One sure way to make people avoid you is if you continue to live in the past and refuse to move on from a painful experience. Catching a cheating spouse will certainly garner sympathy, for example, but if it's been years and the infidelity is still an ongoing complaint, your circle of friends may whittle down to like-minded whiners. Even the Book of Ecclesiastes urges us to move on. "To everything, there is a season" can be seen as a Biblical exhortation to "go with the flow."
Many Jews, however, recite daily the "Six Remembrances," one of which is to "remember the day when you went out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life." (Devarim/Deuteronomy 16:3). For starters, I already have enough on my plate in the morning. Besides, we do this at great length during the Passover Seder – so why ruminate about it daily?
In Va'eira, God tells Moses the four ways He will redeem the Jewish people. So, redemption is more than just a one-step process. Exiting the narrow spiritual confines of Egypt paves the way toward the expansiveness of connection and service to God. Leaving negativity is not an end unto itself but a precursor to embracing positivity.
Nor is redemption a once-and-done event but rather an inquiry and reflection into the false mental constructs that enslave us for our entire lives. If you are having trouble making the positive changes you want to make, it may pay to look at each component of the 4-step redemptive process as described in Va'eira:
• "I shall take you out from under the burdens."
Commit to Stopping
This refers to God stopping the hard labor. While the Ten Plagues occurred over a long period before the Jews left Egypt, the physical burden of slavery came to an end.
Select a negative behavior you want to shift that is challenging but doable. State your goal in the positive. For example, instead of saying you want to stop yelling at your kids, you would say you want to show more patience and love. And you have to genuinely fully commit to stopping the unwanted behavior and not repeating it. (Of course, you won't be 100% perfect, but you can't merely be paying lip service to this.)
If you cannot stop repeating old patterns, honestly check whether you have placed a high enough value on the change you want to see. How important is it, and what would be possible for you and your relationships if the troublesome issue were handled? Take the time to imagine this as being real for you.
• "I shall rescue you."
Avoid temptation and come up with an if/then strategy.
This refers to God taking us out of the very land of Egypt.
If you can avoid the place or circumstances that tempt you, you should. Weight Watchers has a great saying to help people avoid buying groceries that contain forbidden food items – "Don't bring your enemies home with you." But seriously, the key to adopting any new behavior is having a strategy for dealing with what inevitably gets in the way. Take time to think about the obstacles that trip you up – both externally and internally. Think about how you give yourself permission not to honor your goals and justify yourself. And then make a plan, such as – if that thing happens to you to derail you, what will you do or say to yourself to overcome it?
• "I shall redeem you."
Look under the hood.
This refers to the deeper levels of our mental schema. It's one thing to take a Jew out of Egypt but quite another to take Egypt out of the Jew. The Jewish people had to be rebuilt from the ground up to unlearn the internal constructs of slavery, "upgrade their operating system," and understand what it means to be genuinely holy.
"Fake it till you make it" is a methodology whereby if you keep doing something externally, eventually, it will become a valid internal reality. I've never had much luck with that. If you are having real difficulty realizing your goals, you may need to get to the root of the hidden beliefs and fears blocking you. It would help if you tuned into the whispers of your inner voices to avoid getting very frustrated and not even knowing why. So, having trouble with making a positive change doesn't mean you are a loser or incapable of change, but you need to figure it out, and I stand for the proposition that it's all figureouttable.
• "I shall take you to Me for a people."
Step into your higher purpose.
If you saw the movie The Matrix, when the humans finally won the war against the machines, they all broke into a furious delirium of physical gratification. And then what was supposed to happen? Freedom is not the same as a free-for-all. God's purpose in taking us out of Egypt was to give us the Torah and create a new relationship between man and God.
The “Be-Do-Have” Exercise
One of the ways to increase awareness and tie all the steps together is the "Be-Do-Have" exercise. Start with one of those three words and build a concept around it with the other two.
For example, you may want to "be" more internally validated. As an internally validated person, what would you "do?" You would make authentic choices. You would "stop" caring about what others may say and care more about what they think about themselves. You "stop" being a compulsive people-pleaser. You would understand the "temptation" of falling back into old thinking patterns and be gentle with yourself as you make this change. You would "look under the hood" to understand where your need for approval and validation came from. And in so doing, what would you Have? The peace and joy of living with "inner purpose" can create authentic relationships and healthy boundaries.
You could start the process by deciding what you want to "do" differently. Who would you "be" if you did that thing? And what would you "have" as a result? Or start with something you want to "have" in your life. What do you need to "do" to bring that about? And in so doing, who would you "be?"
On my desk sits a framed quote by Thoreau: "Be not simply good; be good for something." The purpose of freedom is to learn the discipline of growth. It's a practice. As you incorporate a new positive change in your life, it's not a stand-alone idea. Look for ways to broaden and share your process and purpose. Allow it to evolve into higher and higher goals. Create a vision. Live with purpose. Make a difference.
Internalize and Actualize:
Reflect on a painful experience from your past that you find difficult to move on from. How does holding onto this experience affect your relationships and overall well-being?
Explore the idea of avoiding temptation and creating an if/then strategy. Identify obstacles or circumstances that derail your progress toward positive change. What specific actions can you take to overcome these obstacles and stay on track?
Try the "Be-Do-Have" exercise. Choose one word (be, do, or have) and build a concept around it using the other two words. Reflect on how this exercise can help create a more authentic and purposeful life.
P.S. If you would like a copy of the "Be-Do-Have" exercise, email me at email@example.com
adapted from an earlier version of this article published in Whole Being Institute.org.
to read the original with comments, click How the 4-Step Process Can Lead Us Toward Positive Change