A few weeks ago, I found myself taken aback by the bizarre and abrasive behavior of a medical practitioner. For the first time that I could remember, I had completely forgotten about an appointment, and she called to berate me. Yes, it was my fault, but I think I may have subconsciously avoided the appointment due to the aggressive communication we had had thus far.

I had a sense of what I was getting into when I chose to go with her—I was warned about her bedside manner—but she cameShe screamed at me for minutes on end highly recommended by multiple people, and I did not have the energy to keep looking for other options. So I went with her and geared up for the journey.

But I was not prepared. She screamed at me for minutes on end, as I sat there, unable to get a word in, feeling terribly guilty and ashamed for the missed appointment and having wasted her time. There was no calm talk of paying for the missed appointment and then rescheduling, but rather vicious attacks on me as a person. Eventually, I interjected an apology—possibly too emotionally, considering that mistakes do happen, but she had unsettled me.

Many times during that conversation, I should have put the phone down. I did not need to listen to her offensive ranting. Her behavior was inappropriate, rude and unprofessional, but in the moment, I doubted myself and wondered if she was right and whether it had to do with me.

After the phone call, I felt terrible. Why was G‑d putting me through this? I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that everyone we meet comes into our lives for a reason. I have always felt this intuitively, and as I learned more about Judaism, I saw that this was backed up by our sages. Nachum Ish Gamzu, despite great poverty and illness, remained joyful and used to say, “Gam zu l’tovah” (“This, too, is for the best”). His student, Rabbi Akiva, used to say in Aramaic, “All that the Merciful One does, He does for good.”

So what was the purpose of this encounter? Was it to be offered the opportunity to confront her and stand up for myself, and to not allow her to treat me and speak to me that way? I didn’t think so, as I can speak up for myself when necessary. And when I tried, she was not able to receive my words, anyway.

A week or so later, recounting the event to a very dear friend, I was blessed with this insight: This woman’s attacking voice was familiar—it was my harsh, critical inner voice personified (and amplified).

When I saw this behavior in the medical professional, I could see clearly (at least after I had digested everything) that it was absolutely out of line and downright abusive. But so often, I justify my inner voice as necessary and even motivating on some level, when it is really self-abuse. My friend helped me see what a blessing this encounter was. If I could see my inner critic as this woman with her associated lunacy, I would not allow myself to buy into it.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that when we look at the behavior of others, we are looking at a mirror. According to his “Mirror Theory,” when we observe character defects in other people, we are reallyI could clearly see that it was out of line seeing the undeveloped and unresolved parts of our personality. With this in mind, not only do I need to examine how I view and treat myself, but also other people.

Of course, we can only guess at the reasons why certain people come into our lives, but in this case it seems clear to me that it was an opportunity for self-reflection. I intend to hold onto the image of the practitioner’s voice. When I recognize it coming from within, my plan is to move on to a more befitting way of speaking to myself. I am not perfect, but I mean well and try hard, and I am a spark of G‑d, so yes, I am worthy of an inner voice that speaks with due respect. So, too, I will watch any judgment toward others.

So ultimately, my encounter with this practitioner was for the best. “All that the Merciful One does, He does for good.”