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December 17, 2014 / 25 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Self Esteem’

Self Esteem And Its Impact On Marriage

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Self esteem is one of the most important factors influencing human behavior. Despite what some people believe, self esteem can be a critical issue in marriage, where unresolved identity issues from childhood can place unwanted stress on a relationship.

Low self esteem can be very painful and difficult to overcome. Our sense of self is something we come into the world with and it follows us through life like a shadow. If we lose it, we are lost. If we have we it, we can face all of our trials and tribulations and maintain our sense of satisfaction and emotional well-being. Most parents understand the role self esteem plays in childhood. When children grow up, we teach them how to take losses in stride and how to win and lose with grace. We teach children that it’s them, and not just their grades, that matter.

Once childhood passes, unresolved self esteem issues can last for a lifetime. For example, in marriages where one person suffers from low self esteem, both parties may feel that their spouse never properly fulfills their emotional needs. And, where both suffer from feelings of low self esteem, there may be perpetual disappointment in the relationship.

Expectations make this issue even more complex. Couples tend to enter marriage with the belief that any hurt they may have experienced in the past will be healed by their spouse. They may also hope that their spouse will somehow make them feel good about themselves and nurture their self image.

A couple once came to talk with me about difficulties they were having in their marriage. The issue burning in their minds was the negative behavior of their teenage son. The father found it difficult to parent his rebellious teenager with confidence, and the wife had given up hope in her children and in her marriage as well. Overall, they were both visibly angry at one another, withdrawn and disappointed in their relationship.

I sensed there was more hiding below the surface. The husband, it turned out, had lost his mother at a young age and was raised by his father, who was too preoccupied with their financial survival to pay much attention to his son’s emotional needs. The wife had also had a very difficult childhood. She grew up with a father who had a temper and would often yell at her without reason. Early on, she had learned how to adapt and “disappear” from the house when he was around.

Years later, these two individuals would continue their childhood patterns and be caught in an endless cycle of emotional turmoil. Here is how the self esteem issues spiraled out of control: whenever he sensed that his wife was not responsive to his emotional needs, he would start yelling at her. His wife, who was mistreated by her father and had learned how to avoid conflict, would physically and emotionally withdraw from him and try to hide. This would intensify his feelings of rejection and make him even angrier.

To break the cycle, I suggested that both work on their self esteem. They could begin by exploring how their childhood traumas were now influencing their present-day behavior. Through becoming aware of these inner issues, they would be better equipped to respond to their deeper emotional wounds and start healing their feelings of rejection and neglect.

Here is a list of childhood family issues that may be interrupting your ability to have a happy marriage as an adult:

* Divorce
* Learning disabilities
* Lack of friendships
* Illness
* Physical or emotional abuse
* A sick parent
* A death in the family

Children who are exposed to conflict at home (which tends to coincide with a negative and hostile relationship between the parents) are more at risk for aggression, internalizing by withdrawing, depressive symptoms, and feelings of low self esteem.

Also, an adult who lost a parent when he or she was a child may feel a sense of loss that can carry on for a lifetime. Losing someone at a young age can diminish self-confidence, create feelings of despair, and leave individuals with feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.

Part of the healing process is to become aware of these inner issues and to begin discussing them with one’s spouse. Talking about them in an honest and open way can help them become aware of each other’s feelings of abandonment. Here are some tips on how to nourish each other’s level of self esteem:

Criticizing While Respecting

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Dear Dr. Respler:

My parents, who I love dearly, constantly contradict what I say to my children. They constantly interfere with the way my wife and I raise our children. For her part, my wife is very frustrated with this situation. What makes it harder for her, her parents live out of town while my parents live close by and are thus more involved with our children.

My mother is forever criticizing my wife, who is a wonderful mother and very caring and compassionate with our five beautiful children. My mother has a different view of how to raise children, and honestly, that makes we wish I had a mother more like my wife.

I struggle with low self-esteem, which my wife tries to bolster with her enormous love and sensitivity. I believe that my low self-confidence emanates from having critical parents who never complimented me.

