In Novardok they said, “The Pope never sins, but we do.”
This is a gentile mentality; that you have to be perfect.
A Jew derives simcha just by serving Hashem; not by being Mr. Perfect.
We enjoy doing Teshuva.
We are positive about our faults.
We realize that you just have to try your best.
"The Torah was not meant for the angels" (Gemaras Brachot 25:b, Yoma 30:a, Kiddushin 54:a).
— Rabbi Yehuda Mandel
Bitachon Weekly Bamidbar/Shavuos 5782
(I still remember coming across a Pope who begat 10 illegitimate children even as he sat on the Papal throne. And that does not even begin to cover the Popes who won their role by assassinating the previous Pope or terrible fake trials, tortures, and slaughters carried out on their orders.)
The 2 Main Problems with Toxic Shame
To 2 problematic consequences:
(1) Toxic shame prevents teshuvah.
Because a person refuses to acknowledge his flaw exists OR he acknowledges it, but minimizes it by considering it cute, clever, or funny...then he never works on it.
He never tries to uproot it or fix it in any way because, hey, it's not really there.
(2) It causes a person to live a lie.
You aren't your negative attributes. They aren't even your fault at their root; Hashem placed them there because HE DOESN'T WANT YOU TO BE PERFECT; HE WANTS YOU TO WORK ON BEING PERFECT.
(But WITHOUT getting neurotic about achieving perfection or not being perfect. Because actual perfection is NOT the point.)
If you ultimately manage to perfect yourself, then that's because Hashem allowed that to happen.
But that's not the point. The point is the work and the ratzon/desire to improve.
(A lot of people are not destined to actually achieve conventional self-perfection. For many people, their self-perfection is paradoxically their lack of success. Please see here for more explanation: www.myrtlerising.com/blog/what-if-you-lean-more-toward-esav-than-yaakov-avinu-the-perfect-mitzvah-for-imperfect-people)
Your soul is pristine and holy; THAT soul is the REAL YOU.
How to Fight Toxic Shame & Embrace the Real You
If people don't feel how society insists they should feel, if we suffer compulsions and desires deemed unwholesome or forbidden...then we feel like, "Ooh, this is the REAL ME. So bad. I better cover it up—even from myself!"
But really, our attitude should be like: "Gosh, I've got some pretty serious faults. Well, what else is new? That's exactly how Hashem designed things! The Torah was created for people just like me! Yippee-yay!"
And also: "My flaws and guilty pleasures do not indicate the real me. The real me is my beautiful and pristine neshamah."
Again, the mere existence of our flaws, desires, guilty pleasures, etc., do NOT reflect on us.
HOW we RESPOND to our negative attributes reflects on us.
And also how we respond to our positive attributes...do we even acknowledge them?
Please note: I've no connection with Bitachon Weekly; just find their material uniquely amazing & wish to spread this wonderful dose of sanity in an increasingly insane world.