Are you confident in your ability to achieve success? Or do you shrink into insecurity and negative self-talk?
Is there such a thing as absolute confidence? How can we ever be secure and confident in a world in which everything is always shifting and changing?
True confidence must be connected with permanence. The only permanent thing in your life is your soul. Everything else in this world – your body, your material possessions – is transitory and ever-changing. Your soul, by contrast, is Divine; permanent and indispensable. “Soul” in this context means both your personal soul and all your “soul” activities, like love, children and all the eternal things that you create in your lifetime. Thus, true confidence is rooted in the soul. Deep inside every single person is the source of all confidence. To feel confident, you must be in touch with your true self.
But all people have souls, so why are some more confident than others? Because the soul is very elusive in this material world. The soul is trapped in a very powerful physical body, which never ceases to beckon us with all its needs and temptations.
The soul is like a pilot flame. It is always burning, intact. Yet, it must be fanned in order to make its impact. Blocked arteries (G-d forbid) will not allow a healthy heart to properly pump blood to reach and nourish the bodily organs. Security comes from a connection to your soul, an awareness of your soul’s power, resulting in a profound self-confidence in your soul’s capacity. So we have two voices within us: the secure voice and the insecure one. The confident voice and the unconfident one.
The insecure voice is the one that identifies with the impermanent things in our lives. The more we immerse ourselves and worship the transient materialism of life, the stronger it feeds our insecurity. Yet we also contain an unwavering resource called our Divine souls, which can provide us with absolute confidence. This is the challenge of life: The material world was fashioned to convince us that we have no true confidence; no reason to feel secure. How then do we access the inner confidence of the soul?
Simon Jacobson in his book Toward a Meaningful Life presents a roadmap to your true self — the capable and resilient person that lives beneath your insecurity. It’s up to us to see beyond the transient curtain and access the confidence of our souls, which is our true and rightful heritage. The journey to discovering your absolute unconditional value and innate security is like peeling an outer shell to reveal the fruit inside. Get to know your real self and live deeply with peace and confidence.
Each of us has been given distinct talents and abilities, and it is our responsibility to share them in a positive way. A leader must lead, a teacher must teach, a writer must write. A skill that you take for granted may fill an indispensable need for someone else, or may have a far greater impact that you could have imagined. It is your obligation to regularly ask yourself how you can use your unique abilities to improve your world.
One must never doubt his ability to help. “What can I really accomplish?” we ask ourselves. “Who will listen to me?” Every person has been given the abilities to illuminate his corner of the world, no matter how small it may be.
As history continues to show us, humanity is a continuum — something that happens in the farthest corner of the planet will eventually affect your life. In earlier generations, we were far more isolated, and may have been able to insulate ourselves and our communities. But that is plainly no longer the case. We interact with each other at every turn, at every level; personal standards influence universal ones, and vice versa.
We cannot afford to remain on the defensive, waiting for trouble to happen. Ignorance and aimlessness are not neutral; they are active, destructive forces. Each one of us today must take responsibility for our fellow man. In order to help each other, of course, we must first help ourselves by being properly educated and prepared. But in times of great need, it would be foolish and selfish to wait until we reach a state of total personal perfection before reaching out to help.
You must not fear leaving your comfortable environment for a world that sometimes seems hostile, for as in many matters, the challenge of a new situation draws out a level of determination you never knew you had. After all, your very life originates from G-d uprooting your soul from its comfortable spiritual environment and transplanting it to a foreign, material world.
There is but one condition for fulfilling your responsibilities — that you are connected to a divine and absolute code of ethics and morality. By depending on your own subjective views, and by letting your own personality dictate your actions, you may do more harm than good to yourself and to others.
Besides our responsibility to ourselves and our fellow humans, we are also responsible for the environment around us. The human being is the jewel of creation, but every single thing in our physical world — animal, mineral, and vegetable — has also been charged with divine energy and purpose, and must be treated as such. The environment is sacred and no man has a right to destroy it; we are invited to take advantage of its elements only as they relate to our mission on earth. So yes, we raise animals and vegetables for sustenance, we cut down forests to build houses and schools, and we extract fossil fuel from the earth to keep ourselves warm. But unless we are using the environment responsibly, for wholly productive purposes, we must protect it as vigilantly as we protect ourselves.
We all live in the same world. If one person is pain, we should all feel it; if one person succeeds, we should all benefit. Each of us has been given the choice to see this underlying unity or to look the other way and worry only about ourselves, even at the expense of others. Responsibility is one of the greatest gifts G-d gave us — the gift of being active participants in the dynamic unfolding of the world’s destiny. We must never ignore this gift. In the delicate balance in which the fate of the world hangs, it may be one deed of merit that tips the scale.
THE WISDOM OF THE REBBE
Epilogue: The Rebbe as The Messiah?
References and Notes