So often, we think of teshuvah as “getting rid of the bad.” That approach can lead to self-condemnation or even hopelessness. Many rabbis and teachers have suggested instead that we search for the good—what was the good motivation even in a bad act? What is the good lesson that can come out of a bad decision? Where and how can teshuvah turn bad relationships into friendships, or at least grudges into forgiveness? Rather than banishing the evil, can we simply crowd it out with the good? For every sin or bad habit you are trying to banish, install a new, positive practice to replace it. Consider: how might you fill your thoughts, your daily schedule, even your dreams with goodness? It’s not that we give ourselves leave to deny the bad, the tarnish, the damage. It’s that we don’t focus there one minute longer than it takes to uncover the lesson, find our pure core, and make a different decision.
–Rabbi Debra Orenstein