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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
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Self Awareness. ‘Who Am I?’ (Part III)

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2005

The Jewish community has never been as challenged as it is today. I believe that many of our problems could have been avoided if we took a more proactive approach. I recently met with a doctor who had just married off his first daughter. He wanted to know what exactly pre-Marital enrichment is. I responded by explaining the concept of self awareness, that it’s not possible to know someone else if you don’t know who you are!

In pre-marital enrichment I discuss a topic I refer to as “Who Am I?” with couples before and during their first year of marriage. This way they can learn the communication skills needed to enhance understanding, appreciation and respect. Once this information has become available to the couple, they now have the awareness to give what the other partner needs. He then responded that his daughter and her husband communicate very nicely, ‘thank- you very much’. As I was leaving his office I could not help but laugh. He was not listening to a word I was saying, yet he was talking about communication skills. Communication between a husband and a wife is not the same as with a friend or even family. The relationship comes with enormous responsibility to attain self perfection and self fulfillment.

Let us now begin with the third set of preferences called Thinking Vs. Feeling. Some people prefer to think about things and others prefer to feel about them. If you are making a decision, which is more important-your head (Thinking Type) or your heart (Feeling Type)? Every one uses both thinking and feeling at least some of the time, but the one that is used most automatically and naturally is the one preferred.

Thinking Types:

People who prefer to use Thinking in decision making tend to look at the logical consequences f a choice or action. They mentally remove themselves from a situation to examine it objectively and analyze cause and effect. Their goal is an objective standard of truth, even if that occasionally may hurt someone’s feelings. Their strengths include figuring out what’s wrong, so that they can apply their problem-solving abilities.

Thinking Types are:

Analytical Logical problem-solvers Use cause-and-effect reasoning Tough -minded (can be blunt) some times they may come across as insensitive Strive for impersonal, objective truth Reasonable-Fair

Feeling Types:

People who prefer to use Feeling in decision making tend to consider what is important to them and to other people. They mentally place themselves in a situation and identify with the people involved so that they can make decisions based on person-centered values. Their goal is harmony, and their strengths include empathy, understanding and supporting others. They are careful not to hurt others. If they themselves get hurt they will often remember these feelings for a very long time;

Feeling Types are:

1  – Sympathetic and empathic (can put themselves in the other person shoes) 2  – Assess impact on people, and how others are affected by their decisions

3  – Guided by personal values

4  – Tender-hearted

5  – Strive for harmony (want to be liked)

6  – Compassionate

7  – Accepting

A good example of Thinking and Feeling people is best described in the decision making process of children in crisis or other wise known as “Youth at Risk”.

Thinking Administration: Case A

Problem: The child does not fit into the yeshiva system.

Solution: We have a responsibility to the school; it’s not fair to the other children. The child should be removed from the school. It’s not logical to hire a separate Rebbe/teacher and start a new class for these children based on the possibility that things may work out. It’s war out there and in war you have to make sacrifices. Besides, we have no money. They need to be out of the mainstream and in to an alternative school. It stands to reason that they must leave so we can be the best that we can be.

Feeling Administration: Case A

Problem: The child does not fit into the yeshiva system.

Solution: Hire a Rebbe/teacher and start a new class for these children. We have a responsibility to the child, as much as we have to the school. Sorry, but every nashoma is special. If the child is removed from a mainstream school who will take them? As a result they will feel rejected and hurt and will most likely be candidates to meet the wrong people. What about the parents- how must they feel about what is happening to their son/daughter not being in school? If they are put in to alternative school who will be their roll models? No peers to even look up to! How is it that in the past we had money to fund a Rebbe/teacher and create such a class? These children should stay in the mainstream, so that they can be the best they can be.

Self Awareness. ‘Who Am I?’ (Part I)

Wednesday, December 29th, 2004

Almost every profession has what we call the tools of the trade, and with marriage it isn’t any different. If you’re single, engaged or a newlywed, you need to have the tools it takes to build a successful marriage. Yet for many of us even when the chosen and kallah classes are over, they still find it difficult to use the tools that they have just learned. This is because marriage can bring out the best in us, and it can also bring out the worst in us. A person’s self is a complicated energy source with great potential for interpersonal and emotional growth. But if you don’t know who you are, how can you know some one else? It stands to reason that the more tools you have to obtain self awareness the more possibilities you have for a better and more satisfying relationship.

How do you acquire the tools for self-awareness? Interestingly enough you don’t the tools acquire you! At birth, Hashem provides each and every one us with four sets of tools, which we call preferences and non-preferences. Preferences means the way we naturally prefer to do things. Non-preferences means the way we naturally prefer not to do things.

