“Start from wherever you are.”

It sounds so obvious and easy.   Of course, where else could anyone start from.   Yet one of the biggest mistakes people make when looking to grow is starting from an idea about where they should be, where they want to be, where they’d like to think they are, and all sorts of other places other than the simple truth of where they genuinely are, no matter how far that may be from their desired goal.

Michal very much wanted to do Inner Torah work.  Yet each time she tried to work with the process she would get distracted and end up not getting very far.  “What’s going here,” she asked herself.   “Why can’t I do the inner work I’d like to do?”   Michal realized that the feelings she was having weren’t new.  She recognized that she didn’t have much patience, focus, interest, or even desire to hear much about what was going on in the lives of her children, husband, sisters, or friends.  And now, here she was, feeling the same way about herself.

It was hard for her to admit this.  She felt selfish for not wanting, or being able, to focus on and get into other people’s worlds.   And now, not being able to get into her own world when she wanted to, she felt incompetent as well.   Yet this was her true starting point.   She understood that it was only from here that she would be able to move in a way that would enable her to grow and develop the way she hoped.  Rather than judging herself, she needed to find out when and how this mechanism of shutting down in the way she now noticed, was set up inside of her.  She needed to trust that something in her life circumstances must have led a younger vulnerable part of her to close down in this way in relation to people.

Sure enough, as she went in, it didn’t take long to identify the overwhelming quality of her parents’ relationship – their intense fights and the fallout from them – that was too much for her throughout her childhood and adolescence.  She developed a way to tune them out and retreat into her own world.  And that tune out was still operating today with people she actually wanted to be able to take in.

Her willingness to admit her lack of interest in others, and even in herself, was the key here.  That determined her starting place.  Had she tried to fake it and start anywhere else, it wouldn’t work.  She had to start by getting to know the part of her that was not interested in herself or anyone else.