Category Archives: Relationships

How to Keep Your Spirit in Balance

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Metzora – Leviticus 14:1-15:33

Self-improvement is hard. First you have to figure out what needs fixing. Then, you have to find a system that will deliver results. Because it’s intangible, spiritual improvement is the most difficult. I almost pine for the old days described in this week’s parsha, Metzora:

This will be the law of the metzora on the day of his spiritual purification. (Vayikra/Leviticus 14:2)

How to Keep Your Spirit in Balance

This Sabbath's parsha tells how a metzora, someone with tzaraas (a spiritual disease contracted because a person’s life is out of balance), and a house with a tzaraas become tahor, spiritually purified. It also details how a zav, zavah and niddah become tahor.

The Plague of Spiritual Imbalance

The Kabbalah, a compendium of Jewish mysticism, says tzaraas comes from life being out of balance. An hormonal imbalance causes acne during puberty. It shows up in skin becoming swollen, red, and even pus-filled. So too, a metzora’s spirit is out of equilibrium. It reveals its presence through a leprous-like affliction.

In time, a young person’s body adjusts to the increased hormonal output. Balance returns and the acne goes away. Hopefully it leaves no permanent scars. A metzora experiences a sudden increase holiness. While this is a great thing, it takes time for the person to adjust. Over time the person will rise up to the new level of sanctity and regain spiritual balance. In the meantime, tzaraas serves as a reminder that further work is necessary.

So, the loss of the ability to contract tzaraas is a mixed blessing. It is embarrassing for a person’s shortcomings to be displayed in public. But, he misses out on a tangible motivation to elevate himself.

The Modern Day Alternative

Most people have a default mode for handling life. Is yours one of these?

  • Chesed– Loving-kindness
  • Gevurah– Justice and Discipline
  • Tiferes– Harmony and Compassion
  • Netzach– Endurance
  • Hod – Humility
  • Yesod– Bonding
  • Malchus– Sovereignty and Leadership

In addition to your primary mode, you are probably pretty good at using a couple of the others in this list. The challenge comes when you’re presented with an issue that cannot be handled within your existing frame of reference. Perhaps you tried solving a problem but it blew up in your face instead. Or you’re procrastinating because you do not know how to approach it.

You need to stop trying to force people to enter your world rather than gaining the skills to enter theirs. When you recognize other people’s modes, you have a valuable tool for problem solving. And you’ll avoid hurricanes while navigating through life.

Each year, beginning on the send day of Passover, the Omer is counted. By following it, you have the chance to practice understanding many approaches to life and experience their nuances. Such training prepares you for higher levels of holiness. You enhance your ability to build relationships with other people and the Almighty.

Like any new skill, you must be intentional to grasp it and make it an integral part of yourself. Each night the count introduces you to a new concept that your minds can ponder while asleep. Then you can explore it the next day through deliberate acts according to the day’s theme.

You can get my free 49 Days to Refine Your Character tool by signing up for my email list. Enjoy the benefits of expanding your repertoire for creating successful relationships!

How do develop your spirit? Please comment below.

 

Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Make a Stellar First Impression

2-½ minutes to read

You have seven seconds to make a good first impression. Of course this assumes the other person has never met you. But in these days of pervasive social media, it’s easy to know a lot about you. The people you’re meeting with about a job or business have checked you out on LinkedIn and Facebook. Before you cry Google-stalking, think about it. Prudent business dictates knowing about the people with whom you’ll work. In all likelihood you have given a first impression long before you meet someone in person.

How to Make a Stellar First Impression

A Less Than Stellar First Impression

Since your online persona will precede you, consider what shapes it. In a face-to-face meeting, most people want to appear humble. They don’t brag about themselves or their accomplishments. Often they take it too far. They avoid talking about their achievements. Instead they recite their skills. By what magic can the person intuit the great benefits such skills will deliver?

Yet these same people thing nothing of posting embarrassing pictures on Facebook. They use unprofessional headshots on LinkedIn. These pale compared to ranting on social media about things they dislike. They attack the beliefs and politics of anyone with whom they disagree.

