Rebbe Nachman often emphasized that the biggest obstacles we face are in our minds. We simply don’t understand the spiritual potential we have to achieve personal greatness. Our inadequate belief in ourselves hinders us more than any obstacles we face outside of ourselves.
In this vein, Reb Noson of Breslov writes an encouraging piece in his magnum opus, Likutey Halachos, about how every one of us is capable of self-mastery if we simply believe we are capable.
“The main reason why people fall into the trap of sins and evil desires, especially for promiscuity, is that they don’t realize their own power. They foolishly think it is impossible for them to overcome this desire. But the truth is that one must believe in the power of their mind and their soul, that they have the power to overcome any temptation, even that of immorality. Even the soul of the lowliest amongst us certainly has the power to stand up against the whole world with all its temptations.”
Continues Reb Noson, “Don’t think that you should be ‘humble’ and minimize your ability by saying, ‘I don’t have a high and holy soul like the great tzadikim,’ as if it weren’t possible for you to ever become a tzaddik. This type of ‘modesty’ is forbidden. It is not modesty at all. It’s small-minded thinking that one must keep very far from because through this type of foolish thinking, one can fall into all sorts of temptations, especially immorality.”
“Rather,” says Reb Noson, “everyone must remind themselves that they have a very great soul, even the lowliest person. They must tell themselves that it is not fitting for them to be attached to temptation, and certainly not to commit an actual sin.”
May we all merit to remember the inherent holiness we possess within ourselves and to conduct all our affairs accordingly.
(Adapted from Likutey Halachos, Hilchos Kriyas Hatorah, 6)