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The Power of Words

The Power of Words - Transcend Recovery Community

A few simple words can change your entire world. The difference between “I believe in you” and “I don’t believe in you” is a mere four-letter verb. But, oh, how much better do you feel when you hear the first of these two statements?

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sachs said, “God created the natural universe with words. We create – and sometimes destroy – the social universe with words”.

In today’s world, we can both ingest and share information with just a few clicks at any given time. The Internet and social media constantly expose us to others thoughts and beliefs and give us the opportunity to share our own. And, as we all know, this can both benefit and harm us. For every message of positivity, it sometimes seems like there are three negative to follow. It is my belief then, that words hold more power than we can sometimes imagine or often recognize.

The Internet and social media only exemplify the power of our words. But every message and thought we share with the world, both online and offline, can truly change a life and a community.

I’ll admit that I’m a sensitive guy. When someone says something hurtful to me, I really take it in. And the things I say to myself can be the most destructive. To be quite honest, self-directed statements like, “You’re a failure. You’re a fraud. I don’t believe in you”, produce more anger and shame than words anyone else says could.

The social destruction Rabbi Sachs spoke of doesn’t happen overnight or even with a few statements over time. It happens when we continually choose to accept prejudice over tolerance. Cruelty over kindness. Hate over love. It happens when we aim to belittle and tear others or ourselves down with harmful and derogatory words. It happens when we speak out of fear and anger versus decency and compassion.

Conversely, words have the power to awaken peace and positive transformation in the world. We can use our words to lift someone’s spirit, to pray, to remind others of their value. We can be the voice of compassion, the voice of love. When we’re down, we can change our thoughts and feelings by telling ourselves that we will be OK, that we are strong, that we can succeed and that we can overcome.

This week, create a narrative that makes you feel happy and well. Keep that narrative going and choose words and statements that serve to make others feel happy and well, too. It may seem like a small change, even silly, but try it. And let me know how you feel at the end of the week. How did others respond to your new narrative? When you use words that promote love and security, I anticipate you will get the same in return.

Unconditional Love, Accountability, Community

-Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community

The Power of Unconditional Love by CEO & Founder Asher Gottesman

I have been thinking about the transformational power of unconditional love and the impact it has. I sometimes see the results of unconditional love immediately, sometimes I never see the results, and then there are those times when the results pay dividends forever!

When I give unconditional love, I am of service to someone else without any expectation of reciprocity. I have no agenda other than to support and nurture the other person.

About six years ago I picked up a young man at the airport. He was homeless, penniless, and, emotionally and physically bankrupt. I brought him to one of our Transcend sober living houses where he proceeded to sit on the floor. I asked him, “Why do you sit on the floor?”. He said, “It’s a Jewish holiday where we mourn the destruction of the temple. I must sit on the floor and fast”. I looked at this young man who was literally on deaths doorstep and I said, “Not only will you sit on a chair, but you are going to eat a meal, too. The only thing God cares about right now is your well being, and don’t worry, if it’s a sin, then I will take the punishment for you”.

About one year after this incidence, the young man wrote me a Father’s Day card and in it he said, “When you told me to sit on a chair and have a meal, it was the first time in my life that someone expressed to me how important I was, that I mattered. It was then that I decided that I’m worthy of being sober, that I’m worthy of creating a life worth living”. Today, this young man is married, has two beautiful children, and continues to live a life worth living.

Who would have thought that by me expressing that God’s love for his children is more important than the individual commandments and that our well-being comes first, these words would have such an everlasting impact? I realize that it was an act of service to show this young man that he mattered and that he was important. These seemingly simple gestures can be quite profound for the person in need of kindness and love.

Sometimes, we are fortunate to see the impact of our good-will, to feel the gratitude of another. Sometimes, we do not. There have been times when those who I have been of service to have stolen from me, lied to me, and even worse, have died. In those cases, the person was unable to realize the full benefit and impact of unconditional love. Even in those situations, I feel that I was receiving by giving unconditionally to another. However, for the times when you feel like your efforts to do good don’t have immediate results, or won’t create the change you’re striving to make, it is important to have a community that can remind you of the mission. A community who believes that being of service is necessary, important, and impactful, and that, together, you are making a difference.

So, today and this week, let’s do something extraordinary and make an impact in someone’s life. Let’s be of service without any expectation, without seeking something in return for our efforts. Don’t just give the homeless man a dollar. Instead, acknowledge the man and ask him his name, engage him in conversation, let him know that he matters. Go the extra mile and take him to lunch, offer to get him a haircut, or buy him a new outfit. It may cost you a couple bucks, but the value will be priceless and the benefits will change a life.

-Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community

Bold, Courageous, & Committed by CEO & Founder Asher Gottesman

Last week we lost an incredible man who, throughout his lifetime, defied the odds. His name was Stephen Hawking. A man who chose not to be a victim or limit himself by his disabilities, but who did choose to triumph and become a leader in the field of science. With a huge personality, he has inspired tremendous interest and innovation in science. Through a genuine quest for knowledge and truth, and an unconditional love of scientific advancement, Hawking has created everlasting change, and he himself has become an everlasting example of change through his actions.

He lived by the motto, “Do as I do, not only as I say.” He taught by example and showed that the appearance of one’s handicap does not define them, does not limit their potential to make a significant impact in the world. With a steadfast commitment to our own life’s work, accountability, and the persistent support of a loving community, we can truly overcome any obstacle. As the Founder of a recovery community, I strive to enmesh these principles into all of our programs and into everything we do. With an unconditional love for all people, our community leads with the overarching goal to help people, help themselves.

I’m reminded of a story of a man who had a near-death experience. The man flat lined and was pronounced dead, but came back to life. His teacher asked him what he saw and he said, “I saw an upside-down world, those who we respect down here are not so respected up there, sometimes they’re even despised, and those who we don’t really respect down here, are considered hero’s up there!” His teacher responded, “My son, you didn’t see an upside-down world, you saw a clear world.” It’s obvious that Mr. Hawking will be a hero in this physical world, including the nonphysical world.

We have a choice to be a victim or a hero or a survivor. Sometimes we will get recognition in this world, and sometimes we may not. Either way, our deeds do not go unnoticed and have everlasting effects. A person who has survived, who has overcome and accomplished, creates a ripple effect of more survivors. They create a wave of healing, of inspiration, that survives for generations.

Let us use Hawking as an example by which to live our lives, to remain accountable for our actions, and to fight always for the advancement of our communities and of humankind. Let’s be bold, courageous, and committed throughout our lifetime, whether or not we receive public praise. By doing so, we will create great change and live in a world that the teacher called a “clear world”.

~Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community

Better to Have, a Teacher or a Friend? by CEO & Founder Asher Gottesman

Community. Such an important word and such a big part of my mission. It ties into most everything I speak about, as the bonds of community allow us to create great change, together.

Lately, I have focused on what makes a community strong and beneficial versus tribal, separatist, narrow-minded, and ultimately, destructive and ineffective. Furthermore, I am determined to understand how I, as a leader within my communities, can ensure that we remain true to our values.

I believe the answer lies in the saying, “Make for yourself a teacher and acquire for yourself a friend.” In my interpretation, this saying suggests that having a friend is more important than having a teacher, but why? A teacher will give you advice, which you may or may not take. A true friend, however, will give you truth over flattery, will call you out when you behave poorly, and will push you to return to your values. A true friend will redirect you back to the best version of yourself, even when it’s difficult for them to do so.

One of our biggest problems today is that we constantly surround ourselves with “yes” people, with those who appease our ego or irrationality because it’s easier. While there may be no ill-intent in their actions, they do not constitute a real friend, the kind who will challenge us and help us grow beyond, and despite, our weaknesses. Though many of us have a surplus of people who make us feel good, we are in a shortage of friends who help us be good.

Creating change requires ambition, stamina, and a willingness to be wrong. It requires us to practice radical honesty and humility and to surround ourselves with those who do the same. These are not easy tasks, yet, they are necessary to create the change we, and our communities, need and deserve. After all, none of us want to be likened to “The Emperors New Clothes”. To spare him any embarrassment or to avoid retribution, no one told the poor emperor that he was parading around naked. Clearly, that did no good for anyone.

So, I would like to suggest that all of us, especially those in positions of leadership, include at least one person in our communities who is committed to these principles. Who we trust has our best interest in mind, who loves us unconditionally, and who will tell us when we’ve begun to fall off the path. Moreover, I suggest that we listen to them objectively, with an open mind, and with our egos set aside. Enough “yes” people in our lives, for someone who really loves you is willing to tell you the truth!

~Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community

Behind Our Masks by CEO & Founder Asher Gottesman

Outside vs Inside therapeutic art by members of the Transcend Recovery Community

Do the masks we wear keep us from our truth? Are they a false portrayal of who we really are? Or can the safety of being behind a mask help you to reveal your true self?

In almost every religion there is a holiday or time of year where it is customary to wear a mask, to dress up, to basically project a different “face”, or, to show a different side of ourselves. Isn’t it ironic that we “cover” our face to unleash perhaps, another/the “real” side of ourselves?

I’m reminded of a proverb that states that a man’s true personality comes out in three ways: 1- when he is drunk, 2-when he is angry, and 3- in how he deals with money. When someone is drunk, he/she is uninhibited and unafraid to express their true feelings or beliefs. When one is angry, they have lost control, and again, you see their true colors. With money, as we know all too well, we sometimes love our money more than anything!

I think this concept of a “costume” or “mask” is the fourth way our true colors are revealed. Though, most of us wear a mask every day, right?

While we present ourselves to the world in one way, we see ourselves in another. So often, we are afraid to say what we truly believe or think for fear of harsh judgment from those we wish to impress.

The gift that a true, loving, non-judgmental community gives us, is the ability to take off that mask and be our true self. To stand in confidence as the most authentic version of ourselves, to be the person we were put on the planet to be. The shelter and bonds of a loving community embolden us to act with courage, to be as we truly are, to live out our potential, and to unleash the best version of ourselves.

Truth be told, if anyone judged us the way we judge ourselves, we would probably be very angry, or hurt.

The blessing of Community is the realization that we are all created with a unique gift to share with the world. We are all perfectly imperfect beings. We must realize that on our best days we are going be great, and on our worst days, we have the support and non-judgement of our community. On both those days, with whatever mask we wear, we are still ourselves, we are still worthy of love.

This week, let’s acknowledge and lean on the support of our communities to be our honest selves. Let’s free ourselves from harsh self-criticism and the fear of other’s judgment. Let’s embrace our imperfections and show others that, imperfections and all, they, too, are lovable and worthy, no matter what!!

~Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community


Transcend Los Angeles having fun as a community and family

Creative mask work by Transcend Texas

The Gift of Listening by Asher Gottesman

I was watching a movie this past week and a scene in it had a huge impact on me. The scene highlights an especially pertinent and important message in today’s social climate.

The scene goes as follows: Three people go to a mediator, two of the people are in a dispute and the other is an observer. The two in the dispute present their case to the mediator. The mediator looks at the first person and says, “I see your point, you are right”.

He then turns to the second person, the opponent, and says, “I see your point, you are right”. Befuddled, the observer presses the mediator, “How can they both be right?!”, to which the mediator responds, “I see your point, you are right”.

I believe the mediator was trying to tell us that we are all right and we are all wrong.

Rather than fixating on being right, I urge us to listen to what others are saying and hear their truth. It is only when we work together that we can solve a problem, to actually make progress.

Often, our desire for immediate results leads us to engage in a series of impulsive reactions versus well-reasoned responses. We are so busy with our need to be right that we don’t spend any time solving the problem at hand.

I’m reminded of a lecture I heard this past summer by a noted economist who said, and I summarize, “Until we stop looking for immediate results and work together to actually solve our problems, we will continue to decline as a society”.

In today’s day and age, let us look beyond differing political, religious, or tribal views. Let us work together towards a solution to solve our problems. This, I believe, is the ultimate way to create a cohesive and just community. Community is recognizing that, regardless of how we see ourselves or how we perceive the way in which others see us, we are truly all connected.

The greatest gift we can give anyone is to truly listen to them, to hear what they are saying. You never know, you may actually see the world differently, get out of your own way, and create change.

Now, how cool would that be?

~Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community

A Message From Our Founder And CEO, Asher Gottesman

I have been thinking of why charity is such a huge part of creating a sustainable community, and furthermore, what it really means to be charitable.

We all know that charity is giving money or resources to those who are in need. However, that limited definition doesn’t truly explain charity. The full expression of charity includes deep, visceral empathy. It requires us to treat another’s suffering as our own, to know that the misfortune of one is actually the misfortune of us all – this is humanity.

Humanity allows us to change ourselves, to grow and evolve as benevolent beings. When I am charitable, I create a bond, a human connection with another. The benefits are two-fold. When I contribute to the well being of another, I feel greater self-worth myself.

It’s also a way for me to show that I have a responsibility to my fellow man, to my community.

I have a confession. Last week, I read the news of what has been one of the worst school massacres in US history. While I felt badly for the deceased and their loved ones, I didn’t truly feel their pain. I didn’t reflect upon it or question what my responsibility was in this horrible occurrence. I didn’t ponder, “What can I do to try and prevent this from happening again?”. One could say that I have become somewhat desensitized to such travesties.

In my reflection of the full meaning of charity, I want to add what may be a higher expression of charity; something that I think we must start doing as a collective whole. It’s not enough to write the check or to give goods or services to those less fortunate than myself.

We must do our best to feel the needy persons hunger, to understand that as a single human race, we are responsible for them and their care. We must put ourselves in the shoes of the mothers and fathers who lost their children last week, the brothers and sisters who lost their siblings, and feel their actual pain. Part of empathizing is recognizing that their misfortune could just as well been our own.

The lesson is to continue living in gratitude, to appreciate every moment and gift we have, but at the same time, feel the pain of those who suffer and do something about. These actions create community and sustainable change.

~ Asher


Asher Giving A Hug