Authentic Jewish self-esteem is the feeling of being connected with G-d, and knowing that He loves us and that we can turn to Him whenever we want, and that we are never alone...
by Dr. Zev Ballen
A lot of us think we already have emuna; but when we find ourselves in a tough situation, with our back against the wall, we often find that really, we don't. Just hearing a rabbi say that we have to believe in the Creator, and believe that everything is for the best, doesn't make people do it. There has to be something that pulls them to that belief. Emuna Coaching programs are designed to help people who have already got some momentum to start living their lives with emuna, to teach them the tools and techniques they need to develop their emuna into a solid, tangible, “real” entity.
Whatever the block is, whatever the issue that needs to be worked on that's keeping a person down, or depressed, or under-developed, we have developed an Emuna Coaching tool, based on the absolute truth, to help them deal with it.
Part of our physiology has to do with our cognitive process, or thought process. Thoughts are not just “thinking”; thinking also includes imaging. It's all those pictures, or movies that come into our minds, and these pictures are sometimes the most cunning ones to deal with. They can be a very powerful tool for the Evil Inclination, but we can also turn these things around and use their power to help us, instead of hindering us.
Most of us have no idea how powerful our own neurological system can be if we train it properly. It's possible to be at a peak state nearly all the time! A lot of what we're doing in Emuna Coaching is working from the outside, in. It's much easier to control the body than it is to deal with the mind. All a muscle knows how to do is to expand or contract, making us either relax or tense up. So, if we work on relaxing the body first, which is very easy to do, then once a person is in that relaxed state, it's going to be much easier to work with his or her thoughts, which are much more elusive and complex. Someone recently told me that on his present level, he knows that simply relaxing is his way to feel close to G-d!
When I'm working with the body, what does that mean, practically? It means that I'm letting go of my muscles, I'm breathing slowly; maybe it means I need to move around or change my place. If I'm stuck trying to get my speech or article done, and I'm sitting in front of my laptop and all my creative juices have seized up, often one of the fastest ways to get my creativity flowing again is simply to move somewhere else.
Our sages teach us that when we change our place, we change our mazal (luck). I might have one type of mazal in the living room, and another completely different and more productive mazal in the den or the kitchen. Our environment is a very important factor in trying to get ourselves unstuck, or when we're trying to break old, destructive patterns and blueprints, and shift into a healthier, more productive way of thinking and being.
Nearly everything that I speak about helps people to build their self-esteem, which is the key to accessing so many of the good things in our lives. But I don’t like to mention the words “self-esteem” anymore, because if I do that, the Evil Inclination will be waiting and will try to ambush our success. So instead, we're going to come in the back door, and the self-esteem is going to happen by itself as a natural by-product of the Emuna Coaching process.
I define authentic Jewish self-esteem as the feeling of being connected with G-d, and knowing that He loves us and that we can turn to Him whenever we want, and that we are never alone. Jewish self-esteem happens when people feel that their prayers are being answered, and that G-d is listening to them and responding. We can build this self-esteem by seeing G-d in our lives. When we walk past a beautiful bunch of flowers, for example, we can connect them back to G-d, and instantly experience a wonderful feeling of self-esteem. When we miraculously make the bus that was already pulling away - that's more grist for the self-esteem mill! G-d is with me! He's concerned about all the smallest details of my life, and He's constantly looking out for me and communicating with me.
Whenever we have a peak experience, we can build our self-esteem by stopping and giving credit to G-d. Let's take a moment to thank Him for all the wonderful sights, feelings, and experiences He's sending us all the time.
Dr. Zev Ballen, Psy.D. has been a practicing psychotherapist for more than 30 years. He is the founder and developer of Emuna Therapy, a faith-based method of counseling based exclusively on the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush. Dr. Zev has the endorsements of Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Rabbi Yitzchok Fagelstock, Rabbi Shalom Arush, and Rabbi Lazer Brody. You can write in with questions to Dr. Zev at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can call him at: 845-362-8600 (US) or 054-840-9499 (Israel). Dr. Zev resides in Jerusalem, with his family, where he learns in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time private practice. You're also welcome to visit Dr. Zev's personal blog, Emuna Therapy.