Noted psychologist, Carl Jung, explains that the four sets of tools are set up like a scale:

Extravert vs. Introvert

Sensing vs. Intuition

Thinking vs. Feeling

Judging vs. Perceiving

Everyone uses both sides of the scale from time to time. Yet the side of the scale you feel most comfortable with will determine an important aspect of your personality.

It’s interesting to note that when we choose a mate, we often have an unconscious attraction to our opposites. The chemistry or friction that happens between opposites is often a desire to complete the missing parts of ourselves.

Rav Shternbach, shlita, states that an ‘ezer k’negdo’ is the man’s opposite and that if the woman’s nature is different from that of her husband, then she complements him. She is his helper. If, however, their personalities are similar, if their character traits are alike, then they will end up maintaining the same weaknesses and, in all likelihood, their opportunities for individual growth will be stunted. In a marriage, the ideal is for two people with contrasting or differing characteristics to join together and build upon one another’s strengths, very much like a puzzle where each of the pieces fit into place to form a complete mosaic.

As a four part series, “Who Am I ?”, I will begin with Preferences 1. Extravert vs. Introvert.

Extravert: People who prefer extraversion tend to focus on the outer world of people and external events. They direct their energy and attention outward and receive energy from external events, experiences, and interactions.

Characteristics of most people who prefer extraversion:

Attuned to external environment

Prefer to communicate by talking

Learn best through doing or discussing

Breadth of interests

Tend to speak first, reflect later-(thinking out loud sometimes get them into trouble)

Sociable and expressive

Take initiative in work and relationships

Introvert: people who prefer introversion tend to focus on their own inner world of ideas and experiences. They direct their energy and attention inward and receive energy from their internal thoughts, feelings, and reflections.

Characteristics of most people who prefer introversion:

Drawn to their inner worlds

Prefer to communicate by writing

Learn best by reflection

Depth of interest

Tend to reflect before acting-they are often reserves, quiet and need time to think things over (they may get annoyed by the extravert need for verbal communication)

Private and contained

Focus readily

A good example is a past case study of mine regarding an extravert married to an introvert. Breindy and Naftoli*, a young couple married for just over a year, tried to talk about their frustration, but their inability to reach each other only led to more frustration and misery. At 2:00 o’clock in the morning, they came banging at the door of their rav’s house. Breindy, in the heat of anger, insisted that he should prepare a Get (divorce) right there and then! When the rav finally calmed the couple down, Breindy stated, “I can’t live with someone who never says “I love you”! Naftoli then responded, “Must I verbalize everything? It should be understood.” Breindy did not know that Naftoli’s personality type tends to be reluctant to share inner thoughts and feelings. Naftoli did not know that Breindy’s personality type needs verbal communication to establish closeness and intimacy.

The Love Drug

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

The Dubna Magid in Safer Hamidos, states that “love is one of the most important midos in a person”. Hashem has given us a most powerful energy source with the potential to grow and heal unresolved issues of the past. But in order to activate this energy source we must first try to understand the levels of complexity love has to offer.

After the Holocaust the Agudah of America traveled to the displaced camps of war-torn Europe. One of the many services they provided for European Jews was to marry off as many Jewish singles as possible. My parents, A”H, were two of them and soon after they were married they came to America. I recall as a teenager asking my mother if they were in love when they got married. My mother stated clearly “no way, how could we have been in love? As with so many other girls in the B’nos d.p. camps, a rov made the shidduch and soon we were married!” At the time I could not fathom the idea! How could this be possible? How could marriage come before love? Yet I never saw a more giving, caring, and loving couple like my parents. What shocked me even more was the fact that less than 1% of this population got divorced.

It was not until I got married, learned more Torah and became a marriage counselor that I was able to understand the stages of love and what this gift from Hashem is all about. Love is a developmental stage of energy that needs to keep moving to a higher level of growth. It’s composed of energy divided into two stages – Stage 1 Romantic Love and Stage 2 Acquired Love. In Romantic Love, the couple may or may not be engaged, but in most cases they are. The couple will shower each other with acts of caring and understanding. They can’t wait to see each other and will do anything for each other. They see only positive traits. Any negative traits will be overlooked. Their infatuation tends to be an idealization accompanied by a disregard of reality. The couple, as the expression goes, is ‘high on cloud nine’ or ‘in seventh heaven’. They feel intense pleasure, exhilaration and excitement. They seem happier, playful and have more energy. In some cases if a person is on medication, they may even stop taking it because they feel they no longer need it. Psycho pharmacologists have learned that the person is high on natural hormones and chemicals that flood the body with a sense of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. You’ve heard the expression ‘love is blind’, well it’s true! The couple will have the illusion that they are in love. In the physical sense, the couple is in love. They are in love with themselves. That’s because romantic love is a master of disguises for something called self love, a love that’s based on ‘what’s in it for me’. In all honesty, people don’t get married to take care of their partner; they get married so that their partner can take care of them!

