When Fear Rules !

Do You Know WHY you are having Panic Attacks ?

by on Dec.14, 2018, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

The majority of my clients over the years have been people experiencing severe anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia, obsessive thoughts and worry and compulsive behavior.

Since I personally experienced those symptoms at an earlier point in my life, but do not any longer, I especially enjoy helping individuals find the source of their symptoms and taking control of their anxiety.

I enjoyed a high rate of success with these clients because I knew what to look for.

Of course, first, we together needed to eliminate any physical or medical reasons for the panic or anxiety symptoms, such as thyroid or other chemical factors, but honestly, we rarely found a physical source, although your body chemistry may make the symptoms worse.

Then we would obviously look at any serious traumas or crises that were going on in their lives and develop a plan to deal with those. If they had experienced a traumatic car accident

But the vast majority of my clients had no traumas to speak, at least not what they would call traumas.

I was not surprised ! Then we talked about emotional conflicts, either with a family member, a spouse or someone they had formed an emotional attachment, a boss or neighbor with whom they were experiencing inner conflict, but were ” avoiding “. Ah, then the emotions came out. It’s should be no big surprise that personal emotional conflicts that we are avoiding can cause inner turmoil, and the avoidance of issues causes us to feel out of control…and those conflicts can trigger panic.

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Those Nagging Thoughts

by on Nov.15, 2018, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Have you ever felt frustrated with nagging private thoughts because you have avoided doing things in your life that you always told yourself you would…only to put them off again and again ?

Have you always imagined speaking up for yourself but mostly go along to avoid conflict, only to feel anger within yourself for being weak ?

Do you pride yourself on always being there for others but feel that those whom you put energy into seldom seem to think that you have needs too ? Maybe it is because you dare not express those needs for fear of appearing needy !

Do you find your thoughts at times drifting back to earlier years when you made a few bad choices, and maybe when you find yourself contemplating some change or challenge in your life, those thoughts seem to appear to come to the surface more often and with more intensity as if to shut down any chance of moving forward ?

Do you find yourself dwelling and obsessing over issues and situations that seem irrational, so foolish, but seem to take control at times ?

Are there times when you feel the need to carry out some ritual like checking, doing things the same way all the time, or needing to repeat certain behaviors before you can move to something else ? Does the obsessing or the rituals seem to be interfering with you moving on in your life ?

Maybe this is happening due to anxiety and conflicts in your life. Maybe fear of failure, rejection or embarassment is a factor behind that anxiety or those conflicts. You and I have a choice, an option to really understand the forces of fear in our lives, and to create a game plan to face our fears and take control of our personal growth rather than avoid challenges and change so as to not nurture fear !

A large percentage of good people in our society experience significant anxiety, panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive behaviors that all but rule their lives, holding them hostage to their thoughts and symptoms. They avoid doing things outside their limited comfort zone due to their fear of having more anxiety symptoms. The very aware individuals may see that whenever they allow themselves to dare think of moving forward in their lives, the panic attacks become more intense or the intrusive thoughts grow louder.

As a recent client put it to me, ” I have had a few successful experiences, and they felt good, but then I so easily fell back into my old way of seeing myself as weak, and then feel no motivation to stretch, to grow, to challenge. I want to better my life. I have frequent thoughts of doing more, but then I turn around only to see I am still in the same place I was before, comfortably-uncomfortable.”

In my mind, it is all about fear, and the choices we make, or do not make, which is of course, a choice !

It is a very uncomfortable issue to face, but realizing the degree to which our lives can be ruled by fear is the first step. We can blame our genetics,our environment and experiences of childhood, or other traumas, yet the stories of individuals rising above their handicaps, trials and tribulations, to attain great personal growth and sense of purpose always catch our attention and inspire, if only for a few minutes. However, isn’t fear mostly learned ? So why do some find themselves overcoming their fears to achieve, while so many others give in or use their anxiety symptoms as an excuse ?

I was discussing this with a fourteen year old girl who I am so proud to know, and who never ceases to amaze me with her ability to adapt and overcome, including at one point being homeless by herself on the streets at the tender age of ten, and being physically and sexually abused more times that I can even talk about without still choking-up. Yet just recently, she expressed how very happy she is now and what a wonderful Christmas she had with her new family. At one point she could imagine no future, expecting to die on the streets as every day was an exercise in survival. When on the streets, there was no time to give into fear because it was all about survival. Each day she had to choose to do whatever it took to survive, to find food, to find a safe place to sleep. Whether it was hiding in the library until after closing so she could sleep among the less-used rows of reference books that night, or finding a refrigerator box behind Home Depot that she could drag to some alley and use for that night’s shelter from the cold, she was strong and feisty because she had to be ! She made choices because there was no one to make them for her ! She spoke her mind because if she didn’t, she would be perceived as weak and she would not make it through the night. She did not have the option to avoid, and she knew that being personally strong was the only way.

