Category Archives: Resilience

How to Conquer Negative Self-Talk

3 minutes to read

You make a mistake or cause a major foul up. What’s the audio loop that plays in your head? Does it include words like stupid or bonehead? Do you accuse yourself of always messing up or never getting it right? Given the choice between a benign spin on your actions or berating yourself do you inevitably choose to give yourself a couple of swift kicks? You’ve embraced negative self-talk.

How to Conquer Negative Self-Talk

You Cannot Control Your Thoughts

Despite all of the articles and blog posts purporting to teach you how to control your thoughts you can’t. Harvard University psychologist Daniel Wegner’s research has shown that trying very hard not to think about something almost guarantees that you will think about it. But you don’t need a Ph.D. to know this is true. Think about the last time your spouse or child criticized you. The harder you tried to forget it the more often it came to mind. Perhaps just reading this article has stirred a recollection of some regrettable blunder. Sorry about that.

Part of the problem is we talk to ourselves all day long. But most of the time we pay little attention to the dialogue going on in our heads. We focus on upcoming tasks or music. These drown out harmless daily musings.

We’ve been conditioned to reject positive self-talk. We fear that if we verbalized these thoughts, we’d be labeled conceited or narcissistic. So, like our neutral self-talk, we habitually discard the upbeat things we think about ourselves.

That leaves negative self-talk as the only inner voice we embrace. No wonder when something goes wrong you hear your inner critic loud and clear. It has an open microphone in your head and a captive audience.

Verbalize Positive Self-Talk

So if intentional thought control doesn’t work, what does?

Drown out the negative chorus chanting in your mind.

While general affirmations are fine, you’ll do better to write specific ones aimed at conquering the worst things you say about yourself. If your inner voice scolds you for lacking self-control, combat it by saying out loud and with conviction, “I am disciplined. I control myself and do not succumb to temptation.”

When recommending this to a woman who sought my counsel she felt saying such a thing would be dishonest.

So is it true you’re always the negative view of yourself? I doubt it. The best way to make positive change is to see yourself as already having accomplished it. In that light, positive self-talk is more honest.

You may feel uncomfortable or silly at first. If so find a private place where you won’t be interrupted. I’ve used the shower and my car. Just like singing, you get nice resonance in the shower.

You cannot turn off negative self-talk. But you can conquer it by replacing the impulse to self-criticism with the habit of self-understanding. Some of the skirmishes will be disappointing but it’s a war well worth winning.

How do combat negative self-talk? Please comment below.

The Most Important Choice You’ll Ever Make

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Toldos – Genesis 25:19-28:9

What do you really want from life? You may think you know the answer but read on because you don’t. Whether you call it your mission or purpose (hint, they’re not the same) or just what you want, everything you are and do comes from one decision. The problem is you’ve probably not ever consciously thought about it. Parshas Toldos explains your two choices:

“…two nations are in your womb and two regimes from your insides will be separated….” (Bereshis/Genesis 25:23).

The Most Important Choice You’ll Ever Make

At the beginning of this Sabbath’s parsha Jacob and Esau are born. Esau sells his birthright to Jacob for a pot of lentil stew. Then a famine forces Isaac to move to Gerar where he disputes with the Philistines and makes a treaty with Abimelech. Esau marries two Hittite women. Next, as Isaac lays dying, Rebecca conspires to get the blessing of the firstborn for Jacob leading to Esau hating his brother. Isaac admonishes Jacob not to marry a Canaanite, after which he flees to Bethuel’s house. Esau marries a third wife. Who needs Dynasty?

Kingdom and World

Virtually from the moment of conception Esau and Jacob fought. Rebecca feels the dispute in her womb. When she asks G-d what’s going on, He answers with the above line. This was no every day in utero sibling rivalry.

The Midrash describes Esau’s nation as a kingdom and Jacob’s as a world. The differences are stark. Kingdoms seek conquest and plunder, epitomized by the Roman Empire, the descendants of Esau. Rome’s armies were invincible, her pleasures the bloodthirsty entertainments of the coliseum.

In contrast, there are two worlds: this world and the World to Come. While the essence of this world is physical, it cannot exist without its spiritual dimension. The World to Come is purely spiritual. Plunder has no meaning. You need only conquer the lesser aspects of your nature.

Your Most Basic Choice

While it doesn’t feel like babies kicking your insides, the battle between desire for kingdom and world rages in you. Each time you speak or act, you’re choosing which one you want. If you’re tired or upset and yell, make demands, or try to control people, you’re building a kingdom. You may conquer your family members. They’ll put up with a lot. You might be able to dominate friends and co-workers, at least for a while.

When love motivates your words and actions, you’re building a world. People may not know why, but they want to be around you. Your professional knowledge becomes precious to them. Family, friends, and colleagues implicitly trust your counsel on personal matters.

Notice that in both cases people will listen to you. The difference is why. Rome had one goal: To be feared. Subjects dread their monarch. Such is the nature of kingdoms.

When you decide to build a world you choose pursuit of wisdom over coercion and self-control over displays of temper. You recognize conflict must be minimized and handled to create growth.

It seems like the most important choices you’ll make are whether to be an employee or business owner, marry, or have children. Before all of these and so many more decisions comes the most vital of all: will you build a kingdom or a world?

Question – What is one of your criteria for making this choice? Please leave a 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!

Can You Love Enough to Let Someone Hate You?

2 minutes to read

Love is easy when you’re on vacation or going out for a nice dinner. And I’m sure your hearts merge when watching your kid win the big game or give an amazing performance on stage! But when your spouse spews vitriol you need every ounce of patience to listen without retaliating. After all, if he loved you he wouldn’t treat you this way.

Can You Love Enough to Let Someone Hate You?

Love & Hate Aren’t Opposites

People automatically think the opposite of love is hate. But as I’ve written previously, the opposite of love is indifference. Rebuilding a marriage infected with apathy is much harder than when the “pots and pans are flying.” But long before divorce becomes a consideration a lot of bitter words can be exchanged. When this happens the tendency is for one or both partners to withdraw from the relationship. The seeds of permanent disinterest have been sown.

Ideally, such arguments won’t happen. But a conflict-free marriage is very rare and may not be desirable. Even if you are naturally inclined to an even temperament, the stresses of life can take their toll. Of course, it would be better if your partner didn’t let off steam in the marriage. Nonetheless, since it’s going to happen better be prepared.

Disengage to Preserve Love

Rather than battling it out, the best way to maintain lifelong love is to withdraw when you’re attacked. You don’t have to physically leave, although that might work. Instead of thinking about your next verbal volley, intensely focus on anything other than the person. Especially if your partner’s rant has no basis, engaging will only make it worse.

The ultimate test of love is your willingness to endure someone temporarily hating you. By being indifferent during the argument, you can minimize the long-term damage. When the episode has passed you won’t be wrapped up in negativity. You’ll be better prepared to repair whatever harm has been done.

By using such planned bouts of short-term apathy, you can prevent the more permanent kind from taking root. And, you’ll keep the bond of love in your relationship alive.

How do you minimize the negative effect of arguments on your marriage? Please comment below.

The 3 To-Dos that Guarantee Daily Success

3 minutes to read

Success means different things to different people. Therein lies its challenge. Unlimited possibilities make choosing difficult. What if you settle on the wrong definition of success? Years will be wasted pursuing the wrong option. Fortunately certain basic elements to a successful life will help you narrow the alternatives while propelling you toward your objective.

The 3 To-Dos that Guarantee Daily Success

Daily Action

Even if success for you means winning the lottery, it won’t happen useless you take consistent action. You’ll have to find lotteries to play, buy tickets, and check results. But assuming your plan relies on a more assured path to success, daily action is even more crucial.

Hard work directed to achieving your goals is the only route to success. If you want to spend your days lounging on the beach you’re going to need to amass enough wealth to do so or work daily on suppressing your desires. Artists must consistently pursue their art. Entrepreneurs must constantly be serving their clients.

Energy and Focus Are Key

Sustainable performance requires stamina. Dissipate your energy pursuing things that don’t lead to success and you’ll have nothing left for the to-dos that count. So before you do anything else you have to decide what you want. Without a target to focus on you’ll get lost.

Once you know where you’re going, you have to have the gas to get you there. Continuous performance must be supported with physical, mental, and spiritual energy. Run short of any of these and your journey will end.

