Pressure on Orthodox women is self-imposed


THE expectation of being an Orthodox Jewish woman can lead to stress, according to clinical psychologist Stacey Levine.

She has seen several of these woman in recent years, but, she tells me, a lot of the pressure is self-imposed.

Stacey said: "These women put a lot of pressure on themselves. There is this expectation of the standards women have to live up to.

"They feel that every Shabbat meal has to be perfect, but this is their thought process . . . nobody has said this to them.

"I try to make them see where the thought process comes from and break it down for them."

Stacey will be speaking at the Women's Wellbeing Conference in London next weekend.

The conference is designed to provide a "mental vacation" and leave women feeling inspired, empowered and more in control of their own wellbeing

This year the conference's theme is 'resilience' and bouncing back.

South African-born Stacey worked for more than 10 years with individuals in both the psychiatric and private setting, but felt there was something missing within the mental health field.

In 2009, she moved to London and discovered the Three Principles of Innate Heath, a non-profit organisation providing resources for families and individuals to learn about their own innate mental wellbeing.

"I went on this journey about learning what the principles are," she said.

"Having learned about what a human experience comes from, it literally changed my career."

Stacey graduated from the One Thought Institute in London in 2012 and worked there for two years as both a consultant and teacher.

In 2014, Stacey decided to form True North with Dana Arenson.

Stacey explained: "True North was born out of the mutual passion of two friends to share with others what we had discovered for themselves - that by understanding three simple, universal principles behind all human experience, people are able to navigate life with greater ease.

"Our partnership has, at its core, the desire to point people in the right direction, toward their own unwavering innate health - toward their own True North."

Stacey currently works at the Innate Health Centre, where she is co-director of the personal development programme.

She sees clients from all walks of life, but admits that there are a lot of Orthodox women from "Stamford Hill down to Golders Green".

She said: "We don't talk religion. Understanding is for everyone. Innocently, they are putting pressure on themselves to keep up with the Joneses in a way.

"We are trying to get women to see that the pressure they put on themselves, to be the best mother, cook, business person etc, is all in the mind."

Stacey deals with patients of all ages and sexes.

Her biggest piece of advice is for them to see "where their feelings are coming from".

She added: "It's not where they think it's coming from. They are not coming from the external world.

"It is coming from the feeling in that moment. It sounds simple, but it's true.

"The person would have to see it for themselves, but they see that it comes from thought in the moment.

"The nature of thought is that it changes momentarily - just because they think something doesn't meant that it is true.

"They will see that there is more for them in life and experience can be more than what they see it is."

Understanding about thought can be a more educational approach to dealing with situations.

The 45-year-old continued: "We try to teach people not to be afraid of their situations.

"This teaches a human being how to operate - we all operate through the principle of thought.

"There was a young girl who came to me and she was very anxious.

"She had a lot of phobias, so I showed her that this was coming from her thoughts and being scared about something she thought would happen.

"We spoke about thought being a heavy rain cloud and that she was stuck in a storm that would pass.

"She realised that every time she thought scared, she felt scared and every time she thought bad, she felt bad.

"Just pointing that out to her made her understand what was going on, so the next time she had that thought she was able to get over it."

Stacey explained how, through treatment, people become kinder on themselves.

She said: "They begin to see the mechanisms of how their mind works, which gets them to relax.

"We also involve the partners. It's not a one size fits all - if it's appropriate then we will do."

According to one website, 19 per cent of millennials suffer with depression and will seek advice from doctors - who will in turn prescribe antidepressants.

Stacey said: "I'm not saying that there is no room for medication, but I would say to these people that they don't have to believe every thought they think.

"If people understand where their thoughts were coming from, it would help.

"I'm also not saying don't go to a doctor, but a doctor with an understanding of Innate Health would be the best place to go to."


© 2017 Jewish Telegraph