My children are, Baruch Hashem, doing well in school. They have derech eretz, clearly showing that my wife’s childrearing techniques are working. My parents, conversely, are nervous people, and believe that children should be seen and not heard. They believe that we are wrong in not hitting our children. They are so critical that it drives us both crazy. I have spoken to them numerous times about not interfering in the way we raise our children and he last things I want to do is keep the children away from them.

We have spoken to our rav who has made it clear that while we do not have to accept their child-raising suggestions, we are obligated to respect them. Please help us with this challenging situation.

Frustrated

Dear Frustrated:

It appears that your parents need to control you in some manner and choose to do so through criticizing the way you raise your children. Critical people are often insecure and need to control others in order to bolster their own self-esteem. Is it possible for you to change the subject when your parents begin to criticize you? If their criticism persists, you can respectfully disagree by saying, “Mom, Dad, is it possible that even if you don’t agree with our childrearing techniques, you can respect our methods and not criticize us? We feel hurt when you constantly criticize the way we raise our children. It is also not healthy for the children to see this disagreement.”

In my professional practice, I see grandparents who were very strict with their own children and then undermine them when they are disciplining the grandchildren. This is incredibly in appropriate. It is only in situations where grandparents witness their children damaging their grandchildren in some way or, chas v’shalom, acting abusively or neglectfully toward them do they have the right to intervene. Even then, they should tread lightly to ensure that their interventions are taken the right way.

I support your efforts to respect and love your parents by not severing the important bond between them and their grandchildren. However, you must demonstrate derech eretz toward your parents when discussing with them their inappropriate, meddling behavior and when telling them that you do not want to ever be faced with the possibility of having to sever that very important bond. If your parents realize how serious you are, they will hopefully back off. Continue to be supportive of your wife by working with her in continuing the successful chinuch that you are giving your children.

As for hitting your children, I too do not generally believe in that technique. Sometimes, though, hitting young children gently in order to explain a point may be appropriate. A rav I once spoke to about hitting shared this perspective. The rav felt that American parents who generally hit their children do so in order to pacify their own frustrations, i.e., they hit to rid themselves of their self-anger.

Al pi halacha, we are not allowed to hit children when we are angry. Some tzaddikim were known to hit their children gently when they were not angry in order to teach them. Since we are not on their madreigah and we generally hit our children to alleviate our own frustrations, it is forbidden for us to do so.

Here is a beautiful story that I learned from Project Derech: The eight sons of Rav Shlomo Carlebach, a rav in Germany, all grew up to be rabbanim. Whenever one of his sons was late to minyan, his punishment was to not get jam on his toast. But Rav Carlebach also did not put jam on his own toast, to show the child that he felt his pain and would thus deny himself that eating pleasure as well. This level of childrearing is one that we should aspire to. If we deny ourselves of a small privilege and therefore share the pain with our children, they will be less likely to have punitive feelings toward us and will ultimately have a very deep regard for us, their parents.

Self Esteem, Individuality and Love for Teenagers

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Self-Esteem

We often use the expressions “good self-esteem” or “poor self-esteem” to describe people’s evaluation of their own worth.  When people have good self-esteem, they tend to view life from a positive perspective, seeing their potential value.  Poor or low self-esteem causes people to feel that everything they do in life is a losing battle and that they always get the short end of the stick.

Low self-esteem can be very painful and difficult to overcome. Self-esteem is something we come into the world with; it follows us through life like a shadow. If we lose it, we are lost. If we have we it, we can face all of life’s trials and tribulations and maintain our sense of satisfaction and emotional well-being.

Self-esteem is also profoundly affected by what happens to us along life’s path. Many circumstances may contribute to low self-esteem in teenagers, including:

  • Divorce
  • Learning disabilities
  • Lack of friendships
  • Illness
  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • A sick parent
  • A death in the family

 

Many of these issues make a person feel that life will always be fraught with pain and failure.  Low self-esteem makes people feel that their proverbial cup is always half empty.

