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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Yael’

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Dear Dr. Yael:

I have been following your columns about toxic parenting and toxic spouses. Well, I think I may have a toxic friend. We have been friends since elementary school and today we both have married children. Looking back at our lives, I can say that I was always the studious one while she was always looking to shop. We both came from financially average homes, but her focus was always on what else she could have.

As life progressed, my goal was to marry a ben Torah, go into chinuch and raise a wonderful family. Her goal was to marry a rich guy and have a beautiful house, clothes, jewelry, etc.

And that is what happened. She married into a wealthy family and her husband is very successful. He is also a baal middos and a baal tzeddaka and learns with my husband every day.

My family is much larger and our values are very different. Her husband often shares with mine that he wishes his wife would be influenced by me. Unfortunately, even though I know that gashmius is not the important thing and I see that our children are full of tochen and walking the right path, I envy her easy, rich life.

Don’t get me wrong, she does have plenty of struggles with her children, which, Baruch Hashem, we do not have.

My husband feels that she is a negative influence on me and is prepared to sever the relationship as he sees that her constant flaunting bothers me. I keep hoping to rise above this feeling and influence her. However, whenever we are together, I come home sad.

After reading your column on toxic people, my husband wondered if a friendship could be toxic and if I was in one. I do not want to cut my friend and her family out of our lives, but am at a loss as to how to change things. Please help me deal with this situation effectively.

Anonymous

 

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your letter. I do not know your friend, but from your letter it does not seem that she is toxic. Although she may be much more into gashmius than you, and may make you feel badly sometimes, it does not seem like a toxic relationship. Whether you want to remain friends with her or not, is up to you; however, I will share with you signs of a toxic friendship so you have a better idea of what to consider.

A toxic friend is always criticizing you and making you feel small and embarrassed (e.g., a toxic friend will find fault in almost anything you do and will usually find a smart way to criticize you and make you feel bad about yourself).

A toxic friend will not be happy for you when something good happens. Someone who truly loves you will celebrate your happiness. Toxic friends do not.

A toxic friend often lacks empathy and does not seem to care when you are going through a hard time. A toxic friend may even derive some joy from your hardships.

A toxic friend will not be trustworthy and will not keep the secret you ask them to. A toxic friend may even use your secrets against you.

Toxic friends take advantage of your generosity and give nothing in return. They usually do not appreciate anything you do for them.

Toxic friends talk about you behind your back and may spread rumors about you. They have no compunction about ruining your good name or telling lies about you.

Toxic friends are always unhappy, complaining, and dissatisfied. They are the type of people who bring you down and put you into a bad mood.

Toxic friends are often very self-centered. They only care about their own feelings and will not consider your needs unless it serves a purpose for them.

Toxic friends make everything more dramatic. They exaggerate issues and make small things into problems. They add unnecessary drama to your life that you’re better off without. They also may lie if it serves a purpose for them.

Toxic friends are bullies. They use your vulnerabilities and secrets to attack you when you’re down and they damage you psychologically.

Toxic friends can be very judgmental and may only talk about themselves.

Toxic friends can be very stubborn. It’s their way or the highway.

Toxic friends can be picky, very needy, and hard to please; they also get into petty fights because they like to sow division. They get mad at you easily and always seem to be upset at you over the smallest things. Besides for the obvious, this can be toxic because they do not like to work out issues in a mature manner.

Lastly, toxic friends can be very negative. This makes them difficult to be around and unpleasant to deal with as they tend to only see the bad in most situations.

What you described does not seem like someone who is toxic. Your friend may be a little self-centered and may talk about all of the things she has, but this is likely because she is feeling insecure around you. You noted that your friend is going through a lot. Try to be there for her and help build her self-esteem – she may be a better friend to you if she feels more confident.

If, however, I have misread your letter, and your friend does indeed meet a lot of these criteria, then it would be very prudent to begin the process of cutting yourself off from her. No one should be friends with someone who is constantly making them feel bad about themselves and who is going out of their way to hurt them.

Thank you for your letter and hatzlocha with this difficult decision.

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Dear Dr. Yael,

I appreciated the great column you featured on the sandwich generation after Sukkos. I know that Chanukah is an easier Yom Tov since no one moves in and we can celebrate with our families and friends, however, it has become a competition for my children.

Our children have Chanukah vacation and, according to them, everyone is doing amazing things. Some families are even taking their children to fancy islands and extending vacations so that the kids miss class. Others take their kids on cruises, ski weekends, and more.

We can’t afford all of these amazing vacations and, besides, we love having family parties and doing local things with our children. However, our kids are jealous and I am not sure how to make them understand.

I do wonder if things would be less expensive if schools gave off less time for Chanukah.

A Reader

 

 

Dear Dr. Yael,

I am very dismayed to see the way Chanukah and other chaggim have become commercialized. It seems as if all we are doing is copying the ways of other nations. We have to have the grand parties, and the fancy gifts. The question is: Do we do enough chesed at this time of year? Do we sympathize with the less fortunate? I would like to ask this readership to take the time to consider what I have written here.

Kol Tov
G.S

 

 

Dear Readers:

It is a shame that Chanukah today seems to be more about parties, trips, and gifts than celebrating the spirit of the Yom Tov during which we overcame the Greek influences on the physical and re-energized our spirituality.

My own memories of Chanukah are of visiting with family and playing dreidel. Clearly, our generation was expected to behave, do well in school, and be happy with whatever our parents were able to give and do for us.

One present was a treat years ago, but now kids “need to get” one present a night! Going to a family party was amazing, but now family parties need to feature tons of presents. Once upon a time, going on a local family trip was an incredible experience, but now families “have” to take extravagant vacations. We need to scale it down! Try to spend quality time with your children and make the local trips fun, maybe by inviting some of their friends along. Buy your children some board games for Chanukah and make sure to play with them! You will be amazed how much your children will enjoy the quality time with you!

I agree that we need to focus more on chesed and less on materialism. Our children will also benefit so much more from our attention than they do from the things we give them.

Much research has been done on parenting and spending quality time with your children – talking, playing, reading, doing homework, and exercising with your children has been shown to be an integral feature of successful parenting. Furthermore, children are less likely to develop emotional and behavioral disorders when they receive adequate parenting (often manifested by spending quality time with your children).

There are a lot of activities that will promote happy and healthy children and they do not have to be expensive or difficult. The main goal is to give your children your full attention and make sure that you have their full attention. Even doing homework with your children can be a positive experience if you give them your full attention (i.e., put away your phone), give them a lot of specific and accurate praise for small accomplishments (“Wow, you read that word beautifully!” “That was a great, but let’s try it one more time!”), and make sure to compliment them afterward (call your mother, grandmother, or mother-in-law in front of your child and tell them how amazing your child is and how great he/she knew what was learned that day). Not only will this make your child want to do homework more often with you (we can always pray for an easy homework night!), but you will be building your child’s self-esteem and spending quality time with him/her.

If Chanukah gifts in your family have gotten out of hand, it’s important to talk to your siblings and perhaps set some limits on the spending for all the nieces, nephews, and their children.

Thank you for your beautiful letters and in the zechus of making an effort to do more chesed out of the home and with our own children, and may we all be zoche to only good things! Hatzlocha!

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, December 30th, 2016

Dear Dr. Yael,

My problem is something that I am coming to terms with, but as I have been reading your column for years, I am hoping you can be of some help. Once upon a time, I would have suffered in silence, but now I hope that a discussion can help others.

I live in a large urban frum community known for its yeshivos, organizations and institutions. There are sizeable contingents of every “flavor” of Jew: Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Modern Orthodox, etc. Before our family moved here to partake of the educational resources for our children, we lived in several smaller communities and one other large urban city where different types of Orthodox Jews came together in various shuls and programs. In each community, smaller groups and families maintained their standards of tznius, hashkafos and divergent minhagim largely without judgment and usually with a degree of openness.

Unfortunately, people who heard we were moving to our new location told us things would not be like that here. I didn’t believe it at the time, but alas, they were right. So far, we have been made to feel socially isolated and only marginally important.

No matter what social gathering we attend, melave malka, wedding, a simple lecture or B’nos group, people are very guarded, perhaps because there seems to be so much competition between them.

I have met many people over the years and am adept at small talk and making solid friendships. I have never encountered such a culture of coolness and competitiveness among frum people. I fear that despite all the learning and observance of mitzvos that takes place in this “community” we are failing our ultimate mission as Jews. We are taught to be mekabel kol adam besever panim yafos. Imagine how much different things would be here if people took this idea to heart? Wouldn’t this enhance our ability to recognize sincerely the Tzelem Elokim in each person and to draw closer to Hashem’s ultimate rule?

A Frum Jew

 

Dear A.F.J.,

Thank you for taking the time to write to us. Some time ago we featured a letter from a baalas teshuva who was experiencing similar frustrations as you express. I know that there are, unfortunately, groups of people who act this way, but I am not sure why.

It hurts when people are unfriendly to me until they find out that I am “Dr. Respler.” Shouldn’t people be friendly to everyone? When I get warmth only after they know who I am, I feel the pain for others who have to struggle with coolness.

If you go to a simcha and see someone sitting at a table alone, sit down and start up a conversation. What does it cost to say hello? Will it hurt us to be a little more caring, friendly and less self-focused? So what if someone is less frum, less educated, or has less money than you? Does that mean that he or she doesn’t deserve the same friendliness you would accord someone you considered your equal?

That being said, sometimes people are shy and are perceived as being cold. When people are unfriendly to me, I greet them and they generally respond. Perhaps you could try saying hello to those who are cold to you – you might be pleasantly surprised.

I once met a very rich, confident successful man who told me that he lived in a snobby community. Whenever someone would snub him in shul, he would go over, greet the person warmly and wish him or her a “Gut Shabbos.” The person would have no choice but to respond in kind.

I don’t want people to perceive this letter as a reflection of Klal Yisroel, since it only portrays a select few. Let us hope that your letter has a meaningful influence on us all and will bring the coming of Moshiach soon. Hatzlocha!

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Monday, December 26th, 2016

Dear Dr. Yael,

The minute I read your December 2 column, I was reminded of a great book I once read called, Toxic People. The author explains that allowing toxic people into our lives gives them the power to destroy us. He says that the minute a person does something we cannot tolerate, we should distance ourselves from him or her. I totally agree with this notion. Life is too short and precious to stay close with those people who say and do things to hurt us. And if we can not do it alone, there is no shame in asking for help.

Thanks for letting me share my view.

GS

 

Dear Dr. Yael,

I read your column this week and, although, you were talking about toxic parents, I worry that I have a toxic spouse. My husband always makes me feel inadequate and inferior and as if I can never do anything right. Is he a toxic spouse?

A Reader

 

Dear G.S. and A Reader,

Thank you for taking the time to write and allowing me to clarify this complicated issue. Yes, toxic people can exist in any relationship. In the column you both referenced, we were discussing toxic parents. This week I would like to focus on toxic spouses.

Marriage, as we know, is a lot of hard work. That is one of the reasons why I believe that reading fairy tales to young children is a disservice – they make marriage seem magical. Now, it’s true that couples do experience amazing magical moments, but only when both spouses put in the work necessary to make them possible.

Toxic is a very extreme word. It is defined as “acting as or having the effect of a poison; poisonous.” If thinking of your spouse as poisonous to your life sounds absurd, then maybe things are not as bad as they seem. But if the definition resonates with you, then it would be prudent to look at the signs of a toxic spouse. Some signs of a toxic spouse are:

 

  1. Make You Feel Inferior – While its normal to sometimes feel badly about yourself, if your spouse is continuously making you feel inferior, something is wrong.
  1. Find Fault in Everything You Do – Everyone makes mistakes and messes up sometimes, but constant criticism from your spouse is not okay, especially if there’s never any positive feedback.
  1. You’re Always Walking on Egg Shells – It’s extremely unhealthy if you do not feel safe to discuss issues with your spouse. Everyone is entitled to a bad day or even a bad week, but you should not feel that you have to constantly censor what you say or that you can never have a conversation with your spouse.
  1. Encourage You to Withdraw From Family and Friends – If your spouse encourages you to or forces you to cut off your family and friends, this is a huge red flag. There are circumstances under which you may feel the need to withdraw from someone, but in general, your spouse shouldn’t be encouraging you to cut people out of your life.
  1. You Lie About Your Relationship – If things are so bad that you are afraid to be honest about how your marriage is going, it may be an indication that you think you deserve better.
  1. Are Controlling – If your spouse controls how you spend your money, who you hang out with, or even little things like what to eat for dinner, then it would be prudent to seek professional help immediately. This is a pretty clear sign of toxicity.
  2. Don’t Take Responsibility for Their Actions – “You chose to feel that way,” is the most passive-aggressive comment you’ll hear from a toxic spouse. If your spouse never takes responsibility for his/her actions, you have an issue. Constantly being told everything if your fault, especially when it’s something you have zero control over, is very damaging to your sense of self.
  1. Aren’t Sorry for Making You Upset – Sometimes in the heat of the moment, your spouse may not show any remorse, but once you both calm down, your spouse should feel bad for upsetting you and want to make it better. The three most important words in a marriage are “I am sorry!” If these words are completely absent, then you are likely dealing with a toxic person or one who needs intensive therapy. Of course, someone who is constantly putting you down, being emotionally abusive and then apologizing is no better. However, someone who always thinks he or she is right is also dangerous.
  1. Ignores You – When someone ignores your feelings and communication efforts it can make you feel alienated and alone. It’s a terrible feeling and can be a very bad sign. Some people have very poor communication skills and need to work on this, so this sign alone is not a deal breaker; however, if you are nodding your head to many of these signs, it’s definitely a sign of danger. Poor communication skills are easy to remediate if caught early on.
  2. You Feel Miserable All The Time – The most crucial sign to look for is feeling miserable every time you are around your spouse. You’re supposed to be happy with your spouse. There will be days where he or she is driving you crazy and you just want to be along, you should not be feeling miserable and unhappy on a daily basis when you are with your spouse.

 

People are complicated, but anyone making a concerted effort to work on him or herself is likely not toxic. However, if the signs noted above are prevalent in your marriage it is imperative that you seek professional help.

Staying away from toxic people who are not in your immediate family is a whole other story and will be addressed in another column. Hatzlocha!

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Dear Dr. Yael,

As this is not the first time I am reading about grandparents and their Yom Tov experiences with their children and grandchildren (11-25), I was most interested to see how you would answer the writer. I thought your answer was tactful, delicate and full of common sense. You were able to point out that the children did not intend to “dump” their families and relax, and I commend you. Your insight and caring shows in all of your articles.

I, too, am a grandmother, and although my children do try to reign in their own children’s natural exuberance and are very helpful to me in the kitchen and house, it is only natural for squabbling, messes, etc. to occur. (My father lived with us the last three years of his life, so I also know about the “sandwich” aspect, which wasn’t actually addressed in the letter.) After our last get-together, when I was putting the pieces of the house back in order, I stopped to reflect that I would rather spend time straightening and cleaning up than be in the position of other older women I know, some of whom do not have children, and some who are not even married yet! Perhaps if this lady would consider that, she would be able to count her blessings, along with putting all of your suggestions into practice.

Please keep up your columns. I know your readers appreciate you!

Best wishes,
A Reader

Dear Reader,

Thank you for your letter and your kind words. You are correct that we all should count our blessings and feel fortunate that these are the “stresses” that we experience. Many people cry to me over Yom Tov that they wish they had these pressures instead of being alone. That is why it is important to be sensitive to people in these situations and to not complain to them about your family-related stresses. As you said, no matter how hard it is to host family, it sure beats not having this “hardship.”

Of course, the original letter was written mostly in jest in order to bring home a point. It’s helpful to bring up these issues as many times both parties do not see the other person’s perspective. Most children are giving and loving, but are stressed by their own lives. Many women are holding down jobs while taking care of their households and this can be very taxing. Many men are learning and/or working full time, while trying to be helpful at home. This can also be demanding and tiring. Most couples look forward to coming home, so that their parents can “take care of them.” It is useful, though, for them to read about how their parents feel. This can help them be more aware of the little things they can do to make Yom Tov more enjoyable and less overwhelming.

On the other hand, it is also valuable for parents to understand their children’s perspective. Most are not trying to dump on their parents, they just want to feel “taken care of” again. They look forward to being with their parents and, although it is not easy to pack up a whole family and share rooms to be together with family, they do so gladly. With some healthy boundaries, parents can spoil their kids (if they want to), while not feeling taken advantage of. Of course, if you do not want to take the brunt of the work, you need to make that clear from the beginning in a loving and positive tone. Saying something like, “We wish we could spoil you, serve you, and take care of the children while you relax, but we are getting older and this is getting hard for us. We would love to have you for Yom Tov, but we will need you help with…” Perhaps your children would prefer that you come to them or will be happy to comply with your requests as long as they are spelled out in the beginning. Communication is key!

In general, it is a good idea to focus on the positives, it makes us happier and less anxious. After all, we all have different struggles and no one gets away “scot-free.” Of course, it is normal to feel overwhelmed by day-to-day things and especially by hardships. During those times, it is helpful to make checklists and be organized, even if this is not your nature. This will help you keep on top of whatever it is you need to do. Remember, try to ask for help when needed so that you do not feel resentful of your family.

For more stressful situations, the more you can focus on the good in your life and use a lot of positive self-talk (i.e., “I can do this,” “I am amazing for doing what I do with my daily struggles,” “I am worthwhile and contribute a lot to my family and society”), the better you will feel and the more able you will be to deal with these struggles. Try to seek professional help from someone who can help you overcome the overwhelming feelings if these suggestions are not helping.

Hatzlocha!

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Dear Dr. Yael,

I am writing to thank you for helping me get married over 20 years ago.  At that time I was constantly rejecting people who were good for me and was attracted to people who were unhealthy for me. With your counsel, I married a really sweet guy who is an amazing husband and, Baruch Hashem, we have a beautiful family. I wanted to share this nachas letter with you publicly so that others would learn from my experience as well.

In therapy I recognized the negativity that I had grown up with and how critical my parents were of me and of each other. I began to understand that I was seeking out negative men who were in sync with my imago.  It was you who encouraged me to continue dating my husband whom initially I was not attracted to – he was just too nice.

I wonder if both the shidduch crisis and divorce crisis are a result of people getting stuck in their negative imagos.  I am approaching shidduchim soon with my own children.

They were brought up in a loving positive home.

Please share with your readers how you help people marry against their negative imagos. I know men and women struggle with this problem.  May you continue to help people marry well and stay married. A Happy Former Client Dear H.F.C.,

Thank you for taking time to write and share your nachas with our readers.

To explain the imago therapy and how it relates to dating, I have compiled a story that is based on several client histories.

David is a successful attorney and works for a prestigious law firm.  He is tall, good-looking and has gone out with many women.

Generally in therapy he would first discuss his professional successes and then begin talking about Shoshana, the woman that he loved.  He was totally bewitched by her and would marry her in a minute if she would agree.

However, Shoshana kept refusing to make a commitment to him and always delayed talking about an engagement.  When David met Shoshana, she seemed to be everything that he was looking for in a wife.  She was attractive, intelligent and had a sparkling personality. However, as the relationship developed, he noticed that whenever they went to a restaurant to eat dinner, she always complained about the service or the food, no matter how good he thought the restaurant was.  She would complain constantly about her job, but would do nothing to try to improve her working conditions. She was a Physician’s Assistant and could have found many other positions; however, she continued at her job without trying to change the situation.

Instead of focusing on these negative traits, David would focus on her discriminating taste.  As far as her constant complaining about work, when she would rant and rave about her awful job, David would see her as a real trooper for putting up with such difficult working conditions. “Other people would have quit the job long ago,” he would share with me in therapy proudly. The thing that bothered David about Shoshana was that she was unavailable.

She would go out with him once a week on Motzei Shabbos or Sunday and insist on not seeing him during the week. She said she needed some “breathing space.” David agreed to her terms even though he knew that she was dating other men during the week.

She made it clear that he had no choice but to grant her more freedom. To compensate for the situation, David started to date Rena, a woman completely different from Shoshana.

Rena was devoted, compliant, and patient – and crazy about David. She would marry him in a minute.

David would tell me, “Rena is crazy about me and I am crazy about Shoshana. I really don’t care that much about Rena, and when I am not around her, it is as if she does not exist.  I feel guilty, since I am just dating Rena to get back at Shoshana.  I feel like I am taking advantage of Rena. Whenever I am not thinking about work or davening or learning Gemara, I am dreaming about Shoshana.”  Rena happened to be prettier than Shoshana, was more educated (she was a physician), and was clearly more emotionally stable.  Rena was dependable, warm, caring and, as David said, “charming to others.”

So why was David so attached to Shoshana who treated him so poorly? Why was he unable to see all of Rena’s wonderful qualities and willing to overlook Shoshana’s faults?

It should come as no surprise that David had a very critical distant mother who would often tune him out and be emotionally unavailable to him.  His father was a workaholic who never had any time for David.  He provided well for the family financially, but was not there for his wife or children on an emotional level.

When his mother got that distracted look, David would become angry and she would then punish him by spanking him and sending him to his room.  His mother would not talk to him for hours and he remembers crying in his room.  One day, when he was crying for hours, with both of his parents not available to him, he looked in the mirror in his room and saw his tear-streaked face. He said to himself, “What is the use of crying?”  From that day on, he never cried again.  Instead he became stoic, trying not to feel pain.

What was so attractive about Shoshana?  Shoshana reminded David of his mother.  She was always complaining, she hurt him constantly and distanced herself by dating other men.  In therapy, David began to see this and understood that his “old brain” yearned for closeness with someone who was like his mother.  In contrast, Rena was completely different. Shoshana was David’s imago; his imago was unhealthy. In therapy, David had to learn to let go of his negative imago.  Baruch Hashem, David was able to realize that Rena was truly a healthy woman who would be an amazing wife.

Today David and Rena are happily married with a young mishpacha.

Your imago is your unconscious idealized image of your mother and/or father that influences your behavior and your marriage choices. If you have a good relationship with your parents, chances are you will have a healthy and good relationship with your spouse. You would still have to be careful not to over-react to your spouse when he/she acts like your parent in a way that upsets you; however, with some communication skills, this relationship can work.

The problem arises when you have a difficult relationship with one or both of your parents.  Many times, individuals subconsciously try to marry someone in order to work out the issues that they had with one or both of their parents.  If these are minor issues, there is a possibility that this can work, but there will be marital discord.

Dear readers, if you are stuck in a dating cycle and do not know why you are not finding the right person, please seek professional help.

Hatzlocha to all.

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Dear Dr. Yael,

I was going through some old copies of Olam Yehudi and came across an article written by Dvora Waysman. I am writing to ask you for some clarity on an issue she raised.

Ms. Waysman, like most frum people, believes that family is everything that is good in a Jewish life – no exceptions. If a person does not get along with his or her family, it must be his or her fault. All families are warm and loving environments. Her article even says “families are like fudge – mostly sweet with a few nuts – but we do care about them because they are kin.”

What a harmful generalization. Since when does some shared DNA guarantee that a person will not treat his or her kinfolk like garbage?

Not everyone lives in Ms. Waysman’s idealized fudge house. In the United States and in other countries a tremendous amount of time, energy and money is spent to protect children from abusive family environments.

I grew up in a war zone. After struggling with depression for many years, I realized that my family was filled with toxic people. I am now estranged from my sister and had distanced myself emotionally from my mother. I took care of her physically as she aged, but out of duty. When my mother would do something particularly mean or callous to me, she would justify it by saying that, as she was my mother, she could do or say anything to me. Many family members use the “blood excuse” to justify their abusive behavior towards others.

Baruch Hashem, with a wonderful wife and great therapists, I have made progress in becoming a healthy person. As I said, many families create hostile environments in their home. There is even a tefillah in my Yom Kippur machzor that tries to reconcile “Honor your mother and father” with the painful reality that many mothers and fathers do terrible things to their children.

H. W.

 

Dear H. W.,

As a therapist, I know that what you endured as a child was, unfortunately, endured by many other people as well. An abusive family is toxic and can literally destroy a child.

I believe that “Honor your mother and father” does not mean “Love your mother and father.” And I think it is amazing that in spite of enduring the difficulties you describe growing up, you did care for your mother anyway.

It is true that growing up in an abusive home is very damaging for a child. There are parents who do not realize that raising a child means building his or her self-esteem and loving him or her in a way that builds his or her inner strength.

While I do not know your own mother’s family history, my professional experience tells me that people who are toxic were often raised in toxic environments.

It has been said that even among Holocaust victims, those who came from healthier homes were able to function with a better attitude than those who came from toxic homes. Author Victor Frankel wrote that the only thing in one’s control during the war was how one responded to being tortured. Those with a will to live and the ability to cope sometimes fared better. Dr. Douglas Labier, PhD once wrote, “First, consider some less visible forms of abuse, beyond the physical, that can create lasting consequences. For example, parental neglect; indifference to the child’s needs or temperament; outright humiliation; deliberate denigration. All may be fueled by the parent’s own self-hatred, jealousy, or narcissism.”

A study conducted by researchers at UCLA and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined the effects of abuse and corresponding lack of parental affection across the body’s entire regulatory system. It found strong links between negative early life experiences and health, across the board. The effects permeate one’s entire mind-body system.

This study of 756 subjects suggested that “biological embedding” occurs through programming brain circuitry in ways that shape response patterns to subsequent stress. That causes wear and tear extending across multiple mind-body systems, and creates adverse health outcomes decades later. The researchers suggest that toxic childhood stress alters neural responses to stress, boosting the emotional and physical arousal to threat, and making it more difficult for that reaction to be shut off.

I often tell my clients that in coming for therapy and changing yourself and the way you relate to your own family in essence changes the lives of the generations that will emanate from you. Baruch Hashem, you found a positive, loving wife and somehow fought your own depression, even though you had to create your own survival tools.

Hatzlocha in your journey to psychological good health.

Dr. Yael Respler

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/dear-dr-yael-99/2016/12/02/

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