It is that time of the year. ...

Oct 4th, 2019

Israel Ellis Headshot

Israel Ellis


5 Min Read

It is that time of the year.  If you are Jewish, chances are you’ll be spending these High Holydays feeling judged before God.

The idea of being judged by a higher power is an acknowledgment that our actions and behaviors have consequences not just for ourselves but also for others.

If we are in fact made in the image of God, then our relationship with ourselves and others is the direct connection with the all-powerful.  “Will you forgive me for anything I may have done intentionally or otherwise?”  To actually forgive is therefore truly divine.  But, how to forgive?

Maimonides, the influential Jewish scholar of the middle ages, expressed that while atonement is between ourselves and God, forgiveness is between people.  And that “we must not be cruel in holding back our forgiveness”.

Acts of personal injustice can be so hurtful and impactful on our lives, that the resulting emotional baggage can be back-breaking.  Personal injustice can create the most confusing and conflicting emotions. It is easy to feel at fault, guilty, and as a result, alone. A crippling sense of emotional inferiority can develop, sabotaging your potential; dreams unrealized and talents under-utilized.

“The act of forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.”

Forgiveness does not mean that we excuse the actions of those who have hurt us. Ultimately, the vital realization that releases you from a cycle of pain is that the injustice is not about you. Recognizing you have been wronged is what demystifies the victimization and allows you to take back the power over your future.

A precondition for forgiveness is to relinquish the obsession with grieving. Why do we obsess if it is clear that our obsession sustains the hurtful cycle that started?  When we are unable to reconcile what we’ve experienced, we return to the injustice over and over again. What is worse, over time, is that we can start to take a sort of unconscious pleasure in returning to an obsession that wreaks havoc on our lives. Neatly stacking our injustice collections in our emotional closets, lending comfort when we fall short of reaching our potential.

Forgiveness is a process.  Recognize your hurt. You were wronged and what happened to you was unjust and undeserved. It is important to acknowledge the effect this injustice has had on your life. Allow yourself to feel angry, or vulnerable, or sad. By allowing these emotions to surface, you recognize that you are entitled to them; in doing so, you can take back the control that was lost when the injustice occurred.   At the same time, depersonalize the act and take the grievance story outside of “you”.

Find a trusted person who will allow you to tell them your story of grievance.  It is important to be able to vent and talk about our feelings and emotions. As social creatures, we gain strength and perspective from our interactions with others.   The trick of telling your grievance story is not to stop with the terrible things that have happened but to insistently continue the narrative as you become a hero in your own story.

A point of caution here, stories of grievance have a shelf life. There is a point of repetition where you risk becoming a broken record.  Don’t become trapped in this cycle. You get a limited number of passes before your story of grievance needs to evolve into a “hero story” — and this is the story you can tell over and over again. No one gets tired of hearing about a hero!  It is motivating and positive. A story of overcoming your grievance gives strength to others.  A positive story is a huge confidence builder. As you recognize your ability to overcome adversity, you unleash your creative potential.

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Sometimes, the hardest person to forgive can be yourself.  No one is perfect and we make mistakes, it is about being human. Give yourself a pass.   Self-compassion is sometimes the greatest gift you can give to yourself.

Forgiveness unlocks your potential for personal greatness by releasing the blockages that impede your emotional health and creativity. As soon as you give someone else that power, they are back in control and you are once again codependent and a victim. You must own your power in the same way you get to own your forgiveness.

Finding forgiveness is a very personal journey and for you alone to achieve.

As I experience these High Holy Days I do so with a reflection of where I have been this year and contemplate where I want to be in the year ahead.  If we are in fact made in the image of God then forgiveness is our faith.

…And just as I forgive everyone so should You grant me favor in the eyes of all persons that they should completely forgive me. (The Kol Nidre Prayer)

In Moving Through Walls I have narrowed the answers to four foundational principles. These ideas are tools to achieve the life you want to live. Embrace them and make them your own.

– Israel Ellis


I wrote Moving Through Walls out of a purpose to share what I have learned.

If you have a deep desire to find that road less travelled to your greatest self. Then you have likely come to the right place.

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Lets make the HERO WALL happen Be a hero, change the world! Tell your Hero Story Here

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YOU are the hero that will change the world!

Accelerators are the fuel for greatness. With every personal and professional project that we commit to and bring to the finish line, we increase the confidence we have in ourselves, the faith that others have in us, and our abilities to achieve larger tasks. But to open those doors, it starts with commitment. It starts with taking the shot. Just do it! as the famous ad campaign goes.

Mrs. Ellison, my grade five teacher, who at the time seemed older than God, would single me out because I did not have my lunch or because my work was not completed. She would hear no excuses. It did not matter to her that at ten years old, I had no one to make me lunch or that I would come to school in pretty bad shape. She would look me straight in the eye, a tremor in her voice, point a shaky finger at me, and say, “Young man, where there is a will, there is a way.”

