Question from member "wilnevergiveup":
I am a serious avreich learning full time, I learn mussar regularly and constantly strengthen myself with various incentives. I can then usually keep myself clean for 2-3 weeks, then this or that and I am back to square one. I will then go through a phase of a few days with no control, depression, feeling awful about myself and what I did. Usually after a few days of this I tell myself that Hashem doesn't want be to feel guilty (at least not this way) because the guilt/depression is causing you to act out (and Hashem obviously doesnt want that...).
This helps me get out of the rut, however, I can't seem to stay clean for more then 2-3 weeks. It can be anything from a hard day to seeing something etc.
Reply from DavidT:
From your post it seems that you are a very special individual. You worked so much on yourself and got very far in life. You might not realize this because the yetzer hora is trying to fool you with his clever tricks.
To start I want to point out a few things that will give you a clearer perspective on these issues and some chizuk for going to the next level.
1) Hashem created desire. Not you. He gave it to us as a test, a charge to win our battles and reach greatness. Pretty much any desire you experience is normal. Everyone gets it and must fight through it. Never blame yourself for your impulses. All that matters is what you do with them.
2) Hashem wants to provide man with the opportunity to win his battles and truly accomplish. Challenges are only there to make us great! Succeeding despite the difficulty is the point of life! The harder it is, the greater it makes us.
3) We should not be harder on ourselves than our loving Father Who made the rules. If we mess up, we should give ourselves a pat on the back for working so hard and then plan how to get back on the right track. Then we should regret our mistake, do teshuva to clean it up, and move on. No matter what happens, we must remember that although our battles are tough they are also opportunities to succeed and reach greatness.
4) We must never forget that Hashem loves us despite our sins. No matter how badly we fall, Hashem still cares about us. He never gets angry with us, no matter how badly we sin.
5) When we stumble, we must remember that we sinned out of weakness, not rebellion. We might sometimes be overpowered by strong desires, but deep down, we want to be good. There will be times when we make mistakes. That is normal, because we are human. We must also be sure that our sins don’t destroy us by making us feel ashamed of ourselves. Instead, we must get back up, dust ourselves off, and continue to chase our aspirations.
6) A plan involving gradual change often is the best way to attain self-control. A person should start by focusing on one area of his battle against desire. He should firmly commit himself to keep a certain halacha or aspect of self-control. Alternatively, he can decide to exert self-control in one particular common situation.
7) It is important to stay motivated. One way to do this is to celebrate your successes. Take small steps toward change, and celebrate each time you get it right. Also, spend time thinking about the emotions you felt when you decided to change. Think about what you want to change, and exactly how you want to act when you face particular challenges. Then close your eyes and visualize yourself making those choices.
8) No matter how strong we become, we still need to work daily to stay alert and ready for the yetzer hara, who can strike at any moment. If we are unprepared, our feelings will instantly change, and we might even desire what we thought we would have no interest in. We cannot know exactly how the yetzer hara will make us feel. We must be ready so this does not happen.
9) When we are caught off guard, we instantly change and our battle against desire intensifies. But if we catch ourselves and remember ideas that grant us clarity, we can overcome this incredible challenge and achieve some of the greatest successes ever.
10) The yetzer hara is our biggest enemy. He works within our heads to destroy us before the battle even begins. By learning how to defuse his arguments, we will deal him a crushing blow in the most challenging and encompassing battle of all!