| A Better You |

Here for You

A safe person holds what we share without judgment

Here for You

Sara Eisemann, LMSW, ACSW

Did you ever think about what it is that makes you comfortable confiding in some people and has you avoiding closeness with others? Your instinctive response might be that you trust some people — you know your secret is safe with them. And while that trust is imperative, safety actually runs much deeper than that.

A safe person holds what we share without judgment. They deeply understand what we’re trying to convey, and when they don’t, they ask questions from a place of curiosity, also without judgment. They see us as a whole being with various parts, one of which may be wounded and in need of extra love and care, as opposed to seeing us as damaged. They don’t try to fix, because fixing someone comes from relating to their brokenness. They love instead, because love relates to someone’s wholeness.

Some people are instinctively good at this. They often live in a place of compassion for their own humanity and are therefore able to relate to others with compassion. They forgive themselves for their humanity and can therefore forgive others as well. They understand that perfection is for Hashem, not for humans. These people invite confidence by their very presence.

For others, this is a skill that can be learned. It requires switching from a fixing mindset to an accepting mindset. The first step is to release the assumption that we know best what another person needs. It presupposes that every person possesses an inner wisdom about what he needs, which can best be accessed when the person feels safe and has the internal calm to tap into their intuition. It requires openness and a willingness to step into someone else’s world and to understand it from their vantage point.

“Fixing” feels really good. It makes us feel powerful and efficacious and allows us to divert our attention from the discomfort of feeling someone else’s pain. Sitting with someone’s pain can be disconcerting. But “fixing” indicates that something is broken, and feeling broken creates an inherent hierarchy between you that precludes true respect and real connection. It’s the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Once we’ve done the internal work of shifting mindsets, there are actual tools to help us become more emotionally welcoming. We can become those safe people by replacing judgment (fixing) with curiosity (accepting). We can create an energy of presence that conveys a message that what you have to say and how you feel is so important that I am totally focused on that, and that alone. Here are some excellent suggestions by Sara Kuburic of the type of language that lets us put that into practice:

If you want to talk, I’m listening.

I want to understand, can you tell me more?

Take your time, I’m not in a rush. This is important.

What’s the best way I can support you right now?

If you’re not ready to talk, I can just sit here with you.

Sara Eisemann, LMSW, ACSW, is a licensed therapist, Directed Dating coach and certified Core Mentor.


What You Control 

Dina Schoonmaker

When we’re in a difficult situation and tough feelings rush in, our primary response isn’t in our control; there’s no bechirah. When we see our friend with the bracelet we wish we could afford, we don’t think, “I want to be jealous.” The jealousy comes on its own. The secondary response, our reaction to that emotion, is where bechirah begins: now that I have this feeling, how do I want to react?

Many people’s secondary response is to be critical of their first response, questioning why they had the feeling they did. But that initial feeling isn’t in their control. We see proof of this in Koheles, “Ka’as b’cheik kesilim yanuach — anger rests in the embrace of a silly person.” A smart person and a fool can both be triggered and feel angry; what makes one a fool is embracing the anger rather than regulating himself.

Don’t waste time wallowing in your initial negative emotion. Instead, focus on what’s within your bechirah, and reframe, distract, and regulate.

Dina Schoonmaker has been teaching in Michlalah Jerusalem College for over 30 years. She gives women’s vaadim and lectures internationally on topics of personal development.


Medication Safety 

Dr. Jennie Berkovich

Storing medications safely out of reach is one of the most important steps families can take to keep kids safe. Thousands of emergency room visits occur yearly due to kids accessing medicine unintentionally.

Prescription medications, over-the-counter meds, and even vitamins should all follow safety rules when it comes to storing and administration. In the event of an ingestion, be sure to have the number for poison control (800-222-1222) easily displayed. The hotline is staffed by knowledgeable toxicology experts who will give recommendations ranging from what symptoms to look out for at home to going to the emergency room for further evaluation.

Key medication storage tips to remember:

Use medicine containers with safety caps and store them out of reach of children. For example, on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet.

Put medicines back in safe storage immediately after using them. Never leave children unattended with medicines even for a short period of time.

Remind babysitters, grandparents, and other visitors to keep purses, bags, or jackets that have medicines in them away from children’s reach.

When taking or administering medicines, do so over a sink and away from common areas of your home. If you spill medicine, clean it up immediately.

Never refer to medicine as “candy” to avoid making it enticing for kids to try on their own.

Use a syringe dropper or medication measuring spoon when giving liquid medications.

Not all over-the-counter medications are safe to give to children. Make sure to check with your health care provider before giving any medicine, including vitamins.

Keep track of each dose you give to avoid skipping or double dosing. Many medications need to be given at the same time every day. Missed doses can sometimes be made up later in the day or the following day (for example, antibiotics) but check with your health care provider for specific guidance.

Dr. Jennie Berkovich is a board-certified pediatrician and serves as the Director of Education for the Jewish Orthodox Women’s Medical Association (JOWMA) Preventative Health Committee.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 811)

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