In retrospect, I have to thank her for her unwavering lack of empathy for me, even if the appropriate action might have been to call a children’s aid society. She drummed that phrase into my head and it stuck. When I find myself in front of what appears to be an impenetrable wall, I recount her words, often saying them out loud in a chant-like fashion.

This mantra has kept me pushing and persevering over the years. There is always a way to move through walls. I have moved through many in my journey, and I will move through more. The commitment to moving through walls reminds me that by keeping stock in my faith and asking the universe to deliver, I will find that crack in the dam and a trickle of opportunity will make its way through to lead me to the next great place on my journey.

Challenging ourselves and pushing the boundaries of what we think we’re capable of is a powerful accelerator. Accelerators related to physical endeavors can be particularly powerful. By persevering through physical discomfort, we learn to access new sources of confidence and motivation. Not to mention, it keeps you looking and feeling great, which is an accelerator all on its own!

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Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to tell a story in six words. He came up with the famous six-word story: “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” Inspired by this story, Larry Smith of SMITH Magazine challenged others to try to write their lives in six words.

I thought this idea was quite the challenge. How could you encapsulate a life in six words? I was struck by both the brilliant simplicity and the enormity of the challenge: sum up the total sense of who I am and what I believe and package it in a six- word micro-memoir.

I was stumped. For several days, I considered what impact these six words would have on how I value myself. Six words does not allow for any excess; it requires the writer to focus in on what is most important. The exercise took on a new challenge for me. I realized it was asking me to distill my life down to my core essential truth.

When I eventually committed my six words to paper, I felt a great wave of relief come over me. I was calmed by its truth: Living my Life on my Terms. In six words, I captured the feeling of the gratefulness I felt and how far I’d come to understand what a gift life is. Every time I see these words they continue to strengthen and inspire me.

Try it yourself. What are your six words?

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A point of caution here: Stories of grievance have a shelf life. There is a point of repetition where you risk becoming a broken record. No one has the patience to listen to the same grievance over and over again. Grievances can also eventually manifest themselves to include things that did not happen. People who have chosen to dedicate their lives to bearing crosses often become so obsessed that they lose the connection to what really happened.

Don’t become trapped in this cycle. You get a limited number of passes before your story of grievance needs to evolve into one of “heroism”—and this is the story you can tell over and over again. No one gets tired of hearing about heroism. It is motivating and positive. A story of overcoming hardship gives strength to others, and every hero deserves to share their story.

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“If you are meant to be on the path that you are on, the universe will find a way, even when you can’t. When you realize this fact, you will have stumbled upon one of the secret ingredients for success; if you focus on “what” you need to happen—you articulate your goal—the universe will supply the “how.” That is the power of faith. ”

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“If you put your best foot forward and do everything within your power, you will come to a place that is your destiny. “Believe” that you are loved. “Believe” that you have value. And “believe” that you are an important part of this vast universe, one that is a far better place because you have chosen to pursue your greatness, and in doing so, have affected the world in ways that you may never become aware of.”

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"People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of."
-Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

It’s a beautiful summer morning on the ocean, and the perfect wave is coming in. You’ve spotted the wave, paddled hard to be in the right position to catch it, and now you are on the top—on the crest. You lean in, commit yourself, and tip the board forward. You invite the surging force of the breaking water to take over, and the result is a massive jolt of acceleration. Looking back, it seems as if everything that happened was pre-destined, there is such perfect harmony between yourself, your purpose, and nature. In that moment, riding atop the surge, is acceleration. 

"I have trust in my intuition, powered by the confidence that comes from past achievements. I have done it before; I can do it again.”

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“Foundation 4: Forgiveness

The final foundation is forgiveness. When an injustice has been perpetrated against you, it can be incredibly difficult to heal and move forward. That said, when we hang on to the anger that resides deep within us, it tarnishes the soul and blurs our ability to envision and realize the future we desire. To move forward, we must prevail and overcome. But how? How do you move on?
The chapter on forgiveness was the hardest and most personal for me to write. For a long time I struggled to forgive people who had hurt me, but in my journey I realized that only through forgiveness can we unlock a future in which we become the best versions of ourselves. That future is worth the discomfort of being vulnerable. ”

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“What I call the four foundations—openness, faith, future, and forgiveness—are principles that we can use to change the way we interact with the world. These foundations will be the topics of Part One of this book. Our perception—how we see the world around us—is shaped by our life experiences. In our earliest years, we form many of the biases we carry throughout our lives; these biases often predict how we react to the world around us and prevent us from making the changes necessary to living our greatest lives. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We all have the potential to become mindful of our biases and loosen their grip upon us. With conscious effort, we can achieve a state of being that aligns with who we want to be, not where we came from.People often say that change starts with altering actions and behaviors, but I believe this statement is a case of mistaking means for ends. We start the change process by having a vision of who we want to be or what we want to accomplish. Only then will our actions and behaviors change to accommodate that vision.”

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