2015-09-16 / Columns

A time of introspection allows us to look in the mirror and move forward

Executive Director, Jewish Family & Children’s Service

The High Holidays are upon us, a time to be appreciative of past challenges, but ready to start again with renewed hope. Rosh Hashanah, followed by a 10-day period of introspection and repentance that culminates in the Yom Kippur holiday, offers us time for reflection and contemplation. This is a holy space in time for us to review our transgressions, and embrace the lessons that we have learned from them. The New Year also bestows upon us a moment to forgive both ourselves and others. These days allow us be accountable for our choices and the impact we have had on our family, our friends, and the world around us.

As many of us will certainly vow to be more generous and more giving of ourselves within our communities, we mustn’t overlook being better to ourselves as well. When we go into the New Year making a commitment to be better—we have the opportunity to look in the mirror, and take honest stock of what has prevented us from being our best selves during the last year. What obstacles are we experiencing? Is there something preventing us from realizing the true, positive impact that we can have?

Sometimes, the things for which we ask forgiveness may have been prevented if we had sought guidance regarding the root of the issue. When we understand some of the triggers for confusion and unhappiness, we can improve ourselves, thus improving how we serve our community and loved ones.

Some questions to ask this year include: Are you dealing with, or burying, challenges with relationships? Are you neglecting to address symptoms of mental illness or stressors? Do you find yourself being inflexible with your children, family members, or spouse more often than you’d like because you are harboring sadness or resentments? Perhaps deep down, your heart is still broken from the loss of a loved one or a dream left unrealized.

Maybe you are caring for an ailing family member, and need someone to talk to, but don’t know where to turn. Possibly, you or someone you know, is being abused by another—and you want or need help, but have been afraid to ask for it. Maybe you, or someone you know, is showing frustration because there is an older person in your life that needs additional care— yet you are unsure how to rectify or improve his/her situation? All of life’s issues can take a toll on how we treat others, especially if these issues are left unaddressed.

Asking and answering any of the questions above is not easy. Digging deep and looking at life head-on can seem daunting and overwhelming. However, the first step in ensuring that your next year is the best one yet is to be honest with yourself. Only in doing so can you gain peace of mind to be true to yourself. Selfcare, and finding solutions for the care of others around you, can improve your perspective, infuse your life with health and happiness, and bring to the forefront the things that cause you and your loved ones discomfort.

The shofar is our spiritual wake-up call, a call to action, and it reminds us that we and our situations are not flawless— but we can use this time to make a blueprint for our happiness, to draw a schematic for healing, and develop a plan for confronting the things that may sway us as we move through our journeys.

Please consider reaching out to JFCS for help this year. We consider everyone in our community to be part of our “family.” We are here to help you and your loved one, with hope and help. By helping ourselves, we can better help others—and perhaps we will all have many more mitzvahs than regrets to list when we take stock next time the shofar sounds. . mmeyers@jfedsnj.org

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