A Second (Bad) Self

“There is a second self inside you, an inner, shadow Self. This self doesn’t care about you. It doesn’t love you. It has its own agenda, and it will kill you. It will kill you like cancer. It will kill you to achieve its agenda, which is to prevent you from actualizing your Self, from becoming who you really are. This shadow self is called, in the Kabbalistic lexicon, the ‘yetzer hara.’ The yetzer hara, Steve, is what you would call Resistance.”

Rabbi Mordecai Finley, in conversation, July 4, 2010

Rabbi Finley

Rabbi Mordecai Finley of Ohr HaTorah congregation in Los Angeles (one of the few rabbis who was a U.S. Marine) is a mentor and friend to me. When I was working on Turning Pro I invited him to breakfast and turned on the tape recorder. The quote above is one of the things that popped out. I came upon it again recently and it struck me with even greater power than it did the first time.

My own conception of Resistance has always been (probably mistakenly) that this force of self-sabotage is “out there” somewhere. I experience it as radiating off the blank page or invading my brain from some other, extra-dimensional location.

Rabbi Finley sees it the other way.

He sees it as a “second self” that lives inside us.

Somehow, to me, that makes it even scarier.

It’s like a sci-fi movie. Like the first Alien.

The first thing I say to myself when I think of Resistance this way (and I do think Rabbi Finley is right) is, Why would our Creator pull such a trick on us?

(Or, if you prefer, Why would Nature/Evolution have evolved us this way?)

Whatever our answer (and I’ve got one for myself), the subjective reality of a “second self” seems undeniable.

This second self seduces us with distractions and excuses. It terrorizes us with visions of our own defeat and humiliation. It whispers to us in the night (and in broad daylight), convincing us that we are without worth, talent, dignity, resolve, courage.

It runs us down.

It sells us short.

It sabotages our best efforts.

It will kill us, as Rabbi Finley says, if we let it.

I declare on the Home Page of this site

Trust me: you will NEVER, NEVER achieve your dreams until you learn to recognize, confront and overcome that voice in your head that is your own Resistance.

The key word here is recognize.

Paradoxically (and aligning perfectly with Rabbi Finley’s statement above) as soon as we recognize this “second self,” fully acknowledge its existence, and grasp the fact that its intentions toward us are diabolically negative, we have found the strategy and the weapon that will help us overcome it.

Awareness first.

Respect for this foe second.

Then: determination and resolution to overcome it.

Our first self is our real self. It is in a battle to the death with our second self.

Which will win?