All mental health issues are founded on anxiety, fear, what we commonly call stress.
What is stress? Someone who was locked in a closet during a robbery explained to me that stress is being locked in a closet during a robbery; you see stress is not a sudden issue, rather it is a prolonged issue and hence our sense of calm, our sense of security gets broken.
For example they took baby monkeys away from their mothers in a test – for about three hours a day, a very stressful thing for a baby whose sole comfort, security, is their mother – and these monkeys developed high anxiety and like a completely neurotic person couldn’t cope with life.
On the other hand – baby monkeys whose mothers returned after fifteen minutes got the idea, that life is secure.
This basic premise, if life is fearful or not; lies at the heart of mental health.
For example; imagine you are walking on a universe comprised of thin glass / ice, your every moment would be filled with panic, dread, fear etc.
Thank God the universe is hard and hence we need not worry about such things.
When we have endured prolonged periods of fear, our very security erodes, and we become like those baby monkeys, neurotic.
There is only – I mean only – one way to rid oneself of stress, and that is through feeling secure again.
If you were walking on thin ice filled with dread, and someone told you, the ice had hardened, you would immediately feel better.
The same is true in life, we need to recognize that whatever happened to us in the past, IS THE PAST.
Kabbalistickly speaking, this is very easy, for according to the Kabbalah there are three stages we have to endure (specifically if we have had deep stress, trauma in our lives, and I can personally attest to the veracity of this:) Stage one is our – hopefully – good secure life – in which we learn to trust the universe as a safe and secure location. Stage two is when we have prolonged periods of stress in which we learn to distrust the universe as a safe and secure – rather we sense it as a insecure – location; and hence we strive to gain control over our lives and all mental health issues stem from this desire to decrease our stress, not knowing how, for fundamentally we are in a stressful perception.
Stage three, is the payback, for everything God does is only for the good – hence if we have, or are going through / gone through a stressful period, it is only because at the end of the tunnel lies a pot of gold.
You see, after the stage of harshness, comes the stage of mercy – in this third stage God gives us a stress-free life, much greater than the previous stage of goodness from God.
From health to good and successful
How to love people and use things, and not use people and love things
By nature a person loves people and uses things.
In other words from childhood, man is born with a predilection to identify with people.
The problem comes in – much like a person bitten by a dog – that instead of loving dogs, a person fears them, and then the person hates; for hate is strong-fear, as the Baal Shem Tov calls hate, negative fear.
So in order to love people, one must firstly fulfill the dictum of Elijah the Prophet to the Baal Shem Tov (through his father Eliezer) “Fear no one, but god!”
How does one, fear no one?
It is actually exceptionally simple – man can only fear if he can perceive power to harm in the other. When you go by a vicious dog, you may feel tremendous fear – but how about if he has a cage? Even lions are not scary when the cage protects you.
Imagine this – every person is only a puppet, God holds their strings.
Whatever happened to you was from God.
Now everything that comes from God comes either as a spiritual or materiel benefit – materiel benefits feel good, so it is easy to understand; however spiritual benefits are like an operation, it is exceptionally painful, yet afterwards we are feeling better indefinitely (unlike material benefits that dissipate as quickly as they come.)
Which would you rather have, a temporary bliss, or permanent bliss?!
Know that every, every, everything God does for you, is both for the spiritual and materiel (think what it takes to grow food, your own immune system, digestive systems, senses such as sight which needs sunlight, or light to allow you to see, hearing which needs sound waves, the ability for others to talk so you can hear them, how about the perfect climate that allows life only on planet earth, as far as the Hubble telescope can see!)
In other words, we have much to be grateful for – particularly when we count these blessings first thing in the morning, we become cognizant of our materiel blessings, hence not fearing their loss. On the other hand, if we do not realize that life is – in the words of my friend Brad, “A spiritual challenge in a physical world!” nothing will give us happiness, for no matter what we have, all we want is more.
For example, Ted Turner complains that after $200,000,0000.00 dollars, which can purchase five homes and a plane, there is nothing left to purchase.
He will never be truly happy, for he values things, and things are limited, so he is – in the words of our sages – suffering from double syndrome; Whatever man has, they want double!
But if we can truly understand, that God’s purpose for man is as the Baal Shem Tov quotes Saadiah Goan (one of the greatest Jewish mystics and philosophers,) an exercise to refine ourselves, and refinement like polishing a diamond, or even scrubbing caked off dirt from a child playing in the mud, (for our instinctual desires cake in foolishness in us, and misdirect our lives,) then we would be very grateful for our perceived misfortunes, which really are the very gift of refinement, life is all about.
Now that’s the first half, ridding ourselves from fear; the second half is of course the second part of Elijah’s statement, “Love every man with all the fire of your heart and soul.”
This is no easy feat, for we love ourselves with all our heart and soul; but that is the solution! See how another is like you!
Here are ten ways from Jewish mysticism:
1. Imagine all souls coming from a single fire in the soul quarry. Picture how your soul and your friend’s, is simply the same fire in a different body – because you come from the same source.
2. If you are married, realize that your soul and your spouse’s soul are one entity, divided but reunited in birth and marriage, respectively.
3. As your soul – as everything – is God, hence as God is one, you and your friends soul are not only two flames in different bodies, but one and the same, just the bodies are different.
4. See the good in others, how are they special? Which will lead to admiration, hence love.
5. As Plato said, “Treat everyone with kindness for they have a mountain of troubles behind them.”
6. Understand that both you and the person you see, are God’s Rembrandts: created, fashioned designed in a womb, miraculously alive.
7. Your and everyone’s soul mission is to refine yourself, i.e. work for God as per the Creators Masters Artist’s instructions; hence not only are you the same – but your purpose is the same, and hence much like fellow employees feel camaraderie, so “Workers of the world unite in your similarity!” (Though each person’s mission is unique, however the fundamentals of the Boss’s requirements / God’s desire for refinement, are exactly the same.)
8. Realize that any fault you see in another is your own. The Baal Shem Tov teaches that if you see a fault in others it is like a person looking in mirrors, psychologically, we only see fault as we cannot see our own (for they are concealed – buried under self love which is why people in love do not see each others faults,) and hence you are not seeing their faults, rather yours!
9. Always forgive others if you want God to forgive you.
10. All people desire intrinsically, harmony / unity, and hence on the very basic level, all people – even those angry miserable souls who lash out – are truly the same, i.e. we all need human interaction to feel validated / loved and hence we really are the same.