TheTorah itself is the revelation of an otherwise hidden God. The quientessential moment of revelation is of course at Sinai with the giving of the Ten Commandments. It is noteworthy that the very first utterance here is “Anochi Hashem – I am God”. Anochi - I, a word of ultimate selfhood. This is when the Ribono shel olam (the master of hiddenness) makes His Self known.1
Indeed, in all of our lives, we all want deeply, sometimes desperately, to be known...for the breath-taking truth of who we are to be revealed. And we all have different ways of pursuing this goal...some more healthy and some less. Sometimes we act out, we take up too much space..or we cower and shrink away lest our precious moment of self-revealing be botched or misunderstood. The revelation of self is an intricate art - involving balance and precision. We educate and train ourselves in all sorts areas of knowledge and expertise, why not in this one that is so germain to our deepest lives? We deserve to have education, tools, training and practice - to enact this art of self-revelation.
So here's a tool and practice for how to get in touch with your Anochi. Just as God began His revelation with an "I statement", we too best reveal our truths by starting at I, by knowing ourselves and speaking from that place of Anochi.
The tool: Always always Speak for Yourself.
Move from speaking in generalizations to speaking in personalizations...from talking about how 'people' feel this or that, to talking about how I feel this and I feel that.
Here's an illustration of Speaking for Yourself.
I have the honor and pleasure of facilitating women's groups. One of the objectives of the groups is to provide a safe space for people to give and receive valuable feedback and constructive criticism.
At the outset of one of these groups, one of the women gave a passionate speech on the topic of the frailities of human nature which she closed by saying, “Sooo, you better be careful, because people get really angry when they get constructive criticism.” Aha! - Now, it became clear why she was offering this oration on human nature. What sounded like a cautionary piece of advice was actually her using a generalization to veil her own truth about how she herself gets angry in reaction to criticism. I stepped in and told her about this handy tool of 'speaking for yourself'. I gently asked her to restate her last sentence as an “I statement”.
Slowly she repeated, “So, you better be careful, because I get really angry when I get constructive criticism.” She bit her lip and tears glistened in her eyes. She had spoken the fragile and important truth that was trembling under her generalizations about human nature and other people's anger. It was a moment of sheer revelation! It became a portal for her to encounter and connect with her deepest self...and opened the door for her to connect with others from that Anochi place of depth. When she spoke for herself she revealed herself.
Often times we unconsciously move out of personal language when the content is too sensitive. We actively cover up our truths. So actually noticing when we move into generic language can be a fabulous tool for self-awareness. In these days around Purim, practice the art of revealing well-hidden truths. The next time you notice yourself saying 'people' or 'you', catch it! Ask yourself, why did I do that? What truth am I covering up? What can be revealed by inserting the word “I”? And then notice the felt difference between the two statements.
Just as God began his self-revelation with Anochi....An invaluable key to revealing the highest, deepest and most divine parts of ourselves begins with uttering I, Anochi, and speaking for ourselves. Good Purim!
1The word for Olam, world, shares its root with ne'elam, the hidden, the disappeared. For the world is paradoxically the hiding place of God's presence.