Will Breslov Teachings Turn Me Into A Narcissist?

Max LiebermannDear Breslov Woman,

Breslovers are always talking about finding your good points.

If you focus so much on your good points you’ll probably turn into an egomaniac.

Whatever happened to humility?


Dear Beth,

Amazing!  This important question was asked (in slightly different words) by a learning partner as well as someone attending a recent class. Clearly your concern is shared by others.

Finding and focusing on your good points cannot lead to arrogance or narcissism if the good points you focus are nourished by emes, truth.

Truth in this case requires an awareness of the Divine Source of all your good points and the Divine Source of your own neshama (soul). The Divine Source of your soul is Truth. And paying attention to the things you do which make this truest, deepest self blossom is a necessary ingredient of self-actualization.

Good things you’ve done might include giving charity, helping a neighbor, praying, cooking a healthy meal for your family or other hungry people, learning Torah, smiling at a store clerk, allowing someone else (like a spouse) to “win” an argument, teaching your child Aleph-Beis, spending time in hisbodedus (prayerful meditation in which you talk directly with Hashem in your native language), and so on.

On a deeper level, anytime you use your talents or predilections for true good, in order to move closer to Hashem or to honor Him or reveal his Glory, you create another point of goodness.

Of course, it’s important that we don’t keep all this looking-for-the-good-stuff to ourselves; we must extend this compassion to others and look for the good in them, even (and perhaps especially) in people who rub us the wrong way.

Remember, we do not know the extent of another’s good deeds, they could even be a hidden tzaddik.

The Rebbe is clear: We must appreciate our good points, and this should bring us to joy, yet we must also be profoundly, truly humble. We keep in mind that we are literally non-existent without Hashem, Whose constant Attention and Flow sustains our existence.

The joy we attain from recognizing our good points frees our consciousness and gives us the head and heart space to connect with G-d through prayerful meditation and other forms of prayer.

But, back to your question. If you take pride in good points such as your amazing talents or your beauty, wealth, power, or even your creativity, intelligence and knowledge, all of which are gifts from Hashem, without acknowledging their source, then yes, you may will probably become arrogant.

It’s only when you choose to harness the energy of your talents and other resources to fuel spiritual growth, kindness to others, and other mitzvos, that they become true good points worth the recognition of a great soul like you.

With Joy,

Chaya Rivka

Send your questions to: chayarivka@breslovwoman.org. Your letters might be edited for length. They can be anonymous. If you prefer, you may ask questions or comment in the Comment section below each post.

Note: If necessary, I may ask a Breslov rabbi to advise me on aspects of your question.

Painting by Max Liebermann.


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