The Source of Healing | Chaim Moshe Steinmetz, LISW

There is one root cause that underlies much inner suffering. It’s the belief that there is something about you that is inherently not ok, deserving, lovable, good, worthy, valuable, adequate or enough. While everyone sometimes acts in ways that are not ok in their own eyes, this belief goes beyond actions when you define yourself as that.

It’s why you react defensively when criticized, angrily when challenged, and feel guilty when you’ve done nothing wrong. Its why you feel lonely when you’re surrounded by loved ones, anxious in social situations and never happy with your success. It causes you to procrastinate hard things and then hate yourself for it, and engage in behaviors that you desperately wish you didn’t.The list goes on and on.

How do you heal that wound? Healing requires two steps. The first step is that you start to believe on a logical level that you are enough, lovable, etc. To attain that belief, you may need to examine what defines your worth. Through doing some inner work, you may come to the conclusion that you are inherently lovable even if you were not loved, are inherently ok even if you sometimes do things that are not ok. Step 2 is that you begin experiencing yourself as enough, lovable etc. These two steps are not the same. You can logically believe something but feel very different about it. Healing requires that you believe in your worth and that you also feel it.

Many people can accept that they have inherent worth and value. Feeling it is harder. How can you feel a sense of inherent goodness and worth if you never have? Many of us are used to feeling good about ourselves when we do good, and bad about who we are when we dont. Feeling that you are inherently good and enough despite sometimes slipping up is a concept that even when understood is hard to feel because it’s not something you’ve ever experienced. Try telling that to your boss next time he’s upset at the mistake you’ve made. “I’m inherently good even though I messed up”. You’ll be out of a job!

Last week I wrote about how our psychological makeup determines our ruchniyus. The opposite is true as well. If we work on it, our connection to Hashem can be a source of real emotional healing. Hashem’s value and love for us is very different than human love. Chazal in numerous places make it clear that Hashem’s love for us is always there, unaffected by our actions (:יומא נד and mefarshim on the כרובים embracing by the חורבן). While our actions do have שכר ועונש, the inherent love that Hashem has for us is undying.

If Hashem has that unconditional love and value for us despite our actions then so can we. Where and how can we feel that powerful, unconditional value and love? Everywhere. Everything we have, the air we breathe, food, shelter, clothing, parnassa, health, children, is Hashem’s gift of love to us. Hashem gives us these gifts every day, even on the days that we are not up to par. If we learn to accept it as His gift, then every day of our lives is an opportunity to deepen our connection to Hashem, and through that connection, to experience our own inherent lovability, worth, and value.

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Chaim Moshe Steinmetz, LISW is a psychotherapist in private practice. For more information, visit Chaimmoshesteinmetz.com

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