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From Rabbi Brian 37/40

OY Thinking

Putting others before yourself.

OY is the classic Yiddish word of exasperation. (I heard it a lot as a kid.)

OY Thinking is the mindset where the desires of others are given priority above your own needs.

O = Others

Y = You

Are you guilty of OY Thinking?

Answer the following question to find out: Have you recently agreed to something for someone that you didn’t want to do?

OY Thinking is endemic amongst “nice” people who find it easier to caretake others rather than to be honest.

(Also, being “selfless” often looks good.)

But, to be healthy, functioning adults, we need to put ourselves first. If not we are willingly – and often unwittingly – committing violence against ourselves. Putting others first is both exhausting and unfair.

The recently deceased sage Thomas Merton wrote:

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender oneself to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. It destroys your own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of your own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom, which makes the work beautiful.

I’m not talking about being selfish – insisting on your own way to the point of doing things to others that you wouldn’t want done to you. What I’m talking about is putting our priorities in the right order.

I’m not saying that we oughtn’t take the concerns of others into account, and certainly, certainly, there are plenty of circumstances in which we need to put the needs of others before our own. (Parents, anyone?)

There is a very famous aphorism attributed to Rabbi Hillel (a contemporary of Jesus) which says:

If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And, if not now, when?

Spiritual-religious advice: Put a stop to your OY Thinking.


With love,

Rabbi Brian

Rabbi Brian

Rabbi Brian
Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer is the founder of Religion-Outside-The-Box.

Shortly after he was ordained as a rabbi, he left mainstream congregational life to encourage people to find and be with (the) God (of their understanding).

His day job is teaching advanced mathematics to Los Angeleno High School students. The rest of the time is with his family.

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