Entries by Rabbi Elazar Bloom, LMFT

Bubby’s Relationship Wisdom #1

“One Mother Accomplishes More than 100 Teachers”
Like it or not, our first relationship is the most important one of our lifetime and everything that happens (or doesn’t happen) in it will impact all subsequent relationships. This is not a sentence, it is just how things work. The more you accept it, understand it and become aware of the raw spots you own because of it, the better chance you have to take responsibility for what is yours in the relationship. Even (or especially) when it so clearly seems to be your partner’s problem.
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In the original yiddish:
“Ayn mame dergreykht mer vi a hundert lerers

KNOW YOUR STYLE – How You Handle Stress WILL Affect Your Relationship

What is your reaction to (emotional) stress?
What is your partner’s reaction to (emotional) stress?
If you tend to turn UP the Volume to connect, feel seen and supported, while your partner’s tendency is to turn DOWN the volume to maintain a status of “OK” and focus on solutions, then….
One of you will regularly feel NEGLECTED
One of you will regularly feel ATTACKED
One of you will feel (s)he is NEVER THERE FOR ME
One of you will feel (s)he is NEVER SATISFIED
One of you may feel WORTHLESS
One of you may feel like a FAILURE
BOTH OF YOU will have made a mistake. Each of you is trying to feel good in the relationship and life, you just have different ways of working toward that.
Suggestion: Talk openly about how you handle emotional stress. Find out what your partner’s strategy is, how it helps him/her and why. See if you can notice this in action next time it comes up.

The Burden of Responsibility

When God places Adam in the Garden to guard and serve it, the verse states:
“And the Lord, God TOOK Adam and PLACED him in the Garden..”
Apparently Adam did not want to go on his own. What was in the way? Was not the garden glorious?
The answer our sages give is that Adam feared responsibility.
Responsibility. Service. Sacrifice. Love.
What if I fail? What if it’s too much for me?
Going beyond one’s small “I” is difficult. The fear of what it might say about me if I do not succeed is overwhelming. The shame of it feels too much to bear.
Hakuna Matata is a lot safer.
So, God got us started, “Here you go, you can do this, it may not be easy but I’ve got your back. We’re doing this together. This is good for our relationship, this is not, but either way we’ll get to where we need to go, as long as you are willing to continue to show up.”

Stop Hitting Yourself

Most people I have discussed this with admit that they have a pretty healthy inner voice that can be critical, judgmental and sometimes downright abusive.
This voice developed very early as an adaptive strategy to a an unsettled environment. And life itself is unsettling. The more chaos there was in the environment, the greater the need for control and the stronger the voice.
Consider:
Would you rather be suddenly punched by someone you love or punch yourself?
Most of us would choose the latter. We can brace ourselves, control the intensity of the punch and it also makes very clear what the issue is in a way that can be directly confronted. Much more manageable. Very adaptive strategy.
As a child, this survival strategy is not only useful but necessary.
And it is not true. Firstly, life is inherently unsettling. Period. And if the people around you are making it more unsettling, chaotic even? That sucks. You couldn’t do anything else then, but you can now. You can allow the adult chaos makers to take responsibility for it. They may be able to, or they may not. It’s not really important.
What’s really important is that you stop hitting yourself, or at least know when you are, and that it is no longer serving you.

Why You Can’t Smell the Flowers

A possible reason why you aren’t happy.
Well, you might be running from a bear.
And if you are,
it will be hard to stop and smell the flowers.
Or notice anything else of grace and beauty.
And there may not actually be any bear
but if your nervous system is jammed in that setting, that is how it will seem.
Work with your nervous system, learn how to reboot it with daily practices like breath work,
you will notice the flowers and so much more

Forgive (for) Yourself

I often have trouble forgiving others because of what I experienced as a result of what they said or did to me. Nobody was there for me in that pain and I actually believed some of the “not good” I was feeling about myself in those moments. Not wanting to feel that, I would blame the other person as being a mean, insensitive, uncaring, selfish, etc. That was all I could do to protect myself, but the price continued to grow with years of further distancing and protection. From him and her, from others as well. And they didn’t even do anything……yet.
So, forgive (for) yourself, be there for the hurt and pain you experienced, understand it and show compassion for it. That will begin to allow you to let go of the protection of blame, to forgive, to free oneself from a story that was never true in the first place.

Courage v. Ambition

Courage is the willingness to show up and serve life, while accepting the inevitable pain and discomfort involved.

Ambition is the need to prove that I am significant by what I can accomplish in life, avoiding pain and discomfort as much as possible.

Courage is rooted in love and abundance.

Ambition is rooted in fear and scarcity.

Courage sees others as equals.

Ambition sees others as superior or inferior.

Courage listens.

Ambition speaks.

In Courage I belong to a greater whole.

In Ambition I am alone.

 

 

Two of the Most Dangerous Words to Say to Your Child

Two of the most dangerous words you can say to your child:
“You’re Special”
They are dangerous not because they are a lie. They are dangerous because they can be about YOUR need to have a “special child”.
The burden the child then bears is one of “not enough”. The fear that being his normal, imperfect, human self is not impressive enough.
This costs him. Because against the burden of this fear he will have to defend. And the greatest cost is that it will hold him back from truly connecting with the beauty of his true self and encountering that in others.
Instead, teach him that he is special, like him and her. Not because of innate “gifted” qualities but for his unique capacity to be a pipe, a channel for love, for compassion, for the divine. And most importantly, that this pipe remains open, for all experiences, even and perhaps especially when he is feeling the vulnerability of pain, his own and that of others. To care about and be cared for and allow something higher, greater and more beautiful to enter the world.

Reflecting on My Parents’ 50th Anniversary

I spend many hours a week with loving, amazing, dedicated couples in pain. Why the heck did I choose this strange line of work? I used to think it was because of my own marriage. 18+ years of creating a relationship with my wife Rivkah that is so important to me that I want to help others experience the depth of meaning in that journey. I like to take credit for my accomplishments.
Yesterday I realized how little I can own here. More honestly, it’s about what my parents taught me without saying a word. It’s about a silent and sometimes uncomfortable commitment to another human being, come what may. It’s about loss and love, pain and protection. It’s about writing a story together. A story co-written with ink crafted from the whole range of human experience. It’s hard. It’s courageous and it’s exquisitely beautiful. It’s the way I want to live and support others as they bravely struggle to do similarly.
So, while I like to arrogantly take full credit for my life, my passion and my purpose, I realize that I stand on the shoulders of giants. Two of them, my parents, remarkable people that continue to teach me what life and love are really about, without saying a word.

Emotional Infection – This is How it Happens

A physical infection happens when something that shouldn’t be there lodges itself in the body. When that happens there is irritation, inflammation and tenderness. Touch the infection and you will get a strong reaction.
 
An emotional infection happens when we experience a normal emotion (anxiety, sadness, anger, etc.) and OUR MIND TELLS OUR BODY that the emotion should not be there. It experiences it as an undesirable foreign element. Where the mind learned that is for another time, but the result is that there is now irritation, inflammation and tenderness around that emotion. It not only gets bigger, it becomes infected. The natural emotion now presents in ways that look different than the original core emotional experience.
 
And yes, it is HERE around this infection that you (and I) will find the TRIGGERS – the things that makes us react strongly and go OUCH!
 
This is the challenge. In the my next post I will share a solution, an approach that allows emotions to remain healthy and keeps the oozing puss at bay.