Overly humble as they are in a meeting, modesty is thrown out the window online. Neither makes a good first impression.

Humility verses Modesty

The solution is simple. Ratchet up modesty, scale back false humility. Consider increasing your online decorum:

  • Images. Before posting that hilarious picture, how funny will it be if a potential employer or client cites it as the reason for not hiring you or giving you their business? Is he really an old fogey or is it valid to question your maturity? People want to know you’ll exercise sound judgment.
  • Complaints. Other than getting it off your chest, what good does complaining in public do? Are you going to start a mass movement? Will people spontaneously engage in a boycott? How do you like being publically humiliated? Leaders know to compliment in public and reprimand in private.
  • Politics. What you post online may outlive you. When I searched my name I found my address from college. The World Wide Web was not launched until 10 years after I got my degree. Do you know for a fact that everyone who disagrees with your views is stupid, evil, or traitorous? Reasoned debate is one thing. Insults under the guise of honesty may cause you lifelong harm.

At the same time, humility need not prevent you from highlighting your accomplishments. Be:

  • Truthful. Give the plain facts of what you’ve done. What does it mean that you’re effective or dynamic? Leave out the superlatives and adverbs.
  • Specific. Are you very experienced? According to whom? If you’ve been in a field for 23-½ years people will figure out you’re experienced. Quantify your achievements. Now you can test whether the person perceives your value. If he doesn’t will you be able to meet your objectives working with him?
  • Confident. Braggarts use lofty words and talk a lot. Speak succinctly. Know what you want to say. Look the other person in the eyes when you talk. Connect with him.

Be modest rather than humble. Make self-discipline and authenticity that builds relationships your goals. They will lead you to success.

Why do you have difficulty promoting yourself? Please comment below.

Being Brutally Honest Makes You a Liar

2-½ minutes to read

Authenticity is the rage in personal development. Everywhere you turn writers (me included) encourage you to be genuine. With so many exhortations you would think everybody goes around wearing masks and deceiving other people. The constraints have been lifted. Be brutally honest. Remember your authenticity is at stake. You don’t want to commit the sin of phoniness!

Being Brutally Honest Makes You a Liar

Act How You Feel

If you’re mad at a coworker, rip him with profanity. If your kid irritates you for the hundredth time, scream at her to stop. Spew invective on Facebook. Tweet 140 character assaults. Being authentic means you can say and do whatever you want without penalty.

Or does it?

What will happen to your job if you give a colleague a verbal dressing down? Gone, right?

How will you child respond to your bellowing? Alienation?

Why would someone hire you when your social media attacks people and ideas they may agree with?

Do you want to be an unemployed misanthrope?

Perhaps you’ll have to refrain from expressing brutally honest emotions. After all, we teach children to stop throwing temper tantrums. Oh well, it’s only a small compromise of your authenticity.

Who You Are Going to Be

You’re probably frustrated about not having something in your life. Maybe it’s more money or a solid marriage. It could be the time and resources to travel or pursue a hobby you love. Will being brutally honest do anything to get you what you lack?

Is your deepest need to express yourself uninhibitedly? You’ll never get to without suffering consequences.

Or is your frustration actually about something else? If this is the case, being brutally honest with people will make it even more difficult to get what you want since the only way to fill your needs is by helping others fill theirs.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can mistreat people under the guise of being authentic. Genuineness comes from behaving in a way that fulfills your deepest aspirations. Indulging the childish side of your nature bespeaks immaturity. Staying true to the best image you have for yourself is true authenticity.

Venting your frustration, verbally or through social media, may make you feel good. But it’s only authentic if your goal in life is to alienate as many people as possible. You know from your own experience, the success you’ve had thus far in life has come from cordial interactions with others.

So stop lying to yourself that being brutally honest expresses the true you. Let your actual authenticity shine through in being the person you wish to be.

How do you stay focused on being your ideal person? Please comment below.

