When Fear Rules !

Picking Healthy Friends

by on Jul.18, 2019, under Uncategorized

Picking Healthy Friends

Recently I received an e-mailed progress report from a client of mine who is waging a battle to build her self-esteem against a very formidable enemy, herself. Yes, it should not be a surprise to anyone reading this that the one  most viral force that interferes with creating self-confidence and esteem is the grey matter between your ears. 

The way we think and feel determines what steps we consider taking to challenge our fears and to take any steps outside the comfort zone. Too many of us learn to avoid, to settle, to begin to establish early in our lives a pattern of behavior that sabotages personal growth anywhere near our full potential. 

Just ask yourself, how many things have you thought about doing, experiencing, or exploring, and how many of those items can you honestly say you have taken steps to stretch and accomplish?

What has this to do with picking healthy friends ?

Most of my readers, from or Blogs at www.RuledByFear.com are suffering from one degree or another of anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia, obsessive worry or compulsive behaviors, and it turns out are MUCH TOO DEPENDENT on what they “PERCEIVE” that other people think and feel about them to feel good about themselves. As a group we are very caring, adapting, sensitive personalities who need approval …which too often means that our personal growth, and therefore our self-esteem is dependent on the feedback we perceive from family and friends, bosses and co-workers, peers and even strangers.

Just to stimulate your thinking regarding this issue, make a list of all your friends and family members. Rank that list from LEAST to MOST important in your life. 

Now, take one step towards stretching or reaching towards a goal that you would like to accomplish. Now, this step should be reasonable, one that you can feel yourself resisting, but not totally overwhelmed by. After taking that step, make contact with as many of the individuals on your list that you can. This will be a challenge in itself as it will be easy to avoid. But, in hopes that you will carry out this assignment, I want you to share with each person you contact that you have stretched to accomplish something you have been avoiding, and that you wanted to share with them because they are a friend. Then, make notes on the response you receive ! 

Does the person you contact appear to enjoy the discussion and reinforce and applaud your efforts ?

Does the person seem to be too busy or uncomfortable and appears to dismiss the issue, or detour to another issue ?

Or does the person quickly turn the discussion around to be about THEM ?

In other words, I want you to evaluate the nature of your friendships. In order to make changes in your life, especially when it means challenging your fears and stretching out side the comfort zone you, like most of us has created, you NEED SUPPORT. 

We are not talking about needing their approval for every step you make, but surrounding yourself with people who are of like minds who can offer appropriate support. 

Some of our so-called friends are just too uncomfortable to discuss emotional laden issues. Some are too selfish to expend energy on anyone other than themselves. Then there are those who are threatened by the efforts to grow on the part of another as it brings up the uncomfortable feelings of what they should be changing in their lives.

Time to explore the health of your support system, and determine in whom you wish to invest your emotional energy. You want your personal growth to be about sharing your growth and supporting the growth of your friends. The more you can LIVE the changes you wish to make, by interacting with others and supporting each others growth, the more successful you will be.

Coach

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/Retired

RuledbyFear.com

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Feeling Out of Control

by on May.11, 2019, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Sheila had not driven on a freeway in twenty-five years, although she had never been in a major accident. Her anxiety and fear of having a panic attack had seriously limited her options and choices for both a social life and a more desireable career as she was always searching for alternate roads to travel.

Chuck was so caught up with his obsessions over germs that it all but paralyzed him from doing anything to pursue his desire for a meaningful relationship or a more challenging career. How could he even think about making changes in his life with all these anxiety -driven fears dominating his thoughts ? What girl would give him a second look when she realized his life was ruled by these fears of contamination ?

Rick was a productive guy with a potentially awesome career, but his anxiety and compulsive rituals of checking everything from doors being locked to “repeatedly” searching for errors in his work had negatively effected his performance to the point that his job was now in jeopardy.

Patricia loved her job, but all of a sudden her ability to travel was threatened by these panic attacks that came out of nowhere !

So, if you have ever experienced panic attacks or the companion symptoms of obsessive-intrusive thoughts or compulsive behaviors, I do not have to tell you how overwhelming these symptoms can become and how much they can effect your life. Panic attacks, which often seem to come from ” out of the blue “, can quickly become an all consuming and draining experience as they leave one feeling such a very real sense of being out of control.