So she could not be spoiled. She could not allow herself to be pampered, or become dependent. She did not have the option to be comfortable. If she screwed up, she took on the responsibility to admit to it, if only to herself, and then to learn from that experience.

And most importantly, she had a plan. She was going to somehow get an education, and get off the streets. That plan was her focus, and every step of that plan gave her more strength to take the next step. She never gave up her faith in God, did not blame God or mankind for her trials, and knew it was and is about having faith in yourself that comes from DOING what makes you stronger, not avoiding.

What is your plan ?

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/Retired
Blogger: WhenFearRules.com RuledByFear.com
The Benhaven Group

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Pathetically Apathetic

by on Nov.06, 2018, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, Bullying, STOPPING ABUSE

” Science may have found a cure for many evils; but it has not found the remedy for the worst of them all, the apathy of human beings. ”
Helen Keller

It saddens me to see how apathetic we have become as a nation. In many cases we have lost our will to speak our minds, let alone think for ourselves.

We avoid dealing with issues or intervening when our consciences tell us something is wrong. We are increasingly afraid to express opinions that might be divergent from what is “politically correct”, and we fear rejection, embarrassment, possible ridicule. What has happened to us ?

_________________________________________________________________________

apathy – definition of apathy by the Free Online Dictionary …
www.thefreedictionary.com/apathy
Lack of interest or concern, especially regarding matters of general importance or appeal; indifference. 2. Lack of emotion or feeling; impassiveness.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Crises, like wars or natural disasters tend to galvanize a people as a common threat is felt and we experience a need to join forces. Look at the recent tornados in Oklahoma and how quickly many from neighboring states came to help their fellow citizens in need.

However, when the crisis is more subtle, not in your face, we have the ability to rationalize and justify it away, to procrastinate and ignore until it is too late.

A person might not want to see an evolving crisis in a marriage, avoiding talking about problems that he or she knows exists, allowing the relationship to wither and die.

An individual may feel trapped in a job that is unfullfilling, even though there are options to make changes, retrain or retool, because he lacks faith and trust in himself to do any better. Apathy takes hold as the person allows his or her fears to rule their life.

And now as we enter an era of big government, dependency is being rewarded, replacing the want to challenge ourselves to greater levels of achievement. The people being sucked into this mental abyss will one day realize that they have given up their freedom and motivation to excel , their desire to see and be all they can be.

Instead, they will be dependent, becoming weaker, with minimal self-pride for being on the dole. Oh, they will eventually see the light, but only when they realize that the Great Ones who promised them whatever they wanted did so only to gain more power and control for themselves. That awareness will be certainly painful, and they will be angry for being duped, but angrier with themselves for allowing it to happen. Power does corrupt, it is just a matter of time.

Such is the cycle of civilizations.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/ Retired
Blog : www.RuledByFear.com
http://www.facebook.com/groups/ruledbyfear

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Anxiety and Depression After Surgery

by on May.08, 2018, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

I will be devoting more time to this Blog, “When Fear Rules “ , in the coming days and I have so much to share with you after what I have learned about anxiety and depression not only professionally, but personally.

I went through unexpected surgery last July to remove a benign tumor on the brain, and it left me partially paralyzed on the right side of my body, so that I have had to learn to walk all over again. What a trip !!! I experienced amnesia, loss of some ability to talk, and mostly anxiety and bouts of depression as a result of both medication side-effects and fear of the unknown. All is good now, but still in PT to strengthen the ability to walk.

I thought of all my clients as I went through physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy, and I found myself using all the techniques I taught them when they went through crises. It helped me a great deal and I have learned from personal experience how to get past the negative, sabotaging self talk that can dominate the mind if one allows it to. I will share more in future articles, but it is sure good to be back !!!

I will now be devoting my time to blogging and writing the two books I promised myself I would complete when “ I had the time”. Well, now I have the time since I retired and sold my Counseling practice after 42 years. So a Blogger and Writer I have become ! It’s about staying focused and having a purpose !