How to Handle Relationship Problems Lovingly

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Terumah – Exodus 25:1-27:19

You can express unlimited passion when loving your spouse. The challenge comes when you need to deal with relationship problems. The temptation is to let the matter slide in order to avoid an argument. But allowing resentment to build up can cause you to fly off the handle. The passion that should be reserved for positive emotions spills out in a flood of negative energy. Permanent damage to your marriage can be the result. In the interaction between G-d and Moses in Parshas Terumah you’ll find a better way:

“…And I will speak with you from atop the ark cover from between the cherubim that are on the Ark of Testimony…” (Shemos/Exodus 25:22)

How to Handle Relationship Problems Lovingly

This Sabbath’s parsha details the plans for the Mishkan or portable Sanctuary in which G-d rested His Presence during the Israelites’ wanderings in the wilderness. Such ordinary materials as copper, linen, and goatskins are turned into a holy abode.

G-d Doesn’t Just Talk to Moses

G-d could have spoken to Moses anywhere and at anytime. But the Almighty knew this would overwhelm Moses. Instead He established a comfortable mode for communicating.

The ark was located in the Holy of Holies, a place of unsurpassed tranquility. The wings of the two cherubim provided a shield over the ark, in essence protecting it from harm. The distance between the cherubim was about a cubit, approximately 18 inches. G-d revealed Himself only in this safe environment and to this limited extent. By regulating His awesome presence, the Almighty created a pleasant connection with Moses. When G-d delivered difficult messages, Moses felt His love because the Almighty restrained Himself. Intimacy and endurance were the hallmarks of their relationship.

Intentionality Is Key in Relationship Problems

Rarely does trouble in a relationship get better with age. So ignoring problems is not a viable way to keep your marriage on track. If you follow the model G-d used with Moses, you can avoid a potentially explosive situation with your spouse.

  1. Chose a place of serenity. Send the kids to a friend’s house, turn off phones, and get rid of any other potential distractions.
  2. Surround you and your spouse with symbols and love and security. Light a fire in the fireplace or light some candles. Sit on the floor amidst pillows.
  3. Begin by affirming your desire for maintaining intimacy and a lifelong marriage.
  4. Talk about enough of the problem that the issues are clear, but don’t belabor your points. Limit expressions of hurt. Strive for understanding by your spouse. Don’t punish him.

Taking the time to create the proper setting and retaining self-control will show your good intentions. Such a demonstration of caring will turn a problem into a path for deeper respect and love.

How do you prepare your spouse to hear about problems? Please comment below.

 

Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Have a Supportive Spouse When Stress Skyrockets

2 minutes to read

Transitions, hard times in general, really test a marriage. Changing jobs, moving, and dealing with health issues cause stress levels to skyrocket. Leaving military life means you’re dealing with at least one and perhaps all three of these. Even the most mundane interaction can lead to an argument. What could be an exciting time of growth morphs into an exercise in preventing a divorce.

If you do two things you’ll decrease tension, make a smoother transition, and improve your marriage.

How to Have a Supportive Spouse When Stress Skyrockets

Give Up the Mind Reading Act

While you may have loved guessing games as a kid, they have no place in a marriage. Especially during transitions and other times of high stress they only make matters worse.

There is no amount of love that enables your spouse to read your mind. So she does really love you despite being clueless about how you need to be supported. Perhaps at some point during your relationships your wife told you, “If you really cared you’d know what was wrong!” Well she was wrong about that. And the midst of a high stress transition is no time for payback.

Tell your spouse how she can support you.

If you’re not sure, talk to her about what’s bothering you. Be open about your anxiety and fears. Acknowledge you don’t know what you need. Decide together how she’ll be supportive. Plan another time when the two of you will sit down and assess how it going.

Accept Your Spouse’s Support

If you want a supportive spouse be open to the help your partner offers you. Remember, it’s what you asked for or agreed to try. Still, it may not feel right at first. Give it time. Don’t let the desire for immediate release from stress ruin what may work.

Trust your spouse’s intentions, insight, and love. Your acceptance of support is a key component in its effectiveness. If after trying it for a few days you don’t feel supported, thank your partner for the good intentions behind the attempt. Then figure out a new plan together.

John Florio said, “A good husband makes a good wife.” It’s equally true that an open and trusting spouse makes a supportive spouse.

How do you get the support you want from your spouse? Please comment below.

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