When Fear Rules !

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LOVED TO DEATH

by on Nov.28, 2020, under Uncategorized

It Takes Awareness, Personal Strength and a Courageous Support Team to Take on a Sociopath : Meagan’s True Story

GENE BENEDETTO, PSYCHOLOGIST/ EMERITUS

Benhaven Publishing, LLC

COMING SOON………

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“Why am I feeling so sensitive to the comments of others lately ?” JT

by on Nov.05, 2020, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, Dealing with Controlling or Manipulative People, Self-Esteem

Dear J,

As I mentioned to you when we talked after I received your question, there are potentially many issues going on in your life.

First, your boss, who you said was being more critical of you lately, may be in the midst of anxiety and conflicts himself because the Covid Virus has effected his business. In that case you might mention that he seems a little on edge recently and if there is anything he has a problem with regarding you or your work, you would be happy to discuss the issues as you want to be successful and add to the bottom line of his business.

Then on the other hand, if he shows signs or a pattern of being critical of not only you, but most employees, and if there appears to be a pattern of control and manipulation on his part, you may want to seek another position.

However, in our discussion today, upon my probing your personal frustrations and conflicts, you seemed to be very critical and upset with yourself for the significant and persistent weight problem that has become an increasing frustration. I am betting that the weight has you feeling very out of control and fills your head with self-critical thoughts and potentially leads to lower self-esteem, whereby you are expecting others to be critical of you and to be judging you.

You and I decided to set goals and touch base in two weeks, because I believe if you see yourself taking control of the weight in reasonable steps, your self esteem will rise, your self talk will turn more positive, and your sensitivity to whatever comments you hear from others will be lessened. I will offer you SUPPORT, which we all need, as you increase your self esteem based on tangible evidence [the loss of a few pounds} you can use to fight off those negative thoughts.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/Emeritus
The Benhaven Group

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Self-Esteem: How you think , feel and what you do with your life !

by on Oct.20, 2020, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, Dealing with Controlling or Manipulative People, Self-Esteem

Self Esteem is critical to your mental health and well-being.

We begin to develop the components of our self esteem when we take our first breath and interact with our new world.

Most of us do not realize that a healthy self-esteem can be measured by taking stock of our inner thoughts, feelings and a survey of our actions in facing day to day life and its challenges. And you can take steps to improve your self-esteem, the awareness of our self-worth.

Think….Feel…Do
I often use this overly simple tool or formula to measure self-esteem, and I find it helpful. What you think about yourself in your private thoughts directly impacts what you feel, and what you feel directly impacts what you do in your life, meaning whether you grow or avoid. If you avoid conflicts or issues, or challenges to grow, then you create frustration and negative thoughts…and feelings which further paralyze your growth and self-esteem. Now, the more you face struggles and challenges, the more positive thoughts of yourself will enter your mind and effect how you feel. The better you feel, more more challenges and growth you will take on. It creates a positive cycle of mental energy.

It’s all about mental energy ! If you put energy into taking steps to challenge conflicts or issues in your life, that energizes you, and thereby takes away your potential habit to focus on negative thoughts.

However, the steps you take should be measured, taking one step at a time. As long as you know the steps are challenging but not overwhelming , you will be able to realize the positive energy.



Feedback anyone ?


Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/ Emeritus
The Benhaven Group

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Out of the Ashes

by on Oct.16, 2020, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

This is not about politics as much as it is about human nature, and the psychological forces at play in the development, or unravelling of a society.

It appears that many of us have become apathetic, lazy minded and avoidant, forgetting what it takes to be truly self-sufficient, independent, proud of our achievements and successful as an individual… and as a society.

Oh, there are still some who have the old work ethic, and realize you do not get anything for nothing, that believe the old adage “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. But there is an ever-growing wave of people becoming willingly or unknowingly dependent on others, especially on our government to think and do for them. That wave will grow to a tsunami, as that government, past and present, left or right, seems to be no longer there to serve the people, but instead to control the people so that government becomes bigger and stronger and ultimately too powerful to challenge. Fear takes over and so the citizens deny what is obvious, so as not to have to deal with the inevitable….they AVOID !

Power corrupts, it is only a matter of time. So, many in government see the opportunity to not only preserve their positions, but to grow in personal and accumulated power. Again, this is a part of human nature for some with less conscience and moral fiber to delude themselves, or justify that they are doing the right thing. They know better than we do as to what is good for us.