What could be the reason or a source for these life-altering symptoms ? Not wishing to over-simplify, but to at least get you thinking about why this might happen, I would offer the following points for you to consider. One of the common elements with each of the examples I offered above is the issue of being an adapting personality type. In my opinion, being an adapting person, one who is aware of and sensitive to the reactions, thoughts and feelings of others around them, is a gift but can feel like a curse. While being aware and sensitive is a characteristic that could enhance one’s personal life and career, depending on the depths one has “learned” to bend and adapt to please others, one can lose their sense of self because of their dependency on approval and acceptance. In too many situations, there are many of us who have “learned” to depend too much on the approval of others to measure their personal worth and value, and their sense of identity.

Dependency breeds a sense of doubt in oneself. What do I really want to do with my life ? Am I pursuing what I want, or putting all my energy into what I think people expect me to do ? Do I just settle, and stay below the radar, or do I challenge myself even when others say I should be happy with what I have now, so don’t rock the boat ?

Do I stretch and put more energy into being there for others while ignoring or seldom expressing my own needs ? Do I conform to the “shoulds” or do I experiment with potential options in my life ? Do I avoid conflict at all cost ? Do I push myself to prove my worth and value but hesitate to reward myself for a job well-done ?

If you have experienced panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive symptoms, please just consider that there are most often, in my humble opinion, reasons why this is happening to you. You may need to feel more in control of your life, which, if lacking, may cause you to experience panic and OCD which creates a more immediate sense of loss of control and at the same time may distract you from what is really going on.


Gene Benedetto, Psychologist /Retired

The Benhaven Group, LLC
Blog : www.RuledByFear.com
http://www.facebook.com/groups/ruledbyfear

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Broken Merry Go Round

by on Apr.10, 2019, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

While taking my puppy Izzy on a ride through the park this morning, I found myself intently listening to the lyrics of a song, ” Merry Go Round ” , by singer Kacey Musgraves…

” Mary Mary quite contrary,We get bored so we get married. And just like dust we settle in this town. On this broken merry go ’round and ’round and ’round we go, Where it stops nobody knows…And it ain’t slowin’ down, this merry go ’round…

We think the first time’s good enough,So we hold on to high school love,Say we won’t end up like our parents.

Tiny little boxes in a row, Ain’t what you want it’s what you know, Just happy in the shoes you’re wearin’.”

I had been thinking all week about a few clients who, despite some significant efforts on their parts to escape their past sabotaging thoughts and self-limiting perceptions of themselves, seemed to be stuck on that Merry Go Round, where any real change in their lives was thwarted by their negative self-talk, reinforced by fear.

One man in particular had made some very real efforts to change, to escape his boring life and take some risks. He actually quit his go nowhere job, and went back to school to seek at least an associates degree in alternative energies, something he felt some passion about. He actually did quite well, not only excelling in his classes, but being recognized by fellow students who requested tutoring from him, and then being recognized by a professor as being an exceptional student. Of course seemed proud at the time of what he accomplished and the accolades.

The anxiety symptoms and especially his rather severe obsessive-compulsiuve behaviors that had previously been ruling much of his life began to weaken some. He was surprised and I was extremelypleased at his progress. I knew much of his OCD was the result of his frustrations and conflicts with himself, so I did expect some decrease in his symptoms.

After two semesters, he had to return to work to pay bills, hoping to return to school in the near future. Sadly, within two months of being  back at work and away from school, all his anxiety symptoms returned and his OCD was wreaking havoc. He was again stuck on the Merry Go Round of his previous life, going nowhere and being ruled by his  self-defeating negative thoughts.

As we talked about his loss of momentum, he struggled a bit to explain his thoughts and feelings, but then he uttered  an illuminating comment. ” I Never Embraced the Changes I was Making !”

