The cornerstone of modern psychotherapy is to provide the patient with unconditional positive regard – a situation where they are accepted just as they are, without any judgment. Therapy is a place where clients can feel safe to reveal what lies deep inside their heart, without any fear of criticism. It can provide an important initial foundation to let go of defensiveness, to build and to grow. However, at some point you need to take control of your own life – to acknowledge that your own choices may have played a role in your unsuccessful job, your failed marriage or your poor relationship with your children.
All too often, people spend years in therapy wallowing in their past failures, blaming anyone and everyone for what went wrong in their lives. This approach is doomed from the start, because mental health is not dependent on what the world gives you, but on what you give the world.
The Alter Rebbe, founder of Chabad Chassidut, once responded to a chassid who came to him with a litany of woes: “You speak a great deal about what you need. But have you thought about what you are needed for?”
“My sin is before me always” writes King David. With this he acknowledges the vital need for introspection, self-criticism and growth. It is the only way we can move on from an infantile, self-centered approach to a more realistic perspective – one centered on our relationship with G-d. The recognition that He created us and put us into this world for a purpose is both humbling and liberating. It means that regardless of the challenges we face in life, we have the ability to overcome them. Our lives have meaning and purpose, even if we struggle, even if our gifts and talents aren’t always appreciated by the people around us. It is not recognition that we live for, but the opportunity to serve G-d and elevate the world through our good deeds.
To trust in G-d is to let go of ego, of petty hurt and disappointment, while at the same time embracing our own passion and power to make a positive change in this world. It means recognizing that wherever we are in life is not the fault of our parents, our teachers, or the old classmates who never accepted us.
To heal from our past, the important thing to evaluate is not our relationship with our parents, but our relationship with our Creator. This is the truest, most effective approach to psychological health and well-being.
It’s time to stop viewing yourself as a failure just because you have not achieved the wealth or prominence or respect you have always craved. Your success in life does not depend on what you get but what you give. And this, in practical terms, is the way we achieve a personal Geulah, which will pave the way for the universal Redemption that will encompass the entire world.