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Help Yourself

One of the most painful forms of suffering is watching someone you love in pain and not being able to do anything about it

Help Yourself

Sarah Rivkah Kohn

Too often, we see someone struggling with their mental health, and we want to assist them in getting the help they need, but they turn us down. “I’m not going to a therapist,” they tell us

But they really need help.

One of the most painful forms of suffering is watching someone you love in pain and not being able to do anything about it. In many cases you can only daven that they get the clarity to do what’s best for them.

However, here are a few ideas worth trying:


If this is your child:

  1. If the child is resistant, the best thing is to let it go. Forced therapy is ineffective therapy. It also creates adults who will absolutely never go to therapy because of their negative associations.
  2. Engage in your own therapy. In many cases, especially with young children, if the parent seeks help, they can shake up the patterns of behavior.
  3. Find an opening. The child may not want to see a therapist to deal with his OCD, but he may be a very willing participant if you address something bothering him. For instance, if there’s an “annoying sibling” and you can say, “It’s really hard to live with someone who’s always getting mad at you — let’s find a therapist who can help with that.” Now that’s a whole ’nother story….
  4. Whatever you do, never tell a child during a meltdown, “You know what you need?! Therapy!” You can be sure they’ll stay far away, as going will be seen as an admission that something is “wrong” with them. Who wants to feel defective?


If this is your sibling or spouse:

Lots of the above still applies, especially the part about doing your own work. Think of a dance circle. One person begins to change the moves and one of three things happens:

  1. The others follow suit and the entire dance changes.
  2. One person refuses to change the dance steps, which creates a tug of war, and eventually one of the people will leave the circle as it’s untenable.
  3. One person watches the others change steps, and watches their feet very carefully. Although she doesn’t fully get the new moves, she can keep up with a poor mimic.

In the dance of adult relationships, when one person begins to do healing work, new dance moves are introduced and one of the above scenarios tends to play out. So if you feel stuck with an individual who won’t get the help he/she needs, do your own work — it will inevitably bring about some form of change.

When it comes to adults, it’s important to know that resistance tends to build every time you insist they need help. Bring it up (kindly!) as a suggestion or question, and then let it go for a long while before bringing it up again.


If this is your neighbor or friend:

Be extremely cautious in how you go about this.

First, be sure you’re the right person. Relationships are often severely impacted by the mere suggestion.

If you’ve found something helpful, you may want to share in that form (without oversharing!). For example: “I really struggled with one of my children’s anger and I found it so helpful to join a group for parents of children with similar challenges. They’re forming a group now for parents of children with anxiety and I wish I could tell all my friends about how powerful this group format is.” Sharing like this takes the edge off the suggestion.

After you make the suggestion, lay off. You can’t control the outcome of your advice and chasing for follow-up info — “So did you call the therapist?” — can feel very invasive.

So often I believed that my way of conceptualizing a situation was the only way. Hashem showed me that while I believed the yeshuah needed to come through this source, He was the Source of all resources and could bring about change from elsewhere. We need to try to do our best, but the results aren’t up to us.


Important note: All this advice goes out the window when there’s an addiction, self-harm, or abuse. In those cases seek guidance that’s specifically geared to your situation.


Sarah Rivkah Kohn is the founder and director of Links and Shlomie’s Club, an organization servicing children and teens who lost a parent.



Bulletproof Your Boundaries

Esther Goldstein

Making time for yourself isn’t selfish. It’s actually a kindness toward the people who tend to bear the brunt of your stress, and an act of kindness to yourself!

“Kindness” that costs you self-preservation isn’t kindness, it’s self-neglect. You can tell your neighbor that you aren’t available during your quiet time in the evening. You can tell a boss that you will not be available to answer your phone during evening hours, and unless there’s an emergency you will not be responding to texts or emails during your time off (if you’re in a position that doesn’t really require you to work 24/7). You don’t have to adapt to other people’s boundary dysfunction if it’s hurting you.

Many of us think that when we set boundaries we’ll be hurting people’s feelings. It may cause temporary discomfort, but it actually creates a life jacket to preserve the relationship for the long run. Allowing resentment and frustration to build up is actually what destroys relationships — not boundaries.


Esther Goldstein is an anxiety and trauma specialist who runs a group practice called Integrative Psychotherapy & Trauma Treatment, in the Five Towns, Long Island, New York. Esther also has a trauma training program for therapists.



Make It Automatic

Sara Glaz

Automation can be a game changer when it comes to your finances. Make late charges and cancellations a thing of the past, and put your recurring (monthly and yearly) bills on automatic billing. No retirement savings? Automate a yearly contribution to your retirement account. No emergency fund or savings? Automate a monthly deposit into a brokerage and savings account.


Sara Glaz is an investment advisor and financial planner at The Munk Wealth Management Group in Cedarhurst, New York.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 779)

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