“How Esther Perel Teaches People to Make Kintsugi in Their Relationships”

Esther Perel is a psychotherapist who says she “enjoy[s] explaining the mysteries of the human condition in simple words. [She likes] to help people all over the world feel understood, confront their joys and pains, and be motivated to change.”

In Mixed Mental Arts’ terminology, Esther teaches people to make kintsugi out of their experiences and relationships through the act of reframing.

On her podcast “Where Should We Begin” many couples come to her with one story that isn’t working and her goal is to help them find the possibility of a better story.

As a third culture kid Esther has observed and moved through many different cultures in her life. The daughter of Polish Holocaust survivors; she grew up in Antwerp,  married a man from the Southern United States, and currently lives in New York City.

Esther has “worked extensively as a cross-cultural psychologist with couples and families in cultural transition, primarily refugees, internationals, and mixed marriages—interracial, interreligious, and intercultural couples.”

Likely because of these multicultural professional and personal experiences she understands that everything is a story  and that often in order to heal yourself or your relationship you need to tell different story, one that envisions you as a triumphant character coming back to life. This was a lesson Esther learned from her parents.

“My parents Sala Ferlegier and Icek Perel were survivors of the Nazi concentration camps, and sole survivors of their respective families…They came out of that experience wanting to charge at life with a vengeance and to make the most of each day. They both felt that they had been granted a unique gift: living life again. My parents didn’t just want to survive, they wanted to revive. They wanted to embrace vibrancy and vitality — in the mystical sense of the word, the erotic. I owe them much of my perspective on life, as well as my belief in the power of will, the search for meaning, and the resilience of the human spirit. To me, there is a world of difference between “not being dead” and “being alive.” I owe this understanding to my parents.”

When sharing her story she credits the experience of growing up in a community of survivors as the inspiration for her life’s work of studying and teaching erotic intelligence.

“In the community of Holocaust concentration camp survivors in Antwerp, Belgium where I grew up, there were two groups: those who didn’t die, and those who came back to life. And those who didn’t die were people who lived tethered to the ground, afraid, untrusting. The world was dangerous, and pleasure was not an option. You cannot play, take risks, or be creative when you don’t have a minimum of safety, because you need a level of unself-consciousness to be able to experience excitement and pleasure. Those who came back to life were those who understood eroticism as an antidote to death.”

Esther has dedicated her life to connecting people back to that vital life energy that healed her parents and many others.

 

Learning how to reframe our own stories is the key to making kintsugi in our lives. It’s the ability to see “trash” as “treasure” in every type of situation. As Esther says about infidelity, it’s the ability to “turn a crisis into an opportunity.”

With guides like Esther Perel, reframing the “broken” stories of our lives in order to make kintsugi is something we can all learn to do.