I write about this way more over on www.spiritualselfhelp.org, but in the meantime, I thought I’d take a look at Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s ‘Sefer HaMiddot’, to get his take on what’s really underneath our main bad middot.
You can boil most bad middot down to one of the following:
While there are for sure a whole bunch of other bad middot we could add to this list too, if you try to follow them back to where they’re really coming from, you will find them rooted in one of these six.
If you’ve been following me over on spiritualselfhelp.org, you’ll know that I write a lot about the stress response, which basically divides into four main areas of:
The infographic explains it pretty nicely, but these basically correlate to the ‘base’ bad middot in the following ways:
Of all of these flattery is probably the least talked about, and the most difficult to really understand and to get to grips with.
You could describe flattery as people pleasing behavior – i.e. being nice to people because we’re scared of them, or are trying to get something out of them, as opposed to because we really want to be nice to them.
In his book on overcoming Complex PTSD, Pete Walker actually states that you can tell how threatening a person found their parents by how much people-pleasing behavior they engage in as adults, which is an interesting idea.
So, let’s get back to Rabbenu.
I was trying to figure out ‘what bad middot comes first’, because once we can untie the first sin in that bundle, the rest will fall away by themselves. This is what I managed to glean from the Sefer HaMiddot:
Rabbenu also says that sometimes, ANGER comes from bearing a heavy burden. (More on this another time, but sometimes those ‘heavy burdens’ the soul has to bear come from a previous incarnation.)
The infographic lays out the basic relationship between all these different bad middot.
With God’s help, let’s see if we can figure out together the progression of all these bad middot, and then bring it down to ‘real world’ level, so we start to understand what’s going on, what God is really expecting from us, and how we can start to heal ourselves – and judge other people with more compassion.
And all that before breakfast…
As you’re hopefully starting to figure out for yourselves already, bad middot are complicated.
They aren’t things we can just wish away, or suppress, or pretend that we don’t have.
God gave them to us, and He expects us to acknowledge them, and work on them. And BH, that part of the process is not as difficult, or scary, as we might think.
So, that’s what we’re going to be doing here on the blog for the next few posts, as once more people understand where all this stuff is really coming from – and how to really start getting a handle on it – Moshiach really can’t be too far behind.
NOTICE: The blog is only restarting at this address temporarily.
I will be migrating this blog over to a new site at: rivkalevy.com