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Trust Your Gut  - Except When You're Wrong - Humility  implores us to accept that we are wrong  much of the time

03/18/2020 05:27:03 PM


The word shanah in Hebrew means, “year.”  Thus Rosh Hashanah, of course, literally means, “Head of the year.” However, when we look deeper into the word, shanah, we find that at its root, it means, “change.”  And that in essence, more than “head,” rosh can refer to what is in the head, wisdom.  “Rosh Hashanah” can thus come to mean, “The wisdom to change.”  We find this same theme in the Hebrew word for month, chodeshChodesh at its root, means “new” or “renew.”  That with each waxing and waning of the moon, not only has a new moon appeared once again, but so have our abilities to shift our lives, our perspective, our energies, in this month, renewed as well. 

For most of us, this moment is indeed completely unprecedented and we’re all just trying to figure out how we are to respond.  It occurs to me that one of the most effective response-abilities we can engage connects us to this idea above.  That to approach a completely unprecedented moment with the same tools we usually draw upon is to miss the point that with each month and with each year, we can choose to change, to alter our approaches, to resist our usual tropes, and thus, unveil bigger pictures.

If you tend to be one who downplays and minimizes dire, or even mediocre prophecies of doom and gloom, this is probably a good time to ask yourself why:

  • Why can I not hear my spouse, my significant other, a normally trustworthy authority?
  • What levers of control in my life would that dismantle? 
  • How can I ease into the uncertainty of admitting there is something dangerous afoot?
  • And especially in the face of this moment, why am I afraid of acknowledging well-founded fear?

If you tend to be one who catastrophizes and often presumes the worst, shunning even well-founded counsel to breathe before articulating your worst imaginations, to focus on the blessings of life before identifying the curses, this is probably a good time to ask yourself why:

  • Why do I resist the attempts of others who wish to calm me down?
  • What do I imagine I could lose if I allow for the possibility that we’re going to be OK?
  • How can I give myself a break?  Who can I ask to be my shomer, my “watchman,” so that I can sleep a bit?
  • And especially in this moment, why can I not trust my own historical record that things have ever rarely, been as bad as I imagined them to be?

For each of us, there are different answers to these questions and I am sure that all of us can identify with both approaches, at different points in our lives and in the face of different kinds of circumstances.  What is crucial, I believe, is that we tzimtzum – reduce – our ego’s need to be right.  Our gut response to things may be what we’re used to, but it’s not always right.  Indeed, I would argue it's “wronger” more often than not.  And this is why we have two ears and only one mouth – to listen to others’ points of view twice as much as we articulate our own.  Indeed it may save both our lives and our souls.

Sat, June 6 2020 14 Sivan 5780