When the relationship is more taking than giving true love cannot take place. This is why Hashem designed this love drug not to last. When the wedding is over, and the couple begins to settle into married life, the infatuation may change suddenly and unpredictably. Hashem determines how long the love drug should remain in the person’s system. For some people it will begin to fade before the wedding, and for others it can last for weeks, months and years. But one thing is for certain, this energy source will move to a higher level of growth called acquired love.

I recall one case where a chosen called me up the very next morning after he became engaged. ‘What did I do, I’m not sure that I love this person!’ He was confused and scared and wanted help. He knew that his kallah was a great girl but something was happening and he didn’t know why. He wanted me to help him break off his engagement. As I reviewed the process with him, he started to calm down. When we met I reassured him that what he was feeling was perfectly normal. But he was caught between the stages of romantic and acquired love. Boruch Hashem, with a little coaching, a few months later, the couple was happily married.

‘Please Don’t Leave Me!’

Friday, August 13th, 2004

The Torah tells us that we are put onto this world to give, not just to take, as difficult as this may seem for some people. Married life provides a unique opportunity to give to another person. When husband and wife are willing to give whatever it takes to make each other happy, they will move onto the next stage called “love.” This is where the Shechina (Divine Presence) rests.

For some couples it may take months, for others, years, for this process to take place, if they are willing to work on their marriage. In many cases, Hashem challenges couples with “shock waves” they never anticipated, in order to prove to them that they truly do love each other and can be worthy of shalom bayis (marital harmony).

My last article presented a letter written by a client of mine who is currently serving a prison sentence. His wife wants to divorce him, but he is very remorseful for both his crime, and for his former neglectful, irresponsible treatment of his family. He begged her for another chance to prove himself.

The following is a response by a Jewish Press reader:

Dear Husband In Prison;

The following is my reply to your letter in the 7/30 issue:

I find myself in a similar situation. I too committed a serious crime and am waiting with baited breath for my sentencing (yet to be determined). You don’t indicate in your letter how long your sentence is, so I assume that it is less than one year.

I was an upstanding citizen, well known in my community for volunteering, giving interest free loans, and supporting worthy causes. My husband and I were known to all tzedaka collectors as ones who gave generously. So what went wrong? I too was taken in by greed, thinking I could give my family a better life. Never once did I think of the repercussions of what I was doing.

What I have done (should it be made public) will cause disgrace to my children, parents, and in-laws. We will have to move from the community. The damage I have caused is unfathomable. I will have to make restitution, pay penalties, legal fees, and face possible prison time. All the penalties far outweigh the amount I profited.

My husband had no idea of what I was doing. When I decided to confide in him (after I went to the FBI), he was very upset (to say the least), shocked, disappointed and hurt. Yet, he was supportive of me at the same time. The most important thing to him was keeping the family together, since we have young children at home.

I am now working with a therapist to find out why I caused such damage. I am also working on ensuring that nothing like this will ever happen again. I have become withdrawn, have lost a lot of weight, and am short tempered. I have no patience for my children or my friends’ chit-chat. I don’t wallow in self-pity, as I have caused this situation myself.

At times, I feel it is unfair to my husband to have to go through this with me. He is innocent and should go on with his life. He deserves a wife he can be proud of. My kids deserve a role model and mom they can look up to. But no, he has decided that we married for better or worse, that my behavior is not reflective of the person he married, and that through professional therapy, he will have the best wife possible once I am cured. I know he will have a wife who will be forever indebted to him for allowing me a second chance and believing in me. I know I won’t disappoint him.

To your wife… if you have children at home, please give him a second chance. Please believe that through therapy, he can be cured. It sounds as though he is on the right path. But, it takes two people. Speak to his therapist and try to work things out together. Was he forced to commit his crime to support your needs for luxuries? Were you unaware of his actions? Was he a good father and husband beside this? I hope you have the same strength my husband has, and that you see your husband for the man you fell in love with and married, not as the sick person he is today.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/please-dont-leave-me/2004/08/13/

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