Over those two semesters, he did experience what felt very new and different. He did “witness” that he was actually knowledgable, and was in fact able to help other students. But the whole time, it was like he was another person in some make believe world. He never really accepted, adopted, or presumed to be that person. Those two semesters were no match for his previous lifetime of ” that’s good enough”, “don’t make waves “, ” just be content with what you have and who you are “. ” I realize now that I dumbed-down my good experiences so as not to rock the boat.” So even though his boat was going nowhere, the risk and fear of failure, rejection and embarrassment over-ruled his good experiences, all but erasing them from memory.

The bright side of this story is that there is a good chance that this young man can still get off the Merry Go Round. Since together we are not allowing him to forget what he actually did achieve, and armed with the realization that it takes continued, persistent,repeated experiences to break free of the ” gravitational pull ” of his past, he can plan his next steps to more effectively project himself into the world of his potential.

He can change, by taking steps, one at a time, but not allowing dust to settle on his efforts.You cannot take breaks from your efforts at personal growth. You must become ” obsessed ”  with that growth to truly get off that Merry Go Round of the past, and never give into the urge to avoid. You must be ready to talk out loud about steps you are taking to grow. You must share your experiences with all who will listen, and not be detoured by non-believers. You must actively build a support system of like people. I believe this man will make it if he has the needed support and knowledge of how real change is accomplished.

“Tiny little boxes in a row, Ain’t what you want it’s what you know, Just happy in the shoes you’re wearing’.”

How about you ?

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/ Retired

WhenFearRules.com

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Negative Thoughts…So Destructive !

by on Mar.31, 2019, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

They often hit in the middle of the night, or just as you are waking up. This is the time when your more conscious mind is asleep on the job of helping you rationalize your way through life.They are like worms that burrow their way through your mind, and each time you allow them to go on and on, they run deeper. They leave a slime in your thought patterns, so then the next time, maybe the next night, the negative and self deprecating thoughts come into your dreams faster and run deeper, eroding your self-esteem.

They often hit when there is an emotional conflict in your life that you are ignoring or avoiding, when you are not dealing with an issue at work or in your personal life that you know you should. You may be going through a health crisis that needs to be addressed and not ignored.

Avoidance of issues in one’s life is a common occurrence. It can bring temporary calm on the surface when you put off dealing with some pervasive issue. But you cannot escape, and should not. As quick as the thoughts are recognized, you must identify the issue. Sometimes you need to get out of bed and wake up the conscious mind for just a few minutes. It is worth it, because you will not get a restful sleep if you ignore the issues.

You must put the brakes on and affirm that you will take steps to deal with that issue, and then upon arising from your not so restful slumber, do just that. Say, ” I know what the issue is, now I have to create steps to deal with it.” Not all at once, if it is complicated, but create steps and take them one at a time so you can honestly say you are doing what you can to deal with instead of avoid.That is what is called taking control. Making a plan.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/ Retired
The Benhaven Group
www.RuledByFear.com

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It is what it is, so deal with it….OR…Look at my options.

by on Mar.31, 2019, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

I speak with many people who are experiencing some very real challenges in their lives that they could allow to be all consuming or devastating.

A writer who develops Parkinsons Disease.

A therapist who has a stroke and cannot speak.

A surgeon who survives a plane crash, but as a result, he or she does not regain full use of his hands.

A Tool and Die maker who cannot stand any longer and lost use of his dominant arm.

While these can really be traumatic and life changing events, in some cases the individuals have options to use their talents and skills in some other way, rather than just accept that their life is over.

We all have potentially valuable skills that may not have been tapped.

The writer above can learn to dictate his or her words instead of become tragically frustrated by the physical inability to write or type.

The therapist can create a Blog to reach out to others and share the gifts he has to offer as a therapist.

The Surgeon, even if actual surgery is out of the question, can teach at a medical school.

The tool and die maker can make creative adjustments with his tools and make baby cribs for the baby dolls for kids at some of the most prestigious children’s hospitals .

I have seen each of the above situations with my own eyes and have witnessed a miraculous re-energizing take place with some clients I have had the pleasure of working with over the years.

We all need to explore our gifts, or in some cases re-explore talents that we have abandoned in the past for whatever reason, and focus that energy on bringing worth and value back into our lives, and the lives of others.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist / Retired
The Benhaven Group

RuledByFear.com

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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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