לע"נ ר' חיים צבי בן אליהו
ולע"נ שיינדל פייגה בת עקיבא
The gemara famously says that Baalei Teshuva are greater than people who are tzadikim from birth.
There are many explanations of this gemara. One is that it is simply harder for the Baal Teshuva to be religious and observant because he was previously immersed in sin. The Tzadikim from birth are already habituated to being good. Another explanation is that Baalei Teshuva have a greater thirst for closeness to Hashem. A third explanation is that a sinner channels all of his passions for sin towards mitzvos. The passion for תאוה and the like is generally greater than the passion people have for mitzvos. [Let us see how many people see a "good time" as a six course meal in a restaurant as opposed to people who fantasize about learning a gemara with Rashi and Tosfos and Pnei Yehoshua and Minchas Chinuch and Rav Chaim. ALSO a six course meal but not as exciting for most people].
The Rav ztz"l has a surprising explanation.
האור הפנימי הזורח בכל הויה מוכרח הוא לבנות לו את עולמו. רץ הוא במסלולו מבלי לשום לב אל התקשרותו הכללית באור המקיף שחוץ ממנו, שהוא מלא עולמים, גם לפי אותה המדה שיוכל הוא בפנימיותו להבחין. אמנם בפנימיותו עריגה עליונה קבועה, להתחבר באור המקיף הגדול ורב ממנו באין ערוך. כשהיא מתגברת, מגלה היא את אור התשובה במעלתה העליונה, העולה על הצדקות הגמורה, שלא נשקעה בהוייתה הפנימית מעולם, כ"א הסתגלה תמיד למה שגדול ממנה, המקיף אותה בעוזו.
If I understand him correctly [עי' קובץ האסיף ג' עמ' 816 שהבין בערך כך] he is saying that Tzadikim are always living on such a high plane [אור המקיף] that they never focused on their internal world in the same way that a Baal Teshuva is. A Baal Teshuva goes through a process where he intensely and painfully introspects about who he is, why he is that way, what are the causes of his behavior, how can he remain who he is while altering his behavior, what is his special niche in the world, what is unique about his neshama and personal qualities etc. etc. etc. He lives with his אור פנימי.
People who went through crises and went through therapy are often much deeper than people who didn't. Take a person who was suicidal. He questioned WHY HE HAS TO BE HERE? That is a great question we should ALL be asking ourselves [without the attendant desire to stop being here]. For many, Elul-Tishrei is a time to say some selichos, work on speaking a bit less lashon hara and maybe coming to shul on time or early.
For those who are TRUE Bnei Aliyah, those who are really deep, it is a time to go DEEEEPPPP into the psyche and to ask basic questions [in addition to the ones I mentioned earlier]. "What story am I telling myself about the world?" "What story am I telling myself about MYSELF?" "What is my self definition?" "How are my behaviors damaging to myself and those around me?" "How are other behaviors of mine healthy and beneficial?" "How are my relationships?" "Am I the father/mother/brother/sister /son/ daughter/ friend I should be?"
The reason that people are the same in Cheshvan as they are in Av is because this work hasn't been done. Just a little chest banging, singing the Yud Gimmel Middos and few extra mitzvos [which are all great and necessary] but no "root canal", no plumbing the depth of their souls.
Do you want to be different?
To use the Rav's language - look to the אור הפנימי!