When Fear Rules !

Am I Just A Weak Person ?

by on Mar.27, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Something that came to my attention recently as I was discussing this issue with one of my clients who has made significant progress in dealing with his intrusive thoughts and panic attacks is the fact that after all is said and done, he still sees himself as weak for having had these symptoms.

While I certainly understand that many people feel the same way, that if we were stronger emotionally and psychologically, we would not be so vulnerable to panic or OCD, I believe we need to stand back and look hard at the source of these anxiety symptoms.

Now, I feel compelled to say from the onset, that there may be cases where my argument may not apply. However, I am not concerned about proving anything to anyone,but rather sharing from my experience over the past forty years of offering therapy to clients suffering from panic and OCD.

You are free to consider that a person MAY have some genetic predisposition or some unidentified chemical imbalance that causes these symptoms. Certainly, the fact that there are medications such as the SSRI’s and SSNRI’s {Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, etc.} that seem to alleviate some symptoms in some people, offers some evidence for those who argue the genetic or chemical imbalance theory.

However, I suggest you consider, that these medications do not get to the true source, but raise or alter our bodies chemistry so that we might deal with the symptoms more effectively. I have no problem with these medications, as I suggest them to many of my clients because i know that they do not initially have the faith and trust in themselves, nor the knowledge on hand to cope with their symptoms without medications. But, I believe that most of my clients, who in fact experience significant reduction of symptoms, and often report no further symptoms, are a testament to the reality that it is our thinking patterns, our insecure and conflicting thoughts and emotions and our avoiding change that creates the atmosphere in which panic and OCD arises.

So, I offer you the option to consider, that not is not a sign of weakness that you might experience these symptoms, but that you unknowingly create the symptoms because you allow yourself to be overwhelmed as you seek approval without setting boundaries as to the degree you subject yourself to others due to your NEED for that approval. You seek approval as a caregiver, but then allow yourself to be used. You conform to others wishes and demands and do what you perceive they expect from you at the expense of your own self esteem. You burn yourself out proving your worth and value to negate the chance of rejection or disapproval in the eyes of others. I could go on and on.

The point is, that many of us who have suffered these symptoms do so because we stretch so far NEEDING approval in order to feel worth and value, instead of finding that approval in what we do.

Some KEY ISSUES are:

1. The excessive need for outside approval instead of nurturing approval from within, which creates a unhealthy dependency on others which makes us vulnerable, and leads us to feel OUT OF CONTROL.

2. Our FEAR OF CHANGE, and therefore our habit of AVOIDING so that even if we somehow realize the emotional and psychological conflicts that are leading us into our symptoms, we fear taking any stand to change any of our dependent behaviors.

3. Our habit of falling into an all or nothing mode if we are finally pushed to make changes, instead of working to develop a healthy, step by step game plan for change. Then, of course, the all or nothing approach dooms many to be overwhelmed so that he or she shuts down and gives into their old dependent ways.

So, is it weakness, or a want for approval that turns into a need because we do not understand, or see that it is natural for the adapting personalities, [the Caregivers, Conformers, and Perfectionists and sometimes the Peacekeepers], to lose sight of a ‘want turning to a need’. While these are some of the most caring and productive members of our society, often the first to step up in the face of crises, they are unaware of the dependency that develops when they do not know how, or fail to set boundaries and care for themselves, nurture themselves, learn to say, I need a balance in my life.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

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7 Comments for this entry

  • Michael Bajaksouzian

    Thank you for sharing this with us gene. This post reminded me of an article I once read titled:

    “From Parent Pleasing-To People Pleasing”.

    I posted the link below incase anyone is interested. The article really hits on a lot of the things you discuss.


  • BioBasics

    Hi! I found your blog on AOL.Its really comprehensive and it helped me a lot. Continue the good work!

  • Russ

    Happy Easter…

    Haven’t had a session with you in a few months and visit your web site for reminders. This particular entery is the most fitting as I am currently facing challenges with some changes in my life. I am starting week three at a new job as a temporary where not only do I have the task of learning a new job, but wondering if I will be hired after the 90 day contract is up. Needless to say that is creating some internal tension, and I have been off meds since October.

    Anxiety likes to creep up on me and creating a breeding ground for intrusive thoughts. I feel if I was still on medicine it would make blocking out the thoughts easier, but I refuse to be on medicine because I dont believe it is a necessity. As we have always discussed… where is your focus at? Is the name of the game for me and by filling my brain with other positive pleasurable/constructive thoughts I am able to combat the intrusive thoughts quiet effectively. Again, do I think it would be easier to deal with on the meds? Yes, but I feel that my growth as an individual knows that I can pull through this with out them.

    Hope all is well.

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  • autocad mep 2011

    hey buddy, this is a very interesting article

  • chocolate diamonds

    Great post, saved this page, I will check back later.

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