For parents trying to connect to teenagers with low self-esteem, the best strategy is not to focus on the teens’ negative patterns of behavior but rather to find ways to nourish their inner sense of self. Parents can take many steps to help build their teens’ self-esteem.  Here are just a few:

  • Highlight positive aspects of their physical, mental, and emotional development, such as the way they look, the way they express their thoughts and feelings, the skills they have, and those they are developing.
  • Focus on their accomplishments. Congratulate them for their achievements, however big or small. Remind them daily of the things they do well and of the courage they have shown.
  • Help them to be realistic and accept the facts that they aren’t perfect at everything and they don’t have to be.
  • Teach them to laugh at past disappointments when you can. Use set backs as opportunities for insight and growth.
  • Help them develop a support system of people they trust who will listen when they need to talk.

 

Relationship Test: Do you take time to develop your teen’s self-esteem?

1            2        3         4         5

Never   Rarely        Constantly

 

Individuality

A person’s individuality consists of the qualities and characteristics that distinguish that person as a unique human being.  Without a sense of uniqueness, it is difficult for a person to establish their own identity in the world and to understand the special role that they will play.

Individuality is a very powerful part of being a teenager and the need for it grows, as children get older. Young children’s identities are often enveloped in the family’s identity and they have little opportunity to express their own sense of self.   But as they become teenagers, they have a greater need to establish their unique identity among their family and peers.

When dealing with teens at risk, parents need to take the time to acknowledge their teenagers’ unique positive qualities. Unique qualities distinguish every human being.  The fact that a teen may be depressed or difficult to relate to does not mean that the he or she has no positive personality traits.  For example, a fifteen-year-old girl who is doing poorly in school excels as an artist and musician. Or a fourteen-year-old boy with ADHD is a talented carpenter and has many practical and social skills that will help him to succeed in the business world.

Unfortunately we tend to demand the same level of success academically from all children, even though school achievement may not be an appropriate measuring stick with which to evaluate their success in life.  Try to look at all teenagers as diamonds that need to be polished.  When you help identify people’s unique qualities, you are helping them to remove their rough exterior and allowing their G-d-given brightness to shine.

At the same time, a teen’s individuality must be moderated in relation to many other factors, including the need to be part of the family, school, and society. The challenge of individuality is for parents to nurture their teens’ sense of uniqueness and at the same time help them to integrate their identity into the greater whole.

 

Relationship Test: How often do you help your teen become aware of his or her individuality?

1            2        3         4         5

Never   Rarely       Constantly

 

Love and Friendship

Love is one of the most important ingredients of life that can contribute to a person’s emotional well-being.  It is experienced when a person senses feelings of affection and fondness from others, especially from family and friends.

Children begin life seeking love from their parents and their environment.  When babies are fed when hungry, held when scared, and covered when cold, they sense love and security from their parents.   If the desire for love is fulfilled, children can grow up with the confidence needed to live a life of optimism and emotional security.  If the need for love is frustrated, then people can be left with feelings of loneliness and despair.

Part 5 – The Road Map To A Happy Marriage

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Finding direction in marriage is similar to going on a long journey. To get to where you want to go, you will need to have a plan that includes directions, supplies and someone to navigate along the way. You will also have to be prepared for many possible factors that may interfere with your trip, including wind, rain, unpredictable mechanical breakdown, and human error. Most importantly you will need a map to guide you on where to go and how to reorient yourself when you get off track.

Many couples seeking my advice are simply lacking the guidance of a relationship road map in their lives.

Take Shmuel, 25 and Rivky, 23, (names have been changed) who came to speak with me about the lack of excitement and enthusiasm in their marriage. They were only married for about six months, but were already feeling that after their smooth walk to the chuppah, they were now traveling down a bumpy road to an unknown destination.

From the outset they looked like the perfect couple, well dressed, articulate and extremely well-educated. All of the excitement surrounding their engagement period and wedding had just about ended. Now, in their sixth month of marriage, they began to feel they were unequipped to deal with each other’s emotional needs. They were constantly bickering about small things like garbage collection, cooking dinner and cleaning up around the house.

