This is the no holds barred, let it all hang out honesty week. Not some public confessional. Just you and you. Time to look yourself in the eyeballs and admit that you’re going to have to do something powerfully different than you’ve been doing to get out of the slavery of mitzrayim.
The plagues (seven this week, three more next) represent the various ways we try to get our own attention. Whether it’s self-sabotage or external pressures, many of us–consciously or subliminally–buy into the idea that suffering is a pre-condition for change. Too often we embrace concepts like “no pain, no gain” or “needing to hit bottom” as a necessary part of self-liberation.
But the real opportunity of the plagues is the chance to face your psychological shadow and the daily habits that keep you tied in place, not yet able to make whatever shifts you’re working on and longing for. Soon you’ll get a chance to make the leap, to cross the Red Sea, leaving bondage behind. Now’s the time to get ready.
Each plague represents a chance for our inner pharaoh to lighten its grip. To move us closer to the shift. To help us rebel, and grow into who, what, or how we most want to become next. Each one also offers an opening, however briefly, of the heart. When this parshah says that in the face of the plagues, Pharaoh repeatedly hardened his heart, it means that the door to compassion has stayed closed. And you stay stuck.
Like any muscle, the heart can toughen up. But exactly the force that keeps it closed can also be used to open it. It’s time for your inner pharaoh to let go and let you grow. The key: you have to want change badly enough.
To be more precise, you have to want change more than you want safety. More than you fear it, or don’t think you deserve it, or maybe aren’t quite ready, can’t afford the risk, are afraid of what others will think, or whatever creative and persuasive reasons you’ve used to construct the bonds of your own mitzrayim.
Exercise: Make two lists. First, anything you want to change: body, job, partner, finances, home, don’t be shy. (Only your height and age are out of range☺ Remember, it’s truth time and you’re the only one who’ll see this. Don’t worry. You don’t have to tackle more than one issue at a time, though there’s sometimes great synergy to progress. Then list everything you think keeps you from moving forward. Dig deep and really push for the whys and hows as well as the whats. If you write, for example, not enough money, think about how and when you do spend for what. Ditto down the line on how you live. Plagues aren’t fun, so this exercise will likely push your buttons. That’s okay. It’s time to pull the masks off your inner pharaoh and find your own true face.