Ten Reasons Why Therapy is Like a Jewish Mother

For those of us fortunate enough to have Jewish mothers we know how helpful they can be, how they only have good intentions, and how they aren't intruding, they are just concerned.  

Generally speaking, Jewish mothers are warm, loving and will do anything for their kids.  Anything.  Including constantly reminding their offspring how they can improve their lives.  Jewish mothers are the backbone of Jewish families and the driving force behind the success of their children.  Having my own Jewish mother, I started thinking about how the therapy experience can be similar to having a Jewish mother.  

Here are my top ten reasons:

Reason number 10:  Your Jewish mother wants you to be a doctor, lawyer, businessperson, etc.

Ok, so you don't actually have to be one of these professionals to be a success, but isn't that what she wants at the end of the day? For you to find a career that makes you feel accomplished and successful?  If you are struggling to find your way in the professional world, therapy can be great place to help you figure out how to best use your skills in a career.

Reason Number 9:  She wants you to marry a nice Jewish boy or girl 

And she would be happy to introduce you to him/her and tell you his or her credentials and why you are perfect for each other. Again, we don't have to take Mom literally to figure out that she wants us to meet the right person who will treat us well and who shares similar values.  So many people who seek therapy have difficulty finding and maintaining healthy relationships.  A good therapist can help you look inward and recognize how you contribute to negative patterns in relationships.  You can then learn the skills necessary to find and be a good partner.

Reason Number 8:  She wants to know when she is going to be a grandmother already!

After succeeding in convincing her children to become doctors and settle down with the right person, comes the ultimate success in being a Jewish mother, becoming a Jewish Grandmother.  Having a grandchild to spoil and brag about is a time-honored right of passage for all Jewish mothers.  But how can you even think about bringing a child into this world when you still see yourself as a child?  Therapy offers you an opportunity to grow and mature by facing the obstacles ahead.  You may find yourself stuck in the same behavior patterns and methods of coping that you used as a child or young adult.  In therapy, you can determine which behaviors are helpful and abandon those that prevent you from maturing.

Reason Number 7: Your Jewish mother wants to make sure you are eating enough.

Seriously, have you ever eaten a meal prepared by a Jewish mother? There is enough food to feed an army and everything is so good that by the time dinner is over, your pants are tight and you are in a full-blown food coma.  But she'll still ask you, "why didn't you try the blintzes?" or "I see you only had one piece of chicken....".  For a Jewish mother, dinner wasn't just to nourish your body, she wanted it to nourish your soul as well.  So, how do you nourish your soul?  What do you do to comfort yourself and/ or treat your self?  In today's fast paced society, it is easy to caught up in the daily grind.  Oftentimes, work, family and home obligations take priority over your personal needs.  Just by taking the time to have a weekly therapy appointment, you are making yourself a priority.  During your sessions, you can figure what passions you are overlooking and how you may incorporate them into your lifestyle.  Taking the time to care for yourself opens you up to becoming a better partner, parent and employee.

Reason Number 6: But she also doesn't want you eating too much....

As much as Mom is worried about you wasting away, she will also alert you to the fact that you may be putting on the pounds.  Not that you don't already know this.  Not that you need her to remind you regularly.  But she is concerned! Are you using food to help you relax, cheer you up or because you are just bored?  Maybe it's not food that you are relying on.  Perhaps that nightly glass of wine has turned into a bottle or your passing interest in video games has taken over all of your free time.  Facing and conquering addictive behaviors can seem daunting and at times impossible.  Your therapist can support you in deciding if this is the right time to work on your addiction and the best course of treatment.  The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone.  There are many support groups to which your therapist can refer you that have members coping with the same difficulties.

Reason Number 5: Your Jewish mother wants you to call her!

Those of you with a Jewish mother, have you ever tried avoiding her call? This is the kiss of death to a Jewish mother.  If you don't pick up the phone or return her call in the timeframe she deems reasonable, i.e. 5 minutes, the panic sets in.  A Jewish mother's mind goes from "he's probably in the shower" to "he's dead in a gutter" in 6 seconds flat.  Why would you do this to her?  You may think that she is completely overreacting, but maybe she just wants to make sure that you are not isolating yourself.  No Jewish mother wants to think about her little bubbaleh being all alone.  And she's right, of course!  We've all read studies that show that married people or those in long-term relationships live longer.  Others demonstrate how individuals who are older or are sick have longer lifespans when they are surrounded by others than those who are alone most of the time.  Human beings have evolved to live in communities and to depend on each other for our most basic physical and emotional needs.  The technology of our modern era has made it especially easy for people to avoid face to face contact with each other.  You may find yourself turning down dinner dates or opportunities to participate in community events because it is simpler to stay at home and watch TV or surf the internet.  Consequently, you may feel isolated and alienated from others.  In therapy, you can learn social skills to help you get out there and connect with others.

Reason Number 4: And she wants you to be safe of course

How many times have you left your Jewish mother's house with repeated reminders about wearing a jacket, putting on your seatbelt or locking your car doors right away? And you are 35 years old! With a husband and kids!  She just wants to make sure you get to wherever you are going without dying (see previous paragraph).  Yes, we know that Jewish mothers are a tad anxious, to put it mildly.  But all she wants is for you to be safe and healthy and do what you need to do to live a long healthy life.  In therapy, you may come to realize that you don't sleep enough, you don't eat nutritious foods and you hardly drink any water.  Please don't underestimate the importance of these three factors on both your physical and mental health.  Sleep deprivation, lack of nutrition and dehydration all impact your mood and energy levels which consequently negatively impacts all areas of your life.

Reason Number 3: Your Jewish mother is worried that you are too anxious

Wait, what? Anxiety is something that is both inherited and learned.  So blame her for that one! (She'll probably tell you it's from your father's side of the family).  Both anxiety and depression are two major reasons people seek therapy.  You might find that you are having trouble concentrating or getting out of bed in the morning.  You may be struggling to feel the joy you once felt doing activities you loved before.  Therapy creates an amazing opportunity for you to figure out underlying causes of your anxiety and depression as well as learn better coping skills.

Reason Number 2: Your Jewish mother wants you to go High Holiday services

Depending on your level of observance you may attend services weekly or only on the high holidays.  But your Jewish mother wants to make sure that you go when it really counts, so that you can say a prayer to land you a good job, find you a successful partner and/or get pregnant.  Just joking! Not really.  In all seriousness, spirituality comes in various forms, whether it be an organized religion, your own personal relationship with a higher power or your connection with nature.  Spirituality was once a topic that mental health care professionals avoided, but we now realize how much of a role it plays in our lives.  Some people have foundations of belief that are the source of inner strength, others have come out of their childhoods angry about their religious upbringing.  You can explore the role of spirituality in your life during your therapy sessions to find out if it can help you cope with your life stressors.

Reason Number 1: Your Jewish mother wants you to be happy

That's all Mom wants.  She wants you to be happy, and the way to obtain this happiness is by following her not demanding or judgmental at all steps listed in this top ten list.  She obviously holds the key to her children's happiness and is always baffled when they stray from the plan.  But she is always there with a solid "told you so!" and a hug when you come back home and admit that she was right after all.  Your mom wants you to be happy, your partner and your children want you to be happy, even your dog wants you to be happy.  Don't you want to be happy? If you aren't happy and can't seem to figure out what's wrong, consider calling a therapist to make an appointment.  I promise, your therapist will hold you accountable and has your best interest at heart just like Mom.  But without the other stuff.