I think I hate my family (Consequences, Part 2)

We've all heard stories of people who went to psychotherapy, just to find out that they really hate their families & religion and have been stuffing and harboring resentments towards the whole world.  Unfortunately, many families have been destroyed and many people have left the faith because of this therapy tactic.

You know what? There's even a part of me that resents the restrictions put on me by my religion.  Thanks to the responsibilities they come together with, I even have resentment towards my family!  Indeed, life would be so simple if I could live on my own and not have to worry about another six peoples problems or live such a restricted religious lifestyle!

While reading these last few lines, you might be asking yourself how I can write such mean and hypocritical things.  Of course I love my family!  They are the biggest blessing that I was ever given!  Of course I love Judaism.  I'm a rabbi for crying out loud!

Like everyone on this planet, I have a deep, dark subconscious animal part of me resents the "good" things I do in life, but it's only part of me!  There's so much more to me, and it's the other part that I allow to define me.  Even my conscious animal can appreciate the sacrifice necessary to raise a normal family, just like it appreciates the discipline offered by religion.  Of course, both parts of my G-dly soul are totally happy with my family and religion.

The question is what to do with that subconscious animal if I'm not acting on it.  For quite some time, I've just pretended that it doesn't exist.  It's three soul-parts against one, and for the vast majority of the time, the three win, so I'm comfortable enough to just ignore it.  Recently though, I've learned first hand about the consequences of stuffing the subconscious animal, which I'll tell you about soon.

There must be some healthy lifestyle out there that doesn't give into the anger, jealousy and lust of the animal soul, and at the same time doesn't stuff all these negative traits and pretend they don't exist (pretending to be a tzadik, or righteous fellow who doesn't struggle).

That middle ground is simple acknowledgement.  Yes, I recognize the ugly part of me over there, and it can stay over there in the corner without affecting the rest of my life.  As long as I stuff it and pretend it's not there, that subconscious animal will be desperate to surface, either by getting me to betray what's most important to me, or by creating some phony distraction, so that it doesn't continue to be ignored.

It's like parenting 101.  If you don't give a child healthy attention, they'll start acting out.  As long as I ignore the subconscious animal and don't give it attention, it'll do anything to catch my attention.

Once you give the child healthy attention, which doesn't include free reign to do whatever they want, the acting out disappears (unless there's a more serious issue).  All the subconscious animal needs, is to be recognized and exposed, and then it will shut up and stay in the corner.
In Tanya, the Alter Rebbe responds to those who complain about the constant struggle. These kinds of feelings, suggests the Alter Rebbe, stem from arrogance.  Only one with delusions of grandeur could resent or be embarrassed by the struggle.  G-d does sprinkle the world with "tzadikim" or people that don't struggle, but they are few are far between.  G-d put me into the world for a reason, and a big part of it, is to struggle. 

My consequence for fooling myself about being a tzaddik, is tremendous back pain, which I'll tell you more about next week.

Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Abrams

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