Esther Adler’s book, Breaking the Chains to Freedom: Finding the Power within You, is part memoir, part self-help, which focuses on how to switch from victim mentality to a spiritual warrior mindset. Adler is a bright spirit born into a strict Orthodox Jewish family and culture filled with rules, restrictions, and guilt-and lots of each, which makes her more than the “black sheep” in the family. She was also born into a family with a father who has a genius I.Q. along with Borderline Paranoid Schizophrenia, and a mother who had a joyful spirit despite a physically incapacitated body and her own victim mentality, and whom Adler became primary caregiver of at age eight.
Adler describes growing up with a mother couldn’t take care of herself without assistance; a verbally and physically abusive father who tried to strangle her; a “religious” culture that refused to help her; the decline and death of her mother; being diagnosed with diabetes and the struggle to find a way to function with this disease; and a host of experiences that caused her to one day state to herself, “I don’t really want to die. I just don’t know how to live.” She reveals her transformation from practicing victim mentality to someone with a warrior mindset, which includes sharing how she was a wife at eighteen, with four children who arrived within a short few years; living with and eventually divorcing her verbally abusive husband (who, though Adler doesn’t state as such, at least seems to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, based on her descriptions of his behaviors); and having to find love, peace, and wisdom in the decision to let her children live with their father as a result of his religious smear campaign against her. Adler also includes inspirational notes and theories about human needs that lead to victim behaviors, as well as exercises and ideas to help shift from emotional pain to happiness and spiritual awakening that lead to personal freedom.
It’s pleasing to read something written by someone without degree letters after their name. That’s not a criticism: What I mean is that this book is a nice chance to relate to someone who is perceived as more like the man on the street than not, even if readers’ cultures are quite different. Adler demonstrates inner strength, character, and an indomitable, if not enviable, belief in herself, love, and life. I found that in the final sections, my yellow highlighter was used to note particular passages such as this one: “Showing no emotion is not an act of strength, but an act of fear. It’s a fear of being judged. Be judged. You will be judged in your life no matter what.”
Adler wrote this book for those who practice victim mentality or have experienced-or currently are experiencing-a major life transition (death of a loved one, loss of a significant relationship, loss of employment, loss of health, etc.), to help them move through and beyond the trauma such and similar experiences present. Although some pre-publishing polishing with editing tweaks would have been a good idea, such instances do not diminish how engaging her story is or how inspirational her message is. All in all, it’s a powerful read.
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe