web analytics
March 28, 2015 / 8 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Self-Image And Barking Dogs (Part II)

In my previous column I wrote about the importance of assigning minimal value to the utterances of those who make nasty, ego-wounding comments. Their comments should have the same weight as the noises coming out of a barking dog. Nothing to pay attention to.


I want to make it clear that I am not against criticism. No one is perfect – only God possesses that attribute – and there are behaviors and choices and actions that a person can improve upon that should be pointed out – but it should be done in a benign and encouraging manner, not like the verbal equivalent of a punch.


One of the most insightful lessons I learned about human interaction was in first grade in my day school. Though I don’t remember the exact details, it had to do with a death that had occurred in the parsha. My teacher pointed out the wording of the pasuk that indicated how news of the death was gradually and gently given to the niftar‘s relatives so that it would not come as a wrenching shock. Bad news was to be delivered with tact and sensitivity. So, too, should criticism be given with verbal kid gloves. Instead of being blunt and abrupt and saying to someone, “Your hair is a mess” or coldly looking someone up and down and pointing out that she is too fat for the outfit she is wearing, thereby making the recipient of your criticism feel like a failure or inadequate, you should instead say, “You have such pretty hair and while you look great, by brushing your hair to the side you’ll look even prettier.” For the child/spouse/friend wearing clothes that don’t fit, you can suggest that the outfit probably shrank when it was washed, or that the child must have had a growth spurt and perhaps she can put on something just as pretty that might fit better. You can get your message across without decimating the person’s self-esteem.


One of the worse possible things a person can do to their child, spouse or friend is to label them, by repeatedly attributing to them negative traits. Telling a child, for example, that he is stupid, or lazy, or bad sends the message that that is what they are. Many accept these statements as being true and a part of who they are – like having blue eyes. It’s something they can’t change – so why bother to try?


Some people, parents in particular, believe that belittling their children by telling them they are stupid, or minimizing an achievement, “You got a 90, Yossi got a 97″ – will motivate them to try harder. Very often, tragically, that ploy backfires. The child gives up. Why bother even attempting to do better when you’re going to fall short? When, no matter what you do, you will not measure up because there is always someone on the radar who is better at it?


This business of comparing a person to another erodes a person’s self-esteem and actually doesn’t make any sense. Every neshama is unique and has his/her purpose in life. Why compare an apple to broccoli? Physically, human beings more or less look the same but each soul is special and has to achieve what he or she was meant to achieve. And in the big picture everybody is a major contributor. One might be in awe of the architect who designed the 100-floor skyscraper. And, indeed, he should be praised for his vision and talent. But so, too, should the worker hammering the nails into the beams holding up the structure. His contribution is just as necessary as the architect’s in achieving the finished product. Had he tried to be an architect – something he wasn’t meant to be – he would have failed miserably. It is wrong to put pressure on a child or spouse or friend to be what they aren’t. If your wife isn’t a gourmet cook, don’t berate her. Praise her for what she is good at – like negotiating with the repair people.


As I mentioned earlier, not giving weight to derogatory comments is the first step to a healthier lifestyle. Do not let others make you feel inadequate. Being yourself is the next. You are you – a unique entity Hashem created. Your job is to live your life – not attempt to live someone else’s image of what it should be. A big gadol, Reb Zusya exclaimed that when he died he wasn’t worried that he would be asked why he wasn’t like Moshe Rabbenu, but rather he was concerned he would be asked why he wasn’t like Reb Zusya.


(To be continued)

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Self-Image And Barking Dogs (Part II)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu to Release Frozen Palestinian Authority Tax Revenue
Latest Sections Stories
Neuman-Rabbi-M-Gary

Are we allowed to lie for shalom bayis? It would seem so, but what might be a healthy guideline for when it’s okay and when it’s not?

book-To-Fill-The-Sky-With-Stars

The connection between what I experienced as a high school teenager and the adult I am today did not come easy to me.

Respler-032715

Isn’t therapy about being yourself; aren’t there different ways for people to communicate with each other?

South-Florida-logo

Jack was awarded a blue and gold first-place trophy, appropriately topped off with a golden bee.

Participating in ManiCures during the school day may feel like a break from learning, but the intended message to the students was loud and clear. Learning and chesed come in all forms, and can be fun.

Building campaign chairman Jack Gluck has led the effort over many years.

When using an extension cord always make sure to use the correct rated extension cord.

There was no question that when Mrs. Cohen entered the room to meet the teacher she was hostile from the outset.

Szold was among the founders and leaders (she served on its executive committee) of Ichud (“Unity”), a political group that campaigned against the creation of an independent, sovereign Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael.

My friend is a strong and capable Jewish woman, but she acted with a passivity that seemed out of character.

“If you don’t stand straight, you’ll never get a husband.”

First, sit down with your helpers and a pen and paper and break the jobs down into small parts.

More Articles from Cheryl Kupfer
Kupfer-112114

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

Kupfer-092614-Books

Not knowing any better, I assumed that Molly and her mother must be voracious readers.

Unpleasant happenings are quickly discarded if they do not affect us directly.

I have always insisted that everything that happens to anyone or anything is min Shamayim.

It is so hurtful to heighten people’s sense of inadequacy and guilt in a matzav that is already horrendous and difficult to bear.

Make no mistake: in the wrong hands cars are weapons of mass destruction.

Where once divorce in heimische communities was relatively uncommon, nowadays every family has a son, daughter, sibling cousin who is divorced – sometimes twice or even three times!

Many go about the business of living frum, observant lives, but they are only going through the motions.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/self-image-and-barking-dogs-part-ii/2006/01/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: