After spending my daily hour in hisbodedus during Elul and Rosh Hashana devoted to identifying unhealthy thought patterns, I discovered three major thought patterns that I deemed “unhealthy” (actually there were more but they are too sensitive to write about here). These thought patterns are worry, guilt, and comparison (i.e. comparing myself to others in any manner – even spiritually).
As I spent time trying to discover the root of these thought patterns and understand how they manifested themselves in the course of my day, it became abundantly clear that I could only start correcting them if I first started controlling the stimuli that I allowed into my eyes; the main entry point to my mind. I also concluded that I needed to focus on exposing myself to “Healthy Yiddishkeit”; reading and listening to shiurim from those people who I feel help me begin to heal my unhealthy thought patterns. (Please know that I am not so narrow minded to think that “Healthy Yiddishkeit” can only be found in Breslov.)
To begin controlling the stimuli that entered my eyes and prevent my mind from returning to unhealthy thought pattens, I limited myself to viewing just a few Torah-related websites a day. I felt that was crucial for me to start doing this because I am a working man who sits behind a computer screen for 8 hours a day and I am subject to a daily bombardment of pictures, words, and ideas that are all trying to lodge themselves into my mind. In addition, I unsubscribed from 90% of the e-mail lists that I receive after concluding that only 10% of my e-mail helped me avoid the thought patterns of worry, guilt, and comparison.
In a short amount of time, I have found my learning, davening, hisbodedus, and dealings with other people have all been exponentially stronger. Following these practices that cut through the white noise of unhealthy stimuli that surround us all has helped me forge a new and more personal connection to Hashem, the Chumash, and the teachings of the Rebbe.