My goal is to help you re-imagine your life and re-invent yourself. With my own extensive experience in turning my own life around and a vast history of success with many patients and clients, my individualized "mind changing" approach will help you achieve your goals. I will help you improve your self-esteem, identify changes you would like to make, create a plan of action and successfully implement it.
I have spent the past 40 years as a doctor specializing in chronic pain syndromes of the foot and ankle. My experience has taught me that so many people suffering with chronic pain feel stuck and victimized. My approach has been to empower them to change and not wait for the pain to go away first. Likewise, as a life coach, I help you make the changes needed so that the pain and frustration you are feeling subsides as your dream life takes over.
Committing to a healthier, happier lifestyle is just that – a commitment - and it’s a big one that will take a lot of dedication. My commitment is to provide you with accountability, understanding, tools to change your story and support you unconditionally.
Personal experience is sometimes the best teacher. Sometimes it's your worst enemy. My story was a very painful and difficult one until I realized I had the power to change my story. Here is my "old" story". It's not a short read but well worth the time!
My name is Dr. Robert Kornfeld. But please, call me Bob. I was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1954. I was raised by 2 narcissists who did not like being parents at all. Too much unconditional giving was required. That is next to impossible for a narcissist. My mother went back to work in 1959 when I was in kindergarten. She couldn't deal with being "just a housewife". There was never any outward shows of affection. My father never connected to me, never took me anywhere, never did anything with me. He was unable to be a role model for me. My mother despised the "stay at home" moms on the block, she wanted to be out in the world. Neither of them were ever around. The effects of not feeling cared about or disciplined have far-reaching effects. So I was out on the streets of Brooklyn with no supervision.
Without understanding my own psychology and my own experience of not feeling loved, I fell prey to the culture on the streets and began smoking pot at the age of 11 or 12. That eventually led to a more varied experience with drugs (pills, psychedelics, cocaine). And then it got worse. I had a lot of shame about what I was doing but did not know what to do about it. My home life was fractured and inconsistent and I never wanted anyone to know that my family was so dysfunctional.
I was painfully shy and insecure. I hated myself. I felt so "un-special" and unlovable. I often thought I would be better off dead. I went off to college in 1971 (at the age of 16, which should have informed me that at least I was quite smart) but dropped out after 2 weeks. I just wasn't interested in doing anything but drugs. I also loved music and starting taking drum lessons at 10 years old. I loved playing drums and loved being in bands. I had dreams of becoming a rock star. When I dropped out of college, I went home and rang the doorbell to my house. My father did not allow me back in the house. He put me in the car and drove me out to Long Island to a private university, enrolled me and left me there. My freshman year was a disaster and I dropped out again. I was lost, confused, insecure and addicted to using drugs as a way to numb my inner demons. And the shame forced me to keep it a secret from my friends. I went cross country that Summer and when I returned, I was really suffering in so many ways. I was medicating my pain and insecurity with whatever street drugs I could get.
In February of 1973, I went to a party and met a very pretty young girl. I was 18 and she was 17. It turned out that she was perfectly straight. Never did drugs at all. I latched onto her. I needed a life preserver. After seeing her for a few months, I was afraid that she was going to discover what I had been hiding and break up with me. That scared the shit out of me. So I locked myself in my room and spent 5 grueling and painful days detoxing. I had no idea that what I was doing was potentially dangerous, but I was committed to going straight and getting my life together now that I had someone who cared about me and showed it. I felt empowered because of her. Those 5 days nearly killed me. It was the worst horrific experience of my life. But I thought it would change my life for the better. Of course, in many ways it did, but what I didn't expect is that once I stopped doing drugs, I was going to go into a huge depression. I had no idea who I was without drugs. I couldn't relate to straight people. I did not know how to socialize without the drugs. In groups of strangers, I was quiet and withdrawn. My girlfriend and I began to fight a lot. I always blamed myself, coming from the family I had and the drugs I took. That hurt my self-esteem even more. The fights became very regular, but I was afraid to break up with her and for some reason, she wanted to stay with me.
