One Dream. One Family.

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By: Mozelle Forman, Lcsw

Spring is here – nature is in the midst of a colorful burst of rebirth, renewal, and regrowth. We just finished our “spring cleaning” in preparation for Hag H’aviv– the holiday of springtime – another name for Pesach that reminds us when that this is a season of celebration and inspiration for personal growth.

When was the last time you tried something new? If you’re like me, you probably haven’t thought about “what do I want to be when I grow-up” since the fifth grade. There are many reasons for this – partly because we grew up and are involved in the business of being a grown-up, so we simply don’t have the time.

But every once in a while, we feel inspired, we decide to try something new. We want to engage in something meaningful, increase the family’s income, expand our knowledge, and live a healthier lifestyle. We are motivated to make a change. But then… something stops us in our tracks. That something is what psychologists call “self-defeating thoughts” – the pesky little voices of self-doubt that start to whisper, “No! You will never succeed.”

Self-defeating thoughts tell us we are not good enough, causing us to lose our determination to move forward to reach our potential. These thoughts limit us and scare us out of trying something new. They convince us that not only will we fail, but when we do, it’ll be too terrible to manage, so we shouldn’t even try.

Self-defeating thoughts have a mocking, sarcastic tone. They say: “What makes you think you can take that course? You were always terrible student.” They literally stop us in our tracks as we walk into the nutritionist’s office or the gym, telling us: “Why are you bothering? You’ll never lose weight. You are always going to be chubby.”

We all have these emotional blockers, our pre-disposed ideas about what we can and cannot do. Perhaps we heard these messages from our teachers, family, or society at large. Perhaps after trying and not succeeding we made decisions about ourselves and our abilities. Whatever the case, most of us have incorporated these self-defeating thoughts and have created our own self-critic.

The first step in silencing those thoughts is cultivating an attitude that the world comes with challenges, and you already have, or can develop, the ability to handle these challenges and be resilient, even when you fail.

Instead of telling yourself, “If I fail again, I might as well give up. I can’t stand the feeling of trying and losing,” say, “If I fail again, it will hurt for sure. But I’m building resilience and getting better at the rough and tumble out there. Plus, I might learn what I need to do in order to improve.”

Tips to Silence the Judges

Don’t listen to the lies– Self-defeating thoughts will come, but we don’t have to listen to them. Think of a small child who is told something she doesn’t want to hear. She covers her ears and chants, “I can’t hear you” with impressive volume. While we’re too mature to take such action, we can do so figuratively. Choose not tolisten, and fill your mind with other thoughts. Pray, and give yourself a pep talk. It’s hard to hear pesky voices when we’re talking.


Watch your self-talk– Muttering negative thoughts to ourselves about ourselves does us no good. Avoid the temptation to put yourself down. Instead, learn to compliment yourself.


Accept the compliment– When someone says something nice about us, we can choose to believe them. Remembering that people usually say what they mean can help. After all, most people give sincerecompliments. Don’t you? We can learn to accept those that come our way graciously.

At first this will seem difficult, because we've trained ourselves to believe that we have limitations. Acknowledge that you have a unique gift that needs time, attention, and nurturing. Be mindful not to neglect your dreams and invest in your ideal future. The truth is most of us radically under-estimate ourselves and our abilities. We don’t take time to celebrate our successes, we simply move on to the next task. Yet, we can probably catalogue every failed attempt or reason for not venturing out. Train yourself to live with the mentality that everything is possible.

Blossom and Succeed

Remember the winter landscape: bare branches, dried grasses, and leafless trees? Who would imagine that come spring those branches would burst back into glorious life? You can also blossom. Try something new! Challenge the judges in your head that say “you can’t” and prove them wrong!