| A Better You |

Rules to Live By: Part 2

Here are five more of the lessons I’ve learned — and I’m still learning

Rules to Live By: Part 2 

Esther Goldstein LCSW

“Esther, can you tell me some life secrets you’ve learned from over ten years of being a therapist?” my friend asked me. Here are five more of the lessons I’ve learned — and I’m still learning

  1. Ask Yourself: “What’s Going Well in My Life?”

According to neuroscience, we have this thing called “negativity bias” — we’re programmed to look at what’s not working in our lives rather than what is.

To shift our neural networks, we can make it a daily task to think about what IS working in life. It may be something super small or something more significant. But name it, point it out, and even share it with someone else. Shifting your focus to what’s working can bring more positivity into your life.

  1. Save the “What If’s” for When They Happen 

This suggestion is from my deeply wise son. We often talk about the “worry bug” and how it grows when we feed it, and it shrivels up when we notice it but don’t feed it. We all have “what ifs.” They’re there to protect us from disappointments, so that we feel prepared for when things go sour, which — let’s be real — they sometimes do.

We can be aware of potential bumps in the road, but we must move ahead anyway. So be cautious, but stay steady and keep going.

  1. Do Small Things to Support What You Treasure Most

To protect your values and the things you hold dear, you need to support them in a very intentional and real way. If you treasure family mealtime, then put small fences in place to ensure that you’re able to enjoy and fully show up for that time. Focus on what matters, and take the steps to protect it!

  1. Create a Vision

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” —Carl Jung

We were designed to create, and to create we need a vision. What we can imagine brings a sense of wonder and hope to our souls. What kind of life do you envision for yourself? What are your hopes and dreams? What’s beyond yourself that’s yet to be discovered?

  1. Foster and Embrace Joy

Laugh. A lot! Science shows that laughter is truly good medicine for the brain and heart. It’s easy to take life too seriously. We need to cultivate a place for joy to grow and emerge. Think of three things right now that bring you joy or make you smile, then choose a time each day to embrace them!

Esther Goldstein LCSW 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.


The Grief Journey 

Sarah Rivka Kohn

Grief will take up as much space as it needs to.

Grief will stick around as long as it’s needed.

With the advent of the recent announcement of Prolonged Grief Disorder being added to the DSM, many felt validated that their grief was not a “thing.” But just as many, if not more, were frustrated at the idea that a group of professionals felt they could decide how long grief is meant to last before becoming a disorder.

So much is missing from the diagnostic criteria. Many elements are ignored, such as: What was the relationship with the deceased? What was the cause of death? Was the death sudden? Was the mourner witness to it? In the case of parental loss, what was the relationship with the surviving parent like prior to the loss? All of these aspects greatly affect how grievers will grieve.

As always, the Torah has the perfect prescriptions for timings. Because the Torah acknowledges that feelings of grief can stick around for longer than the year of aveilus, there are many halachos that end after a year, but sensitivities that last a lifetime. For example, Yizkor is said for a lifetime after the death. It does not end after a year. Yahrtzeit, which happens annually, means that for one day many of the hilchos aveilus come back for a full day. There are many minhagim related to simchahs that take loss into account such as extending invitations to deceased relatives to join the simchah. There are halachos of what one may and may not say to an orphan out of concern for their hurts. The Torah accepts that the lingering effects of grief can last a lifetime.

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


Get Motivated

Abby Delouya RMFT-CCC, CPTT

Lack of motivation can be the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals. Try these three motivation boosters:

  1. Fake it till you make it; your actions may change your emotions.
  2. Use the ten-minute rule: Give yourself permission to quit after ten minutes. Kitchen is a mess after a toddler food fight? Set the timer for ten minutes and see what you can get done in that timeframe. Getting started is usually the hardest part, and you may be surprised at how much can happen in ten minutes.
  3. Pair a dreaded task with something you enjoy: Listen to music while you exercise. Call a friend while you clean. Listen to a shiur while you fold laundry.

Abby Delouya RMFT-CCC, CPTT is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist in private practice with a specialty in trauma and addiction. Abby lives in Monsey, NY and maintains her practice in Canada.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 812)

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