I was motivated to make something of my life and decided I needed to go back to college. I wanted to remain a music and theater major as I was as a freshman, but my father said unless I became a doctor, he would not pay for college (my father was a podiatrist and really pushed me to become one as well). He also forced me to transfer to a state school so it wouldn't have to cost him so much. My girlfriend had been accepted to a college in Buffalo, N.Y., so I applied to a school across town from her and was accepted. Having this girlfriend that I was attached to and wanting to be someone worthy of keeping her, I went back as a biology major with the intent of becoming a doctor. It was NOT what I wanted, but it was the only way I could become "something", or at least believed so at the time.
My college experience was less than stellar socially. I spent every weekend with my girlfriend and went to classes and did schoolwork during the week. I had friends, but not many and did very little, if any, socializing during the week. All this while I continued to suffer low self-esteem, was painfully shy, struggled with socializing and hated myself. My parents were never people I could ever share anything with. If I had an issue with my father, instead of listening and responding, he would always say, "That's bullshit Bob" or "That's you're problem if you feel that way". My mother would say, "Just grow a thicker skin". Neither one of them were able to connect on an emotional level. We became further estranged.
After 5 years of dating and 2 breakups (one of which lead me back to abusing drugs but thankfully it was very short term), my girlfriend and I became engaged in 1977. I had been accepted and was already in podiatry school and was studying very hard to keep up my grades. In January of 1978, we were married. It was not a good union. Well before our first anniversary, we started having major problems. She wanted to go out every night with her friends. I had no idea where she was going or who she was going with. It just broke me as a man. We fought a lot. She would stay out late and blame it on the fact that I was always studying. I made a million excuses in my mind to stay married to her, the biggest of which was I did not want to go back to living with parents who were cold and removed. I did not feel love for them and did not feel loved by them.
I started going for psychotherapy because I believed I was the problem. That I wasn't enough. That someone needed to cure me of my insecurity and low self-esteem. That with the right therapy, I would be lovable. I committed myself to it fully.
After training, I went into practice in Brooklyn with my father. I know now that sub-consciously I was hoping for a relationship with him. What happened in reality was that he "used" me. He made many promises to me while I was still in training but when I finally went into the practice, it was a deeply disappointing experience. He made me see all the new patients. He stopped doing surgery and put that all in my hands. I had to do ALL the hospital rounds. I worked 6 days a week and 3 evenings. He paid me $200 a week. He told me that I "owed" him for raising me and that this was his way of making me "buy into the practice". He then would spend Thursday through Sunday with my mother at their vacation home in Connecticut. When in the office Monday through Wednesday, he spent most of the day on the phone with friends and seeing a handful of patients. It was completely inequitable and I began to resent him.
Finally, after 2 1/2 years in his practice, I became deeply stressed. We were expecting our first baby and I needed to make more money. I had enough of feeling used. I got up the nerve (which for me was extremely hard at the time) and told him that everything he promised me was just not happening. I confronted him with his empty promises. I told him I needed to make a lot more money. His answer floored me. He said, "How can I pay you more when your brother is barely making a living? Besides, the practice hasn't grown since you're here". Excuse me!!! Here I was busting my ass, working really hard, filling his pockets with money while he did literally no work at all and because my brother was a struggling architect making only $150 a week, I could not progress?
That night I went home shaking with rage. Even though I had been totally straight for years, I bought a bottle of rum and drank the entire thing. I was shitfaced and despondent. My wife encouraged me to leave my father and go out on my own. I recovered from my really bad hangover and empowered myself to leave. I began combing the NY Times for office space in Long Island. I found an office situation that felt good to me and told my father I was leaving. He was really angry with me. But I was resolute and committed to going out on my own. I was really tired of feeling like a victim.
A few months later, my beautiful daughter was born. But it wasn't a rosy pregnancy. There were signs and symptoms that my marriage was less than stellar and it added a lot of stress to my life. The stress of setting up a new practice, the stress of being married to someone who couldn't give me what I needed in a relationship and the overwhelming stress of my father's punishment (once I left his practice, every college and professional school loan was mailed to me. It was shocking because he had always told me he would take care of all of my college expenses). He told me, as my father, he felt it was his responsibility (as long as I became a doctor, of course). I was reeling from all of this. I was extremely anxious and depressed.
