I have been “bad.” I have given into a habit I am trying to quit; a habit I’ve struggled to quit since I was a teenager. I base my self-worth largely on whether I give in to the urge or am strong enough to hold myself back.

Now, yesterday was Shabbat, and this habit happens to violate a halachah (Jewish law) of Shabbat. Yet I felt I could not stop myself. There I was: a so-called observant woman, with the hot tray, urn and lights left on, noI could not stop myself problem, but helpless in the face of my compulsive urge.

Aware I was breaking Shabbat—even as I continued to exercise this fanatical and futile habit—I was bombarded by thoughts like “It’s too late,” “It’s done,” “Why stop now?” The perfectionist in me is a big believer in all or nothing and felt despondent by the already tainted-ness of Shabbat. Hand in hand, my yetzer harah (evil inclination) was throwing out comments like “You’re so weak,” “Hypocrite!” “You’ll probably never overcome this habit,” “Something big will have to knock you into shape—one day,” “What’s the point of starting again now, as this Shabbat and week ahead have been ruined.”

The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught that the most powerful mocker is the one within yourself.

But for a split-second, the lights go on inside, and I see clearly the flawed nature of these thoughts and how I am captive to them as if they are truth. For I know, on a deeper level, we are all imperfect human beings making mistakes, and hopefully, getting back up and trying again—and again.

Suddenly, it’s obvious that the voice spurring me on to not try at all is actually what is evil, and not the act itself. There is always hope and possibility. Sure, some challenges are harder than others, for reasons that run deep. But we can change direction at any moment.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe shared: “Know thatWe can change direction at any moment what you did a moment ago is irrelevant. All that matters is what you will do right now. Any voice that holds you back from moving forward—no matter how justified it may sound—any such voice is a voice of destruction and decay, not of growth and life.”1

With this in mind, my aim is to really listen to these voices that I allow to rule and ruin me. When it is the loud voice of doom or gloom, or shame and blame, I clearly need to oust that voice from its position and replace it with the voice of truth, love, understanding, empathy and support. The voice that whispers to us that we are OK, that our neshamah (soul) is whole despite our imperfections, that we are always connected to G‑d, that we are always capable of choosing the high road and that we should do so right now.

Despite what took place even a second ago, now is when and where I have the power to script my life—and I can do it.