The 3 Essential To-Dos

Creating a routine is the best route to consistent behavior. The power of habit requires a lower expenditure of energy, leaving you more to deal with the creative challenges you’ll face striving for your goals. Make these three tasks part of your daily regimen:

  1. Plan your day the night before. Write down your to-dos with your goals in front of you. This helps to insure your work is meaningful. The benefits of planning the night before are:
    • Knowing what tasks you face the next day allows your brain to work on them while you sleep;
    • You won’t waste time in the morning figuring out what needs to be done;
    • There’s less of a chance you’ll get distracted by a tempting diversion that isn’t going to get you to your goals.
  2. Recharge you mental and spiritual batteries before taking on the challenges of the day. Such prayer has three aspects:
    • Express gratitude for what you have in your life. Family, friends, rewards received, and trials to overcome, all should inspire thankfulness.
    • Affirm the person you seek to become. Identify the one or two qualities obstructing your success. Find or create a declaration to instill them in yourself. For example, if you lack self-assurance, proclaim you are confident and why.
    • Reiterate your commitment to the G-d. Nobody achieves success alone. By stating your desire for a relationship you align yourself with the infinite power of the universe.
  3. Counterintuitively, exercise increases your energy level. In or out of the gym, moderate or heavy, get your body moving. Outdoors you can enjoy fresh air (even in Los Angeles). Work out at least 20 minutes in addition to warming up and cooling down.

Whether you aspire to world-class achievements or have your eye on more modest success, make these three to-dos part of your daily routine. The focus and energy they give you will propel you forward like nothing else.

What daily to-dos drive you to success? Please comment below.

How to Guarantee You’ll Change Your Life

3-1/2 minutes to read

Did you follow through on your new year’s resolutions this year? Have you lost 20 pounds? Did you increase your income by 25%?   Is your marriage stronger and more loving than it ever was before? For most people making such change requires transformation. Achieving them is hard. Nothing you’ll ever do will come close. Lifelong beliefs have to be overturned, eradicated from your mind and spirit.

How to Guarantee You’ll Change Your Life

The Two Sides of Change

The motivation to change comes from one of two places: Pain and Aspiration. If you’re not in touch with at least one of them you won’t change.

Consider the case of being overweight. I had been disgusted by my appearance for years. But the discomfort didn’t last long because there were no full-length mirrors in my home. Getting married changed the pain equation.

Was I going to continue to eat myself into an early grave and leave my wife a widow? What example was I setting for my wife and children to be? Whose svelte physique might capture my wife’s attention after the bloom of marriage wore off? Two months of these tortured thoughts made the pain of borderline obesity unbearable. It got me through two years of constant hunger. They made transformation achievable.

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The other motivator, aspiration, must be felt equally deep. You probably want a six-figure income. But do you crave it? Do you dream about it? Can you describe to me why you have to have it? List for me what you’re willing to sacrifice to earn it. Will you abandon comfort? If not, you’ll never get it.

The Source of Persistence

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” ∞ Theodore Roosevelt

You probably already know change requires discipline and persistence. But where do these qualities come from? Some argue they’re innate. Geoff Colvin, author of the exceptional book Talent Is Overrated, says it’s possible people are born with various levels of self-discipline. But his research shows your belief about inborn passion and discipline is far more important. Convince yourself you are disciplined and you will be.

Before you’ll change you have to hate where you’re at now or be infatuated with where you want to be. Nothing less will do.

How to Build Pain and Aspiration

To build pain into your life set up a confrontation with what you hate every day. Get on the scale each morning. Tape a picture of what you want to look like on your mirror and compare yourself to it each night. While doing these say out loud, “I will change. I will loose 20 pounds. I will become the new image of me!” Write down what reaching your weight-loss goal will mean for your life. How will it positively impact you, your spouse, and your children?

Why must you earn a six-figure income? What will it allow you to do? What hated thing won’t you have to do when you have this income? Make your answers vivid. Find pictures to tape to your mirror that illustrate how you life will look.

With both of these processes, you may feel a little silly at first. Good. You’ve taken the first step toward transforming outmoded lifelong beliefs.

What part of your life is framed and most vividly envisioned? 

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

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