Because of all of this stress, I broke out with a rash on my face. It was red, flaky, itchy and ugly to look at. It made me feel like a freak. I was ashamed of it. I rubbed cortisone cream all over my face every day. I picked off the flakes. I tried to cover it with make-up. It consumed me. I would look at my face in the mirror every chance I could to "fix" the cosmetic appearance of it.
All this while I was still seeing a psychotherapist who I thought was going to help me. But that didn't seem to be happening. She was also seeing my wife as a client (conflict of interest) and also recommended we come together for marriage counseling. I was paying for 3 sessions per week to this therapist and insurance reimbursed nothing. And the more we went, the less things changed. My wife never seemed to have the best interests of the marriage in mind when we went to therapy. She would only blame me for everything. It was deeply unsatisfying, expensive and exhausting.
I also had issues with my brother (my only sibling) throughout my life. We never really had a great relationship. He never made me feel like I had a big brother. He used to try to make me feel bad by making fun of me and belittling me when we were kids. That really hurt my self-image and self-esteem. He and my father would join in and make fun of my "big ears", my "long arms", my "big nose". He was asocial, had no real friends and was a bit of a hermit. In spite of it, I still made him best man at my wedding, but he never did anything as the best man. Never made me a bachelor party. Months after I was married, he made a new friend at work. After knowing my brother only 2 or 3 months, he asked him to be his best man. My brother accepted, organized and threw him a bachelor party. I was crushed at the time.
While my wife was pregnant with my daughter, it became harder and harder for me to hang out with my brother (which I did every week because my parents continually would guilt me into it). He was clearly not dealing with his jealousy or his psychological issues (which we both had). I told him I was in therapy and that I believed it was going to help me deal with issues that I needed to deal with. I recommended it to him as well. Instead of hearing it as a loving, kind recommendation, in his mind he heard, "you're a wacko and you need a shrink". He didn't speak to me for over 20 years after that.
If this wasn't enough to deal with, it became ever more clear to me that my parents were not normal people. They came to visit my baby when she was a week old. My wife had been struggling to put her down and finally got her to sleep. My parents walked in and my mother began to walk toward the baby's room. My wife stopped her and said, "I finally got her to sleep. Please don't go in there. She'll be up soon enough". My mother got pissed. We didn't hear from my parents for 6 months. I felt deeply abandoned. More than I had ever felt in my life. Now I had been rejected by my entire immediate family.
My facial rash persisted. Sometimes it was so severe it looked like I had a sunburn. Then, at the age of 30, I woke up one morning and felt pressure in my head and dizziness. I thought it was some kind of weird virus. It lasted for 3 weeks and then went away. Unfortunately, it was replaced by intense feelings of anxiety, rapid heartbeat, sweating and feelings of impending doom. I went to my internist. He told me I had anxiety and prescribed 5 mg of Valium daily. What a huge mistake. Here I was, a former drug addict with a narcotics license of my own. I started taking only 5 mg daily, but that didn't handle the extreme symptoms I was having. So I started taking more and more. I became dependent on them (perhaps addicted). My entire world was crashing in on me and nothing and no one was helping me. I kept taking the Valium for over a year but realized it wasn't the answer. I became disgusted with myself and I weaned off them. The anxiety returned but I decided I was going to deal with it.
I convinced myself things would get better. I continued psychotherapy and marriage counseling, my wife continued her therapy, but nothing changed. My relationship with my parents went cold, I never heard from my brother, my marriage was painfully unsatisfying and difficult. I remained insecure, had low self-esteem, still suffered from anxiety and now began to get really bad tension headaches. My wife and I constantly fought. But there was never resolution to any of the fights. The only thing I had to feel proud about was my practice. I was doing very well in spite of all of my private suffering and by all accounts, had an income to be envied. But the inner demons were running my life.
We wound up having 2 more children. My sons added to the beauty of being a father which my daughter had already gifted me with. I was very proud of them, loved them unconditionally and we tried as best we could to be a happy family. But when they got a little older, they picked up on the fighting and the stress between my wife and I. So as beautiful as being a dad felt to me, it came with its own set of issues and challenges.
