Why are New Year's resolutions so hard to keep?
Do we want to change enough to really commit ourselves?
What are some basic strategies to do and be better?
These and other critical questions are addressed in this archive episode of The Rabbi and the Shrink.
1:00 Repentance means a return to the straight and narrow through 1) stopping the improper behavior, 2) feeling remorse, 3) verbalizing our apology, and 4) planning a strategy not to backslide into old behaviors. Without a specific, concrete plan we have little chance of achieving lasting change.
4:00 The story of the first time Rabbi Goldson observed the Sabbath according to Jewish law, which demonstrates that the promises we make to ourselves may be the most important promises we keep.
9:30 Many people are not good to themselves, which may be why ethics really does start at home. What do you do to take care of or honor yourself?
11:00 Is there any sin that is truly unforgivable? According to the sages, only seven biblical figures totally forfeited their share in the world to come through actions that led others to sin.
13:00 Start with achievable goals. Find accountability partners.
15:00 Are there do-overs? Aside from the most egregious and lasting harm we might cause, we should be able to hit a reset button and commit to better behavior than wallowing in regret or resentment.
If a sin leads me to set higher standards for myself, then it actually becomes metabolized into something positive.
18:00 Look at the past with fresh eyes, recognize each party’s responsibility, evaluate with empathy, identify what needs fixing.
We are heroes and victims and witnesses in almost every situation. We need to ask ourselves: how do we become heroes?
21:00 There’s no app for being ethical, and there shouldn’t be. It’s by grappling with gray areas that we develop our ethical muscles.
When it comes to our errors, we can always make ourselves better, but we can’t always repair the damage we’ve done.
23:30 Moderating our response to others’ mistakes, especially children.
25:30 The Nazi officer asked a camp inmate for forgiveness. Should the Jew have forgiven him?
28:00 Does mental illness exempt a person from culpability? But it shifts responsibility to seeking help and to those in a position to help. Sometimes we just have to struggle with the impossibility of finding closure.
33:00 What was, what can be, and what should be, is the path forward.
Continuing behavior should not be forgiven unless it is uncontrollable or no effort is being made to control it. The evils of sarcasm.
39:00 Word of the day: incogitant -- thoughtless, careless, or lacking the faculty of thought. We have to be thoughtful to be ethical, but we also have to balance high standards against reasonable expectations for others and ourselves.
The Hebrew word for rebuke shares its root with the word for vindication.
42:30 How do we understand the biblical command not to bear a grudge? We can’t control our feelings, but we can control whether we act on or articulate our feelings.
We don’t have to say everything we think. Only speak when it’s likely to do some good.
47:00 If two people both think they’re doing the right thing and they disagree with each other, how do we reconcile their different perceptions?
Schedule a time to discuss disagreements; don’t ambush people.
“I’d like to understand your point of view.”
54:00 How do parents confront school policies or actions by the school that the parents see as unethical. Often a third party intervention can de-escalate conflict.