The Battle of the Generation - Day 36
Our weekly excerpt from the book "The Battle of the Generation"
Chapter 16- When We Are Caught Off Guard
No matter how well we prepare ourselves, there will be times when we are surprised by desire. Our urges activate and cloud our perspective, and suddenly we want to give in. We must learn how to “snap out of it” and escape the clutches of our desires so we can think clearly once again.
Desire causes us to become confused. This confusion is the result of a subconscious internal battle between our logical and emotional parts. The two sides fight back and forth, and we find ourselves thinking, “I want to do it . . . But I don’t want to do it! But I do want to do it! But I don’t want to do it!” We are unsure about what we really want. This often gives the upper hand to our emotional part because it is naturally stronger, and we are in danger.
One way to overcome confusion is to clarify what each part of you desires. Ask yourself what each part of you wants while viewing them as independent entities. Think to yourself, “I feel a strong urge to fulfill my desires, but I will first take a step back and figure out what the two forces within me want. The logical part of me realizes what will happen if I give in and what I gain by standing strong. It knows that doing right will leave me best off, and it wants me to make that choice. But another real part of me desperately wants to give in and makes me feel that I need it. This is how I feel. I must accept that as a fact I must deal with rather than feel inferior for my desires, because desires were created by Hashem and are part of life. Anyway, denying my desires won’t make them disappear. I acknowledge that I want to give in and yet I will not.” Be specific with what each side wants, and jot it down on paper for additional clarity.
Isolating the two sides and understanding each side’s goal helps us snap out of confusion. We are able to think about each side rationally and then strengthen our logical part so we choose correctly. And our resolve to succeed will be so much stronger since it won’t be swayed by confusion.
A similar way to do this is to figure out what the yetzer hara’s goal is and what your goal is. Ask yourself, “What does the yetzer hara want me to do? Oh, he must want me to do this, and if he cannot get me to do it, he wants me to at least do that. My goal (the way to success) is to act in this manner without being affected by those feelings. I want to make sure not to do that action even if those feelings start to affect me.” Figure out what the yetzer hara would like you to do, and then figure out what your goal is by asking yourself:
- What does Hashem want me to do?
- What is the opposite of what the yetzer hara wants me to do?
- Which choice will lead me to greatness, and which will result in misery?
If you are still confused, ask yourself, “What is the right thing to do?” This question usually enables us to pierce through the darkness and regain clarity (Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier, Shmuz 9: “Akaidas Yitzchak,” www.TheShmuz.com). It makes it easier to realize what we must do.
Clarifying the yetzer hara’s goal and our goal is a vital technique. It helps us see clearly and maintain that clarity throughout the battle. And even if we are caught off guard and face raging desires, identifying the two voices pulling us in opposite directions helps us escape confusion. By viewing each part of ourselves independently, we can regain clarity and determine our goal. We can make the right decision and be more determined to win. The stronger we become, the easier it will be to use this technique during battle, and the more powerful it will be.