We eventually got into yoga (my wife became a yoga teacher), macrobiotics (vegan diet), weight lifting and aerobics. I would also go out on my bike every morning. I was in great shape and great health. The vegan diet definitely helped a lot in reducing my anxiety and resolving my facial rash. I began to feel a lot better about myself. It spilled into my practice where I spoke often to my patients about fitness and healthy eating. I took lots of courses for years and by 1995, had completely converted my practice to a holistic approach to healing chronic foot and ankle pain. Reinventing myself was an amazing experience. I was the only podiatrist in the country doing what I was doing (I believe I still am). Back in 1999, we attended a wedding and were seated next to a holistic internist. He and I hit it off and he invited me to come speak on his radio program. I said yes, but was really not sure I wanted to do it. As I said earlier, I was painfully shy and public speaking always made my heart race and my tongue go dry. But I thought since it's radio, no one would see that I was nervous.
I did a few shows with him and then the network offered me my own show. This was a great turning point for me. I was aware that things were changing for me. I was feeling more confident. I was helping lots of people (more now that I was doing a radio show) and I was looking really good. And then it dawned on me. The changes in me that were helping me feel so much better about myself were things that I HAD DONE, THAT I HAD ADDED TO MY LIFE. I began to get this amazing sense of power. If I could do things to make myself feel better, then there had to be other things I could do as well.
So I thought about my life, my childhood and all the things I went through. Looking back I saw that I was conditioned to hate myself, conditioned to be ashamed of myself, conditioned to feel unlovable, conditioned to feel replaceable. I had medicated those feelings with drugs. But it struck me. I was "CONDITIONED". And if that was the case, could I re-condition myself? Could I change the sub-conscious programming that for my entire life had plagued my reality and prevented me from feeling happy and fulfilled?
I dove into studying human behavior, sub-conscious programming and neuroscience. And it revealed itself to me. The answer was YES, if I could stick with the re-programming. Just like many things in life, change does not come quickly. But I didn't build my muscles overnight. It took consistency and repetition to get into great shape. I made lists of things I believed would have made me a stronger, more self-confident person had that been my experience growing up. And through trial and error and many failed attempts, I finally hit on the formula that started shifting my thinking. Ah, my thinking. It's true. Everything you tell yourself, your brain believes and it acts as if it's all true. My brain was loaded with negative thoughts. I needed to refocus my thoughts.
I began slowly re-programming my mind consistent and relentless affirmations. I viewed it as "exercise" for my brain. I was building a better me, one that I could feel good about. And low and behold, the anxiety vanished, the headaches disappeared and I felt a lot more centered and in control. I decided to host public speaking events about my practice. At first, I was a little nervous. But as I continued to re-program my mind, it became easier and easier. I spoke to the public. I lectured to doctors. I stood in rooms of hundreds of people with complete confidence. Now, I have no fear at all of getting up in front of hundreds of people and sharing my knowledge and experience. I have likely spoken publicly over 200 times. I have been interviewed live for numerous TV shows about health and well being. I have a lot to say and to share and I am committed to helping others on their journey. My personal work and my journey helped me to organize my thoughts, identify what I wanted to change about myself and enabled me to zero in on my goals. Once I had that clear in my mind, I was able to implement a plan, stick to it, and realize my dream life with gusto.
I eventually did get divorced. I was finally ready to attract a mutually satisfying and loving relationship into my life. I deserved it. I met an amazing woman who I have now been with for over 6 1/2 years and love with all my heart. I finally know what unconditional love is. She brings out the best in me, something I had never experienced before. I have been able to heal a lot in my relationships with my 3 children and continue to do so (I believe they are learning to see me as the person I am now and not the person I used to be). I love my medical practice, but for me it's now also about life coaching and my love for helping people to become secure, develop a path to their goals and see them gain control of their life experience, using the re-programming techniques I used on myself with awesome success. I am very happy, I love who I am, my self-esteem is very high, I don't care what others think of me, I have no shame about who I used to be which is why I feel completely fine about making it all public knowledge and all of my suffering is behind me. Best of all, I got back into my music. I have written songs that were professionally produced and I am now in an amazing blues band that brings me consistent and utter joy. I truly believe that anyone with a commitment to change, can change. It's not random. If I could do it, anyone can do it. None of us are victims with no way out. With intent, success follows. Let me help you change YOUR story!