By Tzvi Werther, LMHC
Have you heard? A quiet revolution is taking place within our community. Its participants are few in number, yet it is growing, slowly but surely. This movement has no hierarchy or central headquarters; it requires no financial commitment, oath of allegiance, or adoption of some carefully worded ideal. Nonetheless, it has tremendous potential to alter your experience of life.
What does this revolution look like? People are experiencing authentic happiness in their lives more consistently. Work environments are less stressful, marriages are more connected, parenting is easier and lighter and avodas Hashem is more fulfilling and joyful. With no change in the many real challenges life presents, people are finding within themselves an ability to thrive. Instead of settling for “just getting by” or “coping”, these modern-day pioneers are discovering joy, patience, energy, resilience and more meaningful, richer lives. The only change is a shift in understanding.
The Jewish media, shabbos table conversations, and national conventions are largely occupied with the major crises that face us as a nation. The Tuition Crisis, the Shidduch Crisis, the Divorce Crisis, the Sexual Abuse Crisis, and the At-Risk Youth Crisis are all real challenges that must be addressed. The truth might be, however, that all of these issues are merely symptoms of a much broader, more pervasive, personal dysfunction. Just beneath each headline, barely visible and waiting to be discovered, is the biggest crisis of all.
As Rabbi Michel Twerski of Milwaukee, WI, puts it most clearly:
“The Jewish people, long immune to the ills of the world around them, have in recent decades succumbed to the pathology of our surrounding society. Once a happy, industrious, and vibrant nation, even the healthiest amongst us struggles with low self-esteem, sadness, loneliness and despair. The tragedy of unfulfilled, listless lives is all too common. This pervasive malaise threatens the continuity of our sacred institutions. As more marriages fail, as more children leave the fold, as more dysfunction and unhappiness creeps into every facet of our national fabric – the need for a true solution becomes even more critical.”
Since it’s fun to label things, I’ll call it the State of Mind Crisis. It’s simple really. If your state of mind is low, unhappy, hopeless or discouraged you’ll be a limited parent, employee, baseball player or whatever it is that you are trying to do. You’ll have less patience, fewer good ideas and reduced energy. Sometimes, you might even make some really bad decisions about how to behave when operating out of this frame of mind. It’s a national crisis when most people operate this way a lot of the time – and it is behind every single major issue plaguing us today.
What to Do?
For decades, Rabbi Michel Twerski and Rebbetzin Feige Twerski confronted this State of Mind Crisis head on. They counseled, advised, encouraged, and supported as best they could. They referred people to psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers. As helpful as these effort sometimes were, they were disappointed to discover that the people who came for help were not rediscovering vibrant and vital lives. There was a lack of real, inner transformation. In fact, the crisis was getting worse. Increasingly, their phones rang with the pain and devastation of episodes more deviant and unhealthy than ever before.
They therefore set out to find new modalities and approaches that might give people the state of mind they desired. Every psychological approach was considered; every helpful idea was examined, no possibility was excluded. Ever hopeful, they kept an open eye and ear for some new pill or technique that could make people happy again. This exhaustive search led them unexpectedly to a breakthrough.
Some years ago, Rabbi Chaim Levine referred Rabbi Twerski to a program taking place in Seattle. The Rabbi and Rebbetzin, with a number of their congregants, traveled there to attend and investigate this approach first hand. No, they did not find a new technique to magically make people happy, but they did discover a breakthrough regarding how to approach the state of mind crisis.
They discovered that everyone already has everything they need for a wonderful life. What people needed was not a new or better state of mind, but rather a deeper understanding of all human experience. They found that a pervasive misunderstanding about where feelings come from leads to a great deal of confusion regarding how to relate to the ups and downs of life and results in much needless suffering. An accurate understanding of how the human experience works results in more energy and resiliency, as well as access to a vast pool of deeper resources and possibilities.
As Dr. Keith Blevens puts it:
“This is an insight that you’re living in the feeling of your thinking, and every time the truth of that is made self-evident to you, it creates an awakening, it creates a change, it creates a resettling and you change. It’s not a way to change other people but a way for you to find new capabilities…a new way of moving forward…”
Realistic Hope for Everyone
This is real. A growing number of people are finding profound, lasting, meaningful change in their lives. Anyone can benefit from having a better understanding of personal reality. This understanding will change the way you relate to that reality, allowing you to handle challenges more naturally and quickly.
“There’s a lot of things in your life right now….that you feel are constraints and are taking a toll on you….that you will see have no reality. And when people see that, they change.” – Dr. George Pransky, Pransky & Associates
A seasoned trailblazer, Rabbi Twerski organized the Twerski Wellness Institute with the vision of a vibrant and healthy Jewish nation. Its mission is to bring a helpful, insightful, Torah-authentic awareness and understanding of the 3 Principles into your life so you can parent, worship, relate and conduct business with more energy and a richer connection. Although a full examination of the 3 Principles behind the human experience is beyond the scope of this article, anyone can wake up to a deeper understanding of life at any moment. Our seminars and classes, led by world-class facilitators, are a wonderful way to gain a transformative appreciation of these ideas.
Cathy Casey, MA and Rivkah Kromholz, LMFT, are offering a seminar in Monsey for women, beginning iy”H July 28. Dr. Keith Blevens, his wife Valda Monroe and Tzvi Werther, LMHC, are offering a seminar in Baltimore for men and women, beginning iy”H on August 31. For more information on these events and other Twerski Wellness Institute programs, please visit our website: www.twerskiwellness.org, or call us: 845-350-2695.
Tzvi Werther, LMHC of Brooklyn, NY is a Three Principles teacher, trainer and consultant. Together with Rabbi Michel Twerski he is at the forefront of the global effort to bring an understanding of the 3 Principles to the Jewish community.