Coach
The Benhaven Group, LLC

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LearnHowToBecome

by on May.08, 2018, under Uncategorized

The guide was created to inspire people to get involved––both professionally and as volunteers––in supporting people with mental health concerns and to become powerful advocates for this severely under-resourced area of global concern. It includes information on common mental health issues and how people in local communities can get involved. It also has apps and other resources to help those battling mental health issues.

You can see the guide here:

Mental Health Career

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Why Are Some More Vulnerable to Anxiety

by on Jan.25, 2018, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

 Webster defines Vulnerable as : capable of being physically or emotionally wounded; open to attack or damage.  

 In my professional experience, being vulnerable and the extent of that vulnerability is what makes many of us more susceptible to anxiety symptoms, whether in the form of panic attacks, obsessive worry, agoraphobia or compulsive behaviors.  

If you choose to believe that everyone who experiences significant anxiety has chemical imbalances, that is your choice, and maybe that takes some pressure off thinking there is nothing you can do but live with it.   But, in MY reality as a Psychologist, the majority of us experience these symptoms because we have subconsciously or knowingly placed ourselves in situations in our lives that have made us vulnerable, by doing things or avoiding experiences that would make us less vulnerable.  

What if it is  our THOUGHTS that trigger chemical reactions which then trigger symptoms.  Our thoughts, which are the result of years of thinking and feeling negatively and never learning to deal with people and issues more effectively may be the problem.

Now of course, all of us were developing our way of looking at the world and dealing with that world from infancy on-ward. So, our perceptions of the world, the good and the bad, were developing even before we had reached the ability to REASON.  We were experiencing fear and how to protect ourselves or avoid even before we knew what those terms meant. Many of us developed a dependency on APPROVAL, possibly becoming Caregiver, Conforming, Peacekeeper or Perfectionistic personalities well before the age of six or seven.  Have you ever noticed that the more logical, analytic personality types suffer less anxiety symptoms ? They derive more of their sense of worth and value from what they DO, and need less approval directly from the mouths of others. Just a thought !  

Unfortunately, for those of us who developed a dependency on approval and a want to avoid rejection and disapproval, needing approval is often a key issue in making us vulnerable to conflict and anxiety. Look at your life ! There are many good things about you, but your dependency on approval is not one of them.

Now, IT IS OK TO WANT APPROVAL ! But the degree to which you have avoided expressing your thoughts and  feelings, not taken a chance to try something different, not attempting to take the ” road less travelled ” for fear of upsetting someone or possibly failing, are signs of dependency. Every time you avoid someone or some issue for fear of failure or rejection, you place yourself in a vulnerable place.  

The more you avoid, the more you psychologically beat yourself up. Your self image comes from what you perceive you have done with your life. Avoidance is toxic to self esteem.  This creates emotional conflict.

We CAN do something about being vulnerable ! We can at any time we so desire, begin to take steps to explore where and when we avoid people and issues.

We can look hard at the opportunities we secretly wish we had attempted to try on for size.

We can look at talents and interests we never allowed ourselves to expand upon because we never gave ourselves time.

 We can look at people that we never expressed ourselves to because we chose to avoid conflict.  

We can make a serious effort to  explore issues of avoidance.  Set goals for yourself to face people or deal with issues you would normally avoid. Take that course you put off. Expand your skills at you job so you are not as vulnerable when it comes to finding another job.  

We can take steps to deal with some of the difficult people in our life, but small and frequent steps or bites. The FREQUENCY with which you challenge yourself and your self-imposed limits and boundaries allows you to experience feelings of growth and pride, and with repetition,something changes. Then, gradually increasing the magnitude of these changes,taking little bigger bites and then increasing the frequency of those successes lets the confidence build.  

When dealing with friends, make sure you find a balance by asking them for things instead of you always doing for them.   Even with your kids, stick to your guns when it comes to discipline. Make them face consequences instead of being afraid they will not love you. Otherwise, again, you are vulnerable to their games.  

You need to remember that although you may share many genetic connections with your parents, you are NOT limited or restricted in your life because of anything they have done or not done with their lives.   

The acorn CAN fall as far from the tree as you allow it to.   We learn much from our parents. But if you have the sense and awareness to know that some of the things they did were wrong, then you have every opportunity to make sure your life does not go that way.  

Sometimes we become angry with ourselves because we see that we are giving in to that notion that we are destined to follow in the footsteps of “sick” parents. Maybe we perceive that to be true because we lack faith in ourselves. But the reality is, that the only ones that can really screw up our lives is US. Some people should never have been parents. But if you are unfortunate enough to have experienced unhealthy parents, rejoice, as you have learned what NOT to do.  

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist, Coach
The Benhaven Group

Blog: RuledByFear.com
www.RuledByFear.com
 

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They walk among us, the Sociopaths.

by on Dec.29, 2017, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, Bullying, STOPPING ABUSE

It was said by Mark Twain that “ Truth is stranger than fiction !” In my line of work as a therapist, I have never been able to desensitize to the fact that when you are dealing with human beings, the truth is often more painful, destructive and bone chilling than fiction, yet at the same time ignored, denied to oneself and rationalized as, “ No, that could not happen !

Truth is real, and although often ignored at our own peril, there are consequences for when it is not dealt with openly and upfront.

Now, as a Psychologist for some forty-two years, I have specialized in dealing with severe anxiety, panic attacks, phobias and agoraphobia with some real success. But, the use of medications to extinguish the anxiety, in most cases, was only putting salve on the wounds, not fixing the causes or source for the anxiety. I was never satisfied with this, so for those not wanting a temporary fix, but a successful treatment to find and eliminate the source, I had much success. I will stress that at least fifty percent only wanted the medications, and would find themselves getting worse over the years.

Having had panic attacks when I was younger, and working through the causal factors, gave me a heads up to help others, but it was still a challenge.

One thing I learned, and this is an over-simpllification, is that most of the anxiety that was experienced by my clients was due to conflicts or issues in their life that they were avoiding, for fear of failure, rejection, ridicule for shame. They had learned, mostly since childhood, to avoid conflict. Most of them had at least one person in their life that they just could not please, and that list of persons grew as they went through life. They were addicted to pleasing, adapting to fit in, and conforming to seek approval. They were already setting themselves up for conflict.

It is my impression that at least a third of the population are caregivers, conformers or a subtype of perfectionists who fit into this group of adapting personalities. The rest are either so focused on success and are less emotional so they do not need approval, get their dose of approval from what they do, or have less empathy and less a realization as to how things they say or do effect others so that they experience less anxiety and conflict.

Then there are the Sociopaths who take this lack of emotional need for approval, to another extreme. These manipulative, often very successful, charming personalities have the natural characteristic to look for other’s weaknesses and use them for their own advanatage…..

This is a true story, of Maggie, a wonderful, bright but adapting and caring personality and her battle to deal with manipulative people, one being a sociopath, and her struggles to find her way. It is a sad story, but a true story. It was the most challenging and tragic story, with only saving grace being that she wanted it to be THE story that would save others.

I was not her therapist, but took on the role of a Coach, because she came to me through a website and chat room I offered every Sunday evening. The goal of this service was to reinforce skills that I taught to my clients, but also to find a source of therapy for each person that was not able to be seen personally by me for face to face therapy. I never met Maggie, but talked with her on the phone and we communicated by writing. I came to know her very well.

It has taken me six years to be able to write this book, but I promised her I would do so in her name and to hopefully prevent at least one other person from falling deeper into the grips of a sociopath.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “ I do not know any sociopaths !” My response is that you most likely have such a personality within your extended family, friends, colleagues and do not realize it. Charming for sure, but if you dare explore most closely, they are selfish, say what you want to hear, but do what they want without a hint of care for how it effects you. They are specialists at manipulation. They use awareness of what you might be sensitive about, mistakes you have made, to have leverage and use the tools of blame, shame or guilt to have control over others.

I can say that at this moment, I know of mothers and fathers who are sociopaths, High School Principals who are sociopaths, parish priests who are sociopaths and therapists who are sociopaths. These are real people, who can entrench themselves into your life as they have my clients. To be armed to protect yourself from their manipulative ways, you need to know they exist and set strong boundaries while at the same time finding healthy ways to meet your emotional needs.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
The Benhaven Group

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Needing a Sense of Pupose !

by on Dec.24, 2017, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

I have previously held the belief that people, by nature, want to feel a sense of worth and value to their lives, not just exist, or be dependent. Further, I always believed that people thrive when they have goals, feel they are doing something meaningful and purposeful on a day to day basis. Don’t people feel a little “high” when the have stretched and conquered an issue, problem or challenge ?

I guess I still believe all that, because, everyday in my work as a therapist, I see that most of the clients who are experiencing anxiety or depression report that they feel stuck or trapped in their lives. They often begrudgingly report that they have given in to their fears of failure and rejection and have become complacent. Further, they painfully admit to themselves that they have avoided change, options to grow and stretch.The slippery slope of avoidance can take a person down to the point that he or she cannot see any chance of digging their way out. Avoidance warps our sense of self, diminishes our self-esteem which further limits our ability to change and grow.