Marriage wasn’t supposed to be so hard. Unable to cope, they started to withdraw from one another, instead of working together to solve their problems. It’s important to note that these were two healthy individuals who had the potential to have a great marriage, but they were lacking a guidebook or emotional GPS that could guide them on how to communicate and gain greater understanding of one another.

This couple’s relationship was clearly going off course. They needed guidance to stay focused on their destination.

To make their job easier, I suggested they follow an emotional road map based upon what I call “The Four Cs of Relationship Theory”; Connection, Control, Communication, and Conflict Resolution. Together, the Four Cs of Relationship Theory provide a road map to help couples evaluate where the relationship is going, and where and how to make changes if necessary.

Imagine, for example, if Shmuel and Rivky could read each other’s minds and understand what makes them happy or sad; what they are scared about and ways they like to be cared about.

The Four Cs help couples see the bigger picture, and then make a distinction between the areas that demand attention, and those other matters that are superficial and should not be the focus of their relationship. For example, you may find yourself arguing over small things like cleaning the dishes or doing the laundry.  You may also start feeling as if your spouse is overly controlling and denies your feelings. Or, you may feel you are drifting apart and aren’t as connected as you used to be.  If so, the question becomes: should you try to be more assertive? Or should you learn more about you spouse’s inner world, increase the amount of quality time you spend together, and carefully work through their issues with them? A look at the Four Cs should provide an answer.

 

The First “C”: Connecting to Your Spouse’s Inner World

Learning about the total person you are married to is one of the main goals of marriage. As a therapist, I help couples explore both sides of their personalities; their external behavioral characteristics as well as their inner emotional worlds.

It’s important to note that as human beings, we live in two distinct emotional worlds: an outer world and an inner world. The outer world is merely a fa?ade, an outer layer that covers up our deeper and unseen emotions. The inner world, however, is the place that holds the key to understanding what makes people tick. Regrettably, many couples never learn about the complex and delicate issues in their spouse inner world; they relate only to their outer or external side of their personality.

How in touch are you with your spouse’s inner world? Listed below are common negative behaviors that are based upon underlying “inner” world emotions. Take a few moments to evaluate your awareness of these issues.

Negative behavior: threats, attacks, sarcasm, rudeness -

How do you perceive your spouse’s behavior?

What are their inner feelings?

 

Negative behavior: defensiveness, shyness, withdrawn, uncommunicative -

How do you perceive your spouse’s behavior?

What are their inner feelings?

 

Negative behavior: judging, criticizing, disapproving -

How do you perceive your spouse’s behavior?

What are their inner feelings?

 

Here are some possible answers

Negative behavior: threats, attacks, sarcasm, rudeness -

How do you perceive your spouse’s behavior? Obnoxious, hostile, aggressive

What are their inner feelings? Hurt, anxious, embarrassed, fearful

 

Negative behavior: defensiveness, shyness, withdrawn, uncommunicative -

How do you perceive your spouse’s behavior? Rejecting, suspicious, mistrustful, apprehensive

What are their inner feelings? Angry, resentful, insecure, disappointed

 

Negative behavior: judging, criticizing, disapproving -

How do you perceive your spouse’s behavior? Resentful, bitter, indignant

What are their inner feelings? Overly self-critical, insecure, angry

 

If you’re good at reading between the lines, you’ll notice that outer expressions of anger and sadness often emerge from inner feelings of insecurity or discontent. Think about the stresses in your life that cause you to be cranky, upset or just miserable to be around. Feelings of rejection are often scrambled in our inner world and then dished out at others who just happen to get in our way.  All of us have bad days when we get upset at the people closest in our lives, but we are really just hurt by other circumstances such as getting yelled at by an angry boss, receiving a parking ticket or missing the bus. For a marriage to succeed, you need to know when your wife or husband is just having a bad day or if other “inner world” need are not being met.

Let’s take a look at some of the issues that can guide you through your spouse’s inner world. They include: 1. Self Esteem, 2. Individuality, 3. Love and Friendship, 4. Control, 5. Spirituality.

In the following weeks we will explore these five levels and utilize a new test that can help you identify your level of “relationship” intelligence with your spouse and ways you can improve your marriage.

 

In Part 6, we’ll discuss Self Esteem.

 

Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, is the Executive Director of Shalom Task Force. For more information about Shalom Task Force, please visit www.shalomtaskforce.org. You can e-mail questions to him at rabbischonbuch@yahoo.com. To order “First Aid For Jewish Marriages” go to www.JewishMarriageSupport.com.

Money Values

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

In marriage, money tends to mean different things to different people. Unfortunately, for some, money repre­sents more than economic security. It becomes a symbol for CPR — Control, Power and (self) Respect. In so many of the cases I work with, money is related to unresolved childhood issues — childhood needs and yearnings that were not met. In many cases, children who had a problem­atic childhood will enter into an adult relationship with a powerful need for control. This is often played out through money. Issues involving money will often mask deeper core issues for the fulfillment of childhood yearnings.

As adults, some people feel they must handle the fi­nances in order to preserve their sense of importance and dominance in the family. In my own research with couples, I have found that if a man or woman’s position in the fami­ly can be maintained only by power, he or she wields control of the money. As one man said in my office, “As long as I hold the purse strings, I have the last word!” What is sad is that after the divorce, his family wanted nothing to do with him or his money. The fact that he felt he was controlling the money for their own good was of little significance.

How does this process begin? Many psychologists feel that the early stages of childhood, ages birth to six, are the most crucial years in developing positive self-es­teem. During these stages, the child needs to feel secure and connected to his caregivers. The important parental task is to notice and acknowledge the child’s needs. The child wants to be visible and be recognized as an individual. This visibility is very much needed so that he/she can feel control of his/her life.

When my children were younger, they would often play dress up. They would put on our clothes and make believe they were mommy and daddy. Once, they got hold of some of my tools and played Bob and Prim, two mainte­nance workers in the building we lived in. Back then, when we had a TV, they would dress up as Batman or Power Rangers, and my wife and I would say “Wow! You are Power Rangers!” It was fun and they felt good to be in control as they got lost in their make believe world. They did this because they wanted to be somebody. They wanted to feel special and have recognition.

Many parents only take the opportunity occasionally, for example on Purim, to acknowledge how cute and spe­cial their kids are. It is not that they are neglectful par­ents. It is just that they are too tired, too stressed, too angry, too worried about what school to send their kids to, etc. Parents today are running on overdrive to make sure that they are always available! Instead of acknowledging the children for who they are, they criticize and judge them for who they are not! In time the child will start a process called negative self-esteem. The child does not feel good about himself or in control of his life. Without positive self-esteem, the child’s emotional growth is affected.

Nothing they do will ever be enough for them.

As they move into adulthood, they will do whatever is necessary in a relationship to obtain CPR — Control, Power and self-Respect, in hopes that it will make them feel better.

“Money” and “Self-esteem” are two of 21 topics that I discuss with the brides and grooms in my Pre-Marital En­hancement program, using the T.E.A.M. approach (To­rah Education and Awareness for a better Marriage).

If there are any topics you would like me to discuss in my articles, or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at CPCMoishe@aol.com or at 718-435­-7388. You can also log on to CPCTEAM.org to download past articles and for more information about the T.E.A.M. approach.

Moishe Herskowitz MS., LCSW, developed the T.E.A.M. (Torah Education & Awareness For A Better Marriage) approach based on 20 successful years of coun­seling couples – helping them to communicate effectively and fully appreciate each other. As a licensed and highly certi­fied social worker and renowned family therapist, he devel­oped this breakthrough seminar to guide new couples through easy-to-accomplish steps towards a happy, healthy marriage. Moishe Herskowitz holds a certificate from the Brooklyn Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in couples and marriage therapy. He is an active member of the New York Counseling Association for marriage and family counseling. Mr. Herskowitz can be reached at 718­-435-7388.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/money-values/2007/06/05/

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