Rabbi Gershon Avtzon/The American Israelite
What do people mean when they tell you that “It is all in your head?” Usually, it is a disparaging remark. When you are complaining to them about a personal issue that you are experiencing – usually connected to anxiety or fear – people might respond by trying to convince you that the source of your issue is only imaginary and thus it would be best to just forget about it.
While it is true that many times a person must learn to ignore their imaginary fears and not allow themselves to become lazy and unproductive, there are many people that are actually struggling with anxiety and/or mental illness. When they receive this classic response, it only aggravates their internal issues. They now feel completely rejected and misunderstood. They walk away from the conversation feeling blamed for their issue instead of helped — or at least understood. It is very important not to be dismissive of anyone that has overcome the internal struggle and is willing to open up and share their inner thoughts and feelings.
There is also another meaning to the words “It’s all in your head”. If you ever listen to motivational speakers, you will find a common theme to their message: Your success in life is not so dependent on your natural gifts and abilities as much as the attitude that you love your life with. Your positive and winning attitude will be the greatest impetus of your success.
Dr. Jeff Browne and Dr. Marke Fenske have written that “contrary to popular belief, winning in life has little to do with IQ, your circumstances, your financial resources, or even luck. But, it has everything to do with creating a failure-resistant brain. Every time you think a thought, feel an emotion, or execute a behavior, your neural-circuitry changes, and the good news is you can take charge of this process.”
This is a very inspiring and uplifting message, for it removes the natural basis for our laziness and lack of productivity. Many of us allow ourselves to be lulled into a mediocre state of performance, by telling ourselves that we are not as naturally gifted as our neighbor or classmate. By understanding that the internal attitude is the real key to success, it really puts the responsibility where it belongs, on each and every one of us.
Why are we discussing this topic now? We are approaching the High Holiday season which begins with Rosh Hashanah. While the words “Rosh Hashanah” are understood to mean the beginning of the new year, it actually translates as the head of the year. The forty-eight hours of Rosh Hashanah are not just the first two days of the Jewish calendar year; they are the head of the year and we know that “it is all in your head”. By investing our focus on the prayers and the Psalms that are said, and making sure that we have a truly meaningful Rosh Hashanah, we are creating the real vessel to receive the blessings for a successful and happy sweet new year.
The highlight of Rosh Hashanah is hearing the sound of the Shofar. It is our internal wake-up call. This is an important message articulated by the great Jewish sage Maimonidies: “Even though the sounding of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah is a decree, it contains an allusion. It is as if [the shofar’s call] is saying: Wake up you sleepy ones from your sleep and you who slumber, arise. Inspect your deeds, repent, remember your Creator. Those who forget the truth in the vanities of time and throughout the entire year, devote their energies to vanity and emptiness which will not benefit or save: Look to your souls. Improve your ways and your deeds and let every one of you abandon his evil path and thoughts.”
There is also another message of the shofar; It is the sound that reflects our acceptance, and coronation, of G-d Almighty as our king. We are laying the foundation for an entire year of dedication and service. It also serves as a reflection of our deep request — which is the prophecy of Isiah (27:13): “And it shall be on that day, that a great shofar shall be sounded, and those who are lost in the land of Ashur and those who are banished in the land of Egypt shall come and bow down to G‑d on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.”
Wishing each and every one of you “Shana Tova” and may we all be written and signed for a happy and sweet 5782 filled with true Jewish Nachas.