Fixing Broken Hearts
Spiritually, when you hurt somebody, you’ve just broken something precious - not just the trust of that person, but that person’s very soul...
I’ve been a psychotherapist for 35 years, and I can literally count on one hand the number of people I’ve met who I would really call an “adult” in the complete sense of the word. Adults have self-control, they don’t just react to external stimuli the way children do.
But most people are not in control of their emotions and therefore claim that they have a right to fly off the handle and attack others and force them to go along with their way of thinking.
Where does the anger come from? Most people believe that anger just somehow mysteriously enters into them.
But the opposite is really true. They are actively seeking out the anger and other negative emotions that they are experiencing and they have any number of unconscious “strategies” to engineer situations and justifications to enable them to spew their anger and impatience on other innocent people. OK, maybe it’s not a conscious decision, but you’re unconscious is still part of you and you are responsible for learning how to tame it.
Spiritually, when you hurt somebody, you’ve just broken something so precious; not just the trust of that person, but that person’s very soul. Rabbi Arush teaches that we can break someone when we use violent speech or actions. So now the question is: can we actually fix what we’ve broken?
I heard a beautiful example that illustrates this from Rabbi Elgrad: In the physical world if we break an expensive vase, it’s gone. It’s simply impossible to pick up all of the shattered pieces and to put the vase back together again. When we yell at other people, we are literally breaking the souls, spirits and hearts of the people we supposedly love the most! From a psychological perspective, it isn’t possible to completely heal the shattered parts of that person so that they feel towards you and towards themselves like they did before they were broken. But from a spiritual perspective there is a way to fix the mess that you’ve made. It’s called: repentance.
What does it really mean to repent? Very simply, it just means that you come back to G-d. G-d doesn’t want your self-persecution and self-affliction, and He doesn’t expect you to be perfect either. He just wants to see that you are ready to move in a better direction, and to chart a new path for yourself, even if it’s only a millimeter or two… Many people have trouble believing that small gestures and movements towards improving themselves, can really have any value. But if you talk to any golfer, they’ll tell you that a millimeter or two when they are teeing off can make all the difference between hitting the hole-in-one or landing in the water.
If you’ve broken someone, you have to say “I’m sorry” – and you have to say it like you mean it, with passion and love, and not just say the words by rote. You have to say sorry to anyone that you’ve hurt, and in particular, you must say you are sorry to your children and spouses.
G-d gave each and every one of us the ability to have healthy, normal, loving relationships. How do I know that? Because G-d simply wouldn’t send us down here, with all the challenges we face every day, and all the challenging people and difficult personalities we have to deal with, without the wisdom to know how to handle all of this.
Heaven is watching and recording every little thing we do, and we’re all going to be held responsible for every single second of our lives. One of the areas that is constantly being looked at in Heaven is how we are doing in our interpersonal relationships. “Upstairs”, there are no “justifications” and no “excuses”: Heaven has already given us all the tools we need to create healthy, better relationships, where people can grow together, and where all the conflicts disappear. It’s our job to seek this knowledge out, and to actively incorporate it into our relationships.
So how can we do this? How can we get rid of all the strife, and all the anger, and all the arguments and disagreements? It’s really very simple: we just need to acknowledge that all those conflicts were never real in the first place. They were just the circular crazy pattern that the Evil One got us sucked into.
Now think of one person in your life that you would like to have a better relationship with. If it’s a person that you have hurt, the first thing that you need to do is to clear the decks, and to apologize for whatever you’ve said or done in the past that wasn’t appropriate, nice, or fair. If your apology doesn’t work the first time, keep going back, again and again, until the person realizes that you’re not going to give up until you have a warm, trusting and loving relationship again. Let them see that you are going to do whatever it takes to get there, even if you have to apologize twenty times. You will surely see many blessings in your life from this.