| A Better You |

Start with Self

Keeping our internal conversation loving is a gift and an obligation to ourselves

Start with Self

Sara Eisemann, LMSW, ACSW

“Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.” —Robert Holden

These days, self-compassion is all the rage. It’s the buzz word everyone is talking about.

But somehow, we resist. When this concept is presented to a frum crowd, inevitably one woman will ask, “Isn’t this selfish? What’s with all the focus on me, me, me? It’s so anti-Torah!”

And then the education begins. In truth, self-love is a necessary prerequisite to healthy relationships. Look at “v’ahavta lerei’acha kamocha.” Love your neighbor as yourself. Do you really think Hashem meant for us to engage in self-hatred and then pay it forward?! It sounds ludicrous when you say it out loud, but if we gave that mitzvah even one second of thought we’d realize that inherent in the mitzvah is the assumption that we love ourselves.

And yet... think about the number of times we speak unkindly to ourselves each day.

“You’re so dumb, who does that?!”

“Uch, you’re such a failure, look at this house. Everyone else manages to keep it together. What’s wrong with you?”

And on and on.

If that’s how we “love” ourselves, then logic would dictate that we should “love” others that way as well. I think most people would say “Thanks anyway; keep that sort of ‘love’ far away from me.”

Somehow, we believe it’s acceptable to speak to ourselves in a harsh, disparaging manner, even though each of us is Hashem’s child. We don’t consider Hashem’s pain as He hears someone denigrating His child, thinking it’s somehow different because that child is us. We don’t see ourselves as worthy of that respect.

Keeping our internal conversation loving is a gift and an obligation to ourselves. But it also stretches to include others. If we love ourselves, we can project that love forward. When we learn to deeply accept ourselves as we are, we can truly accept others as they are. When we judge ourselves favorably, it becomes so much easier to judge others favorably, because we've already adopted a mindset of kindness and generosity.

When we maintain our own good boundaries, good boundaries with others flow naturally. A person who cares for their belongings, their body, and their space will relate to the world from a place of respect and will intuitively bring respect to their relationship with others. One who is mindful of time will extend that courtesy to everyone’s time. And on and on.

The first place to start in any relationship is to look within. When we see patterns emerging in our relationships, it’s usually a good indication that some repair needs to occur internally in that area. If we're forever critical of those around us, perhaps it’s a signal that we need to quiet the critic within. And as we heal that inner core and it shines brightly from within, we'll  radiate warmth and connection as we show up as our best self in our relationships.


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


Cough it Up

Dr. Jennie Berkovich

The common cold is frustrating for doctors and patients alike. Now, more than ever, pediatricians are seeing kids with persistent cough and cold symptoms that seem to linger beyond the initial days of illness. Here are some Dos and Don’ts when dealing with childhood cough:


  1. Watch for rapid breathing. Movement of the chest or tummy muscles or noticeable rib movements during breathing are called “retractions” and require an immediate evaluation by your healthcare provider.
  2. Address the nasal congestion first. Coughing is often the result of “post-nasal drip” and worsens at night. Older kids should be encouraged to use nasal saline and blow their noise, and younger babies should have their nose suctioned after a saline rinse as well. While it’s usually an unpleasant experience for all involved, this may provide some relief, especially prior to bedtime.
  3. Give honey for kids above age one. Honey has been shown to decrease the duration of cough, even better than cough medication.
  4. Use humidifiers or time in a steamy shower to help tame the cough.


  1. Give cough suppressants to kids, especially if they’re under the age of five. Coughing is a mechanism designed to clear the airway. Suppressing the cough can sometimes be dangerous since this may cause secretions to settle in the chest and cause infections like pneumonia. Avoid over-the-counter cough/cold medications as well since they can have a similar effect.
  2. Assume that every cough needs a chest X-ray or antibiotics. Many coughs are due to viral illnesses, and do not need any medication.
  3. Forget that some coughs can be due to a swallowed or inhaled foreign object. If a cough happens during feeds, occurs suddenly, and is severe, see a healthcare provider immediately.


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.


Absolutely? Not!

Sarah Rivkah Kohn

“Can” and “may” are two words that indicate openness to other thoughts and opinions. The only absolute is the Torah. Everything else? It can go one way or another. Trauma may cause a particular outcome or it may not. Grief can be experienced in one form or another. This act of kindness may be helpful or it may not be. This book or course may enable parents to navigate life with complex children… or it may not. When we state ideas as facts, we shut so many opportunities to learn about the other. By using “can” or “may” in our conversations, we maintain our ability to take in another perspective — and that’s one of the greatest ways to enable communication.


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


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 783)

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