually true perhaps but experientially false as he does not feel like he has choice AND he relates to his feelings like the truth. The real breakthrough won’t necessarily even come from something directly related to his marriage and frumkeit…it may come in a minor area but will come as he starts to relate to his life based on his commitments and starts to reduce the significance of his internal state of affairs.
[Please note the following:
a) this is a slice and a window into a conversation without the previous context of past conversations as well as the before and after of this conversation itself
b) I don’t bring any agenda to my clients or just stam people I interact with. MY only agenda is that they get empowered to fulfill on what’s important to THEM. It’s about their agenda not mine
c) I asked this man if I could use this conversation to make a difference for other people in an article and he agreed.]
Thank you to Rabbi Gershon Shusterman, Jackie Stern, Eli Soble, Rabbi Fink, Tzvi Bleich and Dovi Seldowitz for reading a draft of this article and providing insightful feedback.
P.S. Here’s what I’m NOT SAYING:
I’m not saying feelings aren’t important, valuable and/or necessary.
I’m not saying this man needs to do anything, whether to stay or go.
I’m not saying he has great options to choose from.
I’m not saying he is a sub-par husband for feeling this way.
I’m simply saying what I’m saying.
P.P.S. If you found this article in any way helpful, empowering or insightful, OR if you disagreed with it and yet it had you come alive and start thinking about what really matters to you AND you want to give something back to me, I have a request of you!
Share it with two people you suspect might like it, resonate with it, or even strongly disagree with it.
With much humility, fragility and awe at the possibility of you creating lasting change in your life,