We are on that path, and it may be irreversible because too many do not see it, or don’t want to see it. Odds are, It is just a matter of time now. Civilizations go through these cycles, and it appears as though we are presently descending into that abyss. However, there is the possibility, if we look at our world’s history, that out of the ashes we will again see a more rational people emerge, realizing that the principles this country was created upon are necessary as part of a moral and ethical compass…and a reality that there is no perfect world or society. There will always be the WORKER BEES, DESERVERS, WOULD-BE WORKERS with SPECIAL NEEDS,the GREEDY ONES and the USERS.
The WORKER BEES are those who adhere to the ethical and moral view that you do not get anything for nothing, that each must do his or her share, must through sweat and tears make a living, provide for their families and prepare to eventually be DESERVERS. We might refer to the WORKERS as those with conscience or a moral compass.

The DESERVERS who have put in their time and sweat as Workers, have made a living for themselves and their families and now wish to retire in some form of peace and tranquility while still being fruitful by sharing their knowledge and wisdom with the next generation of WORKERS.

The WOULD-BE WORKERS who are seeking to be full-fledged WORKERS, but need direction, internships, emotional support and opportunity, and are not looking for hand-outs or a free ride.

The WORKERS with SPECIAL NEEDS who have become DESERVERS, who have the ethical and moral fiber to be WORKER BEES, but through no fault of their own, have suffered ” legitimate” physical or mental ailments that limit their ability to perform as WORKERS, thus needing special assistance.

The GREEDY ONES, who manipulate and control others for their own gain, rationalizing that all is fair in love, war and politics. Many a Sociopath and Politician may come to mind. A lack of true moral compass is a common characteristic. They can lie with a straight face, or even a smile as they deceive, all for their own agendas. The WORKERS don’t see what is happening at first, because they do not want to see the DARK SIDE of mankind.

The USERS, are those who can justify living off the WORKERS, capable but lacking confidence or the drive to become all they can be. They rely on scamming the system, and playing the game to reap rewards without putting out true effort. They are the one’s who feel ENTITLED. The USERS may willingly or unwittingly give up their option to be WORKERS, aquiescing to the short-lived promises made by the GREEDY ONES. Once the GREEDY ONES see the benefit of manipulating the USERS, an inevitable and a very unholy alliance is formed where USERS knowingly or unknowingly, become puppets or pawns.

The GREEDY ONES can amass great power, and can use that power, plus the tactics of SHAME, BLAME and GUILT to cause the WORKERS to acquiesce and surrender more of what they earn to provide support for the USERS. The end game is unlimited control for the GREEDY ONES, until the inevitable occurs. The WORKERS rebel, and the GREEDY ONES begin to self-destruct as 1] they can no longer provide for the ever-growing needs of the USERS who have become totally DEPENDENT and 2] they destroy one another as they compete with other GREEDY ONES for more power and control. The USERS then rebel, and class warfare ensues. Remember the GREAT SOCIETIES such as Rome. The society implodes !

In either case, as part of the instinct for survival, the WORKERS will eventually be reborn from the ashes, and with less tolerance, if any, for the USERS and the GREEDY ONES.

And the cycle begins anew ! Why ? Because on the road to becoming a more evolved and conscientious society, we slowly forget the nature of mankind. In time, there will again be WORKERS who are willing to give, USERS who are more than willing to take, and GREEDY ONES who cannot help but fall into the trap, the cycle of power and control and of feeling they are special and above and beyond all others. Human nature is predictable ! We can pray for enlightenment ! We might even learn from the past and recognize what is happening, but the window of opportunity is short-lived and the tendency to avoid thinking, feeling and dealing with the dark side of mankind is so strong. What do you think ?

Just my opinion, but if we as a society provided job opportunities and training, as well as took major steps to prevent fraud in our programs meant to assist people, we would not be promoting dependence, but instead, pride in one’s achievements.

Is it just me, or does it seem like if the money our goverments wasted would be put into infrastructure jobs and manufacturing, the materials needed to re-build America’s roads, sewers , water and electricity grids, we would have a lot more people feeling that pride, worth and value in themselves and our Country.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/Emeritus

The Benhaven Group

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Picking Healthy Friends

by on Jul.18, 2019, under Dealing with Controlling or Manipulative People, STOPPING ABUSE

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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