In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 2, 2005 / 23 Shevat, 5765

Anger makes the soul go 'way

By Dr. Debby Schwarz Hirschhorn

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article | You could see the tension in the creases running down from her the outside of her nose to the corners of her mouth. You could see it in the two parallel lines between her brows. We'd been over this ground before: She yells at the children, totally "losing it," is angry at herself all the more for having done it yet again, and then, because she is in a really bad mood, does it still another time. At 37, you'd think she would have learned. Having taken a parenting course twice, you'd think she'd have learned.

She is one of the many parents who see or phone me for counseling at my office. I am not a psychologist; my degree is actually in Marriage and Family Therapy. Although I specialize in couples and families, I frequently see people alone. We'll call this woman Mindy. (All names and circumstances are made up to protect privacy.)

Mindy hates that she can't seem to get herself under control. She hates that the children "get" to her. She has a list of what she hates. But most of all, she hates herself.

Mindy is like many other parents who yell at their children. They don't want to be like that, but they don't know any other way. When they see the children misbehaving again and again with nothing apparently working, they reach their frustration tolerance levels very quickly and explode. They come from homes with yelling   —   or ignoring   —   so they duplicate what they know. But it goes beyond that: In their homes growing up, because their parents didn't know better themselves, they grew up not liking themselves. Children who are yelled at constantly believe that they must be awful, horrible people for their parents to yell at them like that all the time.

So they grow up not only not knowing how to behave differently, but with a very hostile view of themselves. Now, what do they do? They do the worst possible thing for themselves: They mistreat their children. Not only does it hurt the children. Not only does it not teach the children anything anyway, but it also reinforces the negative perception they already had of themselves as being bad people.

That makes my job much more difficult than it would seem. I can't just teach "parenting skills." Haven't you noticed that parenting skill training frequently doesn't work when you're angry? That's because you're really talking to two different people and only one of them can learn. As I said to Mindy, "You have a yetzer hara [evil inclination] and a yetzer hatov [good inclination]. That is the essence of how G-d created us   —   with free choice. Now, really, it's more complicated than that. Your yetzer hatov is the real You. It's your Soul. And remember, your Soul is part of G-d Himself. When you listen to your yetzer hatov, you are really listening to your own true Self.

"However, to assure that we make voluntary choices, G-d gave us the yetzer hara, too. The yetzer hara is described in the Midrash as the satan, an angel that works for G-d, testing us and challenging us constantly. That's his job. So here's the question for you: When you listen to and follow the yetzer hara, where are You? Where is your Self, your Soul? The real You? The good You? The yetzer hara has taken over your mind, your heart, your body, like a computer virus making your computer run amok. Where did your yetzer hatov go, anyway?

"Obviously, it's not there. Remember, your Soul is pure. G-d breathed a little of Himself into the first human to create life. That's the Soul. It's untarnished. So where are You when the yetzer hara takes over? Your Soul is hiding. The person who is screaming at the kids is a caricature of you, but it's not you. Your yetzer hara is in control and you're just not there."

I could see the lines on Mindy's face relax a little. "So I'm not the bad person I think I am" she said.

"Absolutely not." I replied. "You are good, kind, a person who wants to be a good mother."

The frown deepend again. "Okay," she challenged me, "If I'm really a good person, then how come I keep listening to my yetzer hara? How come I let a week go by without doing the exercise you taught me to feel better about myself? How come I don't use the parenting skills I was taught?"

"Good question!" I replied. "The satan is very tricky. Every time you yell at your kids, the satan has a victory. When you yell, the satan rubs it in that you are bad. Of course you're not bad! But the satan capitalizes on all your bad feelings about yourself growing up. Your new-found pride and joy in yourself is tenuous because of all the years you were made to believe quite the opposite. It only takes one slip for the satan to convince you that you are horrible. And then, of course, you don't deserve to do the healing exercises that we worked on. And if you're bad, you aren't going to use the parenting skills, either.

"But, see, the satan is wrong! None of that is You. You, your Soul, your true Self, runs into hiding when your yetzer hara takes over."

A look dawned on Mindy's face that I hadn't seen before. A slow smile spread over it. She looked me in the eye and said, "I'm certainly not going to let that yetzer hara win!"

And she didn't.

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JWR contributorDr. Debby Schwarz Hirschhorn, Ph.D. can be reached for an appointment at (954) 878-2817. While certainly interested in reader comments, as is JWR's publisher, she unfortunately is unable to reply. To comment, please click here.

The lie that was a blessing
Confessions of a religious feminist, Part II
Confessions of a religious feminist
Kindliness and Blood: A Passover Thought
Arguing: It's a Jewish thing

© 2005, Dr. Debby Schwarz Hirschhorn