How many mornings do you wake up excited about what you are planning to do that day ? When was the last time you felt you were doing something really meaningful in your life ? Do you have goals at work that get your adrenalin pumping ? Do you feel a passion in your life ? Do you feel your relationship with your spouse and kids is where you want it to be ?

You cannot truly avoid the reality of avoidance in your life ! You may deny it to others, but you know. It haunts you in your private moments.

When I sit with most of my clents, what I see behind the cloudiness of their symptoms is often the reality, that somewhere along their life, they lost their sense of purpose.

Out of fear of failure or rejection, or due to the erosion of self-esteem that comes from avoiding challenges to their personal growth, they often do not consciously realize that they have lost a sense of meaning to their lives. They are just so focused on how they feel, which is either anxious or depressed, that they are unaware that much of what they feel is a result of the complacency that has crept into their lives, the lack of intimacy they are experiencing, the lack of involvement in anything truly special for which they could feel passionate.

So, ask yourself, when was the last time you felt passionate about anything special going on in your life ? It is never too late to embrace change !

Yes, I know change can be scary at times. But when you set a reasonable goal to face something or someone you have avoided, and then create a hierarchy of steps to approach that person or issue, each step can help to motivate the next step to be taken.
Nose of
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist / Coach

www.RuledByFear.com

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Bullying…All I did was try to protect my daughter !

by on Dec.14, 2017, under Bullying

I am currently seeing a client, and adult male, whose daughter was being bullied over a period of three months, at the private school she was attending. The father, let’s call him Bob, was terribly upset that this was going on as he was paying out the nose for his daughter to attend this well known school, and expected that she would not be subject to bullying there. Financially, this was a burden for him, but he has two daughters that he hoped to protect from such issues.

Recently, the bullying reached a more intense and therefore tragic level when his daughter was being hazed at an assembly at school and in the hallways. They were calling her names and saying terribly embarrassing things to her , and she was visibly shaken and shared with her parents that this was happening, and that she was experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts. Bob, no stranger to anxiety and depression, and loving his daughters more than himself, was beside himself.

Although most adolescents going through this do not share with their parents, and often become victims to suicide, this is a very loving and close family, so they knew there was something going on, and she knew that her parents would not blame her for doing something to bring this on.
The parents immediately set up therapy for the daughter, and Bob went to the school and talked to the Assistant Principal who said he would take care of it. He did not deal with it, for whatever reason. Whether
the administrator was insensitive to to issue of bullying, or maybe was anxious about talking to the parents of these students, some of whom were highly influential in the community, or possibly major contributors to the school, I don’t know yet.

The next day or two, nothing was done, but the Assistant Principal approached Bob’s daughter in the hallway at school in front of other students, asking whether she had anything to do with vandalizing one of the bullying student’s car. It was proven that it was not her, but she was further embarrassed by being accused in a very public place, instead of privately in the administrator’s office. What is wrong with this picture ????

Not getting the help he was expecting from the administration, he went back after work one day to see if he could catch up with the administrator and reinforce how serious this was for his daughter. He did not find him around, but in walking by the gym, he saw the group of upper class students that had bullied his daughter.

He was upset that they had potentially put his daughter’s life at risk with their bullying, and so he could not pass up the opportunity to go up to this group and “warn” them to leave his daughter alone. Admittedly, he used some very colorful language to make his point, but when he was done, one of the students, a male, came up to Bob and admitted he was part of the group that bullied his daughter, apologized and reached out to shake Bob’s hand. Bob accepted, and in that moment, that is all Bob wanted is for the students to know that words hurt, and he just wanted it to stop.
Even Bob admitted that the bullying stopped according to his daughter after he made his points with the students.

Now Bob is preparing for court since the parents of these bullies pressed ‘menacing’ charges against Bob.They are calling him a bully, when their sons and daughters were bullying his daughter. He is sick about it and was having panic attacks. “All I did was try to protect my daughter when the authorities failed us.”

What do you think about this ???

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
The Benhaven Group

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Any Questions about Anxiety, Panic, OCD or agoraphobia ?

by on Dec.06, 2017, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Dear Readers,

After reading some of the many articles I have provided to you here at Ruled By Fear, I am requesting that if you have any questions, just ask.

I know how painful it is to be limited by fear and anxiety, whatever shape it takes on in your life. I would like to jump start the process of helping you to take greater control of your life.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
The Benhaven Group, LLC

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