When Fear Rules !

Tag: agoraphobia

She was only trying to protect herself !

by on Dec.11, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

“She Was Only Protecting Herself From Further Rejection and Pain “


I  was talking to a client who was experiencing excruciating and frequent panic attacks that were causing her to not want to leave her home.

She was a single mom with a job and a great deal of responsibility for two kids. I was initially thinking to myself that she must feel overwhelmed at times raising  kids and working and having all that on her shoulders. But she quickly said, “ I am a strong person, independent, I do not allow myself to become needy of anyone, and I work hard to stay in-control !”

I heard what she said, loud and clear, but something did not click for me as I saw a softer side below what she was “trying” to project. When I probed further, she also told me of a past where she was a people pleaser, never set boundaries which allowed people to take advantage of her. She admitted that  she sought approval and allowed herself to be abused in her first marriage.

Since I am always looking for the emotional conflicts that are the actual triggers for panic attacks, bells went off in my head. So I asked, “What happened to that nice, caring, adapting person who loved people and just wanted to enjoy life ? Do you think you buried her, eliminated her and her needs from your mind ?”

She thought for a moment and said, “ But I cannot allow myself to be vulnerable to people again. I cannot trust people to be there. !”

Therein lies the conflict ! She is still that adapting, caring, sensitive, even approval seeking person, but she has worked so hard to over-correct to protect herself, that she is in pain that she is missing what she always wanted, an intimate  relationship, a healthy, loving companion to share with. Her over-correction was in a real sense denying her most basic needs.

She needed to focus on  being who she really is, BUT, learning to do so in a healthier way. She needed to learn to make better choices, set better boundaries, and deal only with those who “proved they were trustworthy and dependable as well as shared some of the same needs.

One cannot change who they are ! It is not who she was that caused her pain, since she possesses many wonderful qualities. It was that she had to be smarter in the way she lived her life to realize she had the right to be who she was, but also that she could learn to allow in her private space only those who deserved to be her friends or companions.

Adapting personalities, like the caregivers, conformers, peacekeepers and perfectionists are more susceptible to anxiety , especially in the form of panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive behaviors because they do not set boundaries for FEAR of rejection, failure or abandonment. It is very hard to teach a person to care and to feel, to be truly intimate persons, but it is a very do-able task to teach and learn to set boundaries. Learning to say “No” when your gut tells you something is not comfortable or right, even when that habitual, approval seeking voice in your head is telling you to adjust what you think and feel in order to please the other person is a typical dilemma for adapting personalities, and it is a very treatable pattern of behavior that can be changed.

We will talk more about this issue and others in future newsletters and at our On-Line Support Groups on Sunday Nights at OneStepataTime.com

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

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Is The Fear of Change Paralyzing You ?

by on Nov.28, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

We have fought wars to be free, yet, with all the freedoms we do have, one that we squander each day is the freedom to change.

I received a very timely message on Facebook from a friend, Betsy, that read “ If you change nothing, nothing will change  ! “

In my profession  as a psychologist, I am ALL ABOUT CHANGE.  People suffer much frustration in life, much of it directed back at themselves, because they allow opportunities for change to pass by. They get stuck with what is known, with what they are comfortably-uncomfortable with……therefore, they become stagnant, as they settle.

Don’t most, if not all of us have personal issues, self-esteem or personal growth issues that we want to improve upon ?  For one person it may be their weight, for another it is their frustration with a go-no-where job, and yet for others it is a stagnant or even abusive relationship that they feel unable to extract themselves from. Don’t we just want to feel more CONTROL in our lives ? Don’t we want to feel some PASSION ?

Some think long and hard about making changes, but then the FEARS set in. The fear of failure, rejection. embarrassment or ridicule. Many are so dependent on approval that they allow what they think others will say influence so much of what they do, or don’t do to stretch beyond the norm.

So what do we do ?

We buy more self-help books looking for  some magic pill. We go to a Self-esteem or healing seminar looking for an EPIPHANY, a previously hidden realization that just comes from out of the blue.

Well, you are making authors of these books and seminars rich, but how often do books and seminars actually bring about change ?

I DO believe we can all find more happiness with who we are and what we do, but we need to explore our personalities, explore our past and see where we have felt passion, where we have felt something special. We sometimes are so busy focusing on our self-perceived weaknesses, that we cannot see through the clouds of doubt we create.

Nothing I say here is going to cause a massive change in the way we avoid options to grow through making changes. But maybe I can hit a nerve with just you. Look at some of those weaknesses, and maybe there are some hidden strengths. You may be shy, but are you a good listener ? You maybe have made some bad choices in your life, but what have you learned from those  choices ? Tell me about your personality. What makes you different than some others ?  I  bet you are not taking advantage of what makes you really different.

What have you experienced in your life that has caused you to feel some passion, some inner excitement ? Don’t drown out these thoughts with those always present negative and often obsessive thoughts and fears.

Are you more logical and analytic ? Are you more emotional ? Do you have patience when dealing with others ? Are you persistent ? Do people come to you for advice ? Are you sensitive to the needs of others ? Are you especially creative ? Can you take up a cause and see it through ?

People so often take jobs because they were just there. How often do people explore jobs that actually fit their personality, fit their emotional needs ?

And how about our choices in relationships ? What initially attracts us to a special person, especially when we are young, does not often hold and nurture a relationship later on. How many of us find ourselves naturally attracted to opposites, maybe because we are drawn to someone who appears to have different qualities than we do ?
What about what we REALLY NEED in a relationship ?

Yes, we can all make changes that would greatly enhance our happiness in our personal life, relationships and career or avocation. But if we take the time to truly explore the nature of who we are, what makes us unique, what brings us sustained pleasure and a sense of worth and value at the end of the day, and lay out a game plan, step by step to explore the possibilities rather than overwhelm ourselves by thinking huge steps instead of small, frequent steps, we might actually be able to make changes without becoming paralyzed by fear.

If you are interested in exploring this further, come to our On-Line Support Group on Sunday evenings at 9 ET. It is free, and we can all work on creating a game plan for change that would not stimulate so much fear.

Go to : www.OneStepataTime.com

Join and become a member…It’s Free !

Then Join us in our Support Group on Sundays.

Also Check out our Blog at www.RuledByFear.com

See us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/Gene.Benedetto  and then join our Facebook Group, RuledByFear.  Options and choices ! What WILL you do ???

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

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He Knew the Triggers for Anxiety and Panic

by on Nov.07, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

So this client comes back after almost twenty years, saying he has not had panic attacks for all that time. Previous to that, his life had become RuledByFear in that the panic attacks were frequent and intense and were  effecting all aspects of his life, both his work and personal life.

He had learned and understood the causes for his previous panic attacks and had made some significant changes in his life which reduced the conflicts and issues that were previously triggers.

Now, after all that time, he returned with another form of anxiety symptom. His blood pressure had risen dangerously high. It was not constant, but frequent enough to put the scare into him. He did the normal visits to the doctor and was told there was no physical causation they could find.

So, he came to discuss what he thought might be the triggers for this renewal of anxiety symptoms, and behold, he was right on the money. He had pretty much figured it out, which meant he had learned well in the past. But he wanted some reassurance, which is quite normal.

He realized he had been under a great deal of stress lately, even more than just stress, he was feeling CONFLICT again, and that sense of being out of control over something in his life. Sure enough, he had been trying to help a friend of his son who was in bad need of medical care but had no money, and on top of that, was visiting from another country which is known to not have adequate medical care.

He felt he knew a lot of people, and besides, this young person was in crisis and truly needed immediate attention, including surgeries. Sadly, he  had exhausted most all of his contacts and options and he heard nothing but rejection, even from doctors. He took the rejection somewhat personally as  it caused him to feel that what he believed, that we are basically good people who will come to the aide of those less fortunate, especially when their ills are not the result of anything they have done.

Yes, he did finally find a resource that would help, but by that time, his faith in his fellow man had been shaken. He truly  had his eyes opened to the reality that he had little control in this case  and it caused him great personal conflict. I cannot adequately express all that he went through in just a few words, but understand, reality can sometimes shake you down to your toes.

At least he came to realize that it was all this  conflict that was causing his anxiety symptoms, so he did save himself from  allowing those symptoms to escalate into panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

We can at times be so enveloped in a situation that is causing us great conflict that we do not see what is happening to us. Then of course, we can become so wrapped up in our symptoms and obsessing that there is something seriously amiss medically, that we lose sight that we are reacting to feeling ‘out of control’ over some real issue in our lives.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist


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When Panic and Obsessive Thoughts Return

by on Oct.16, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Relapse: When the Panic or Obsessive Thoughts Return

Yes, as frustrating as I know it must be to hear this, it is true. Symptoms of panic attacks or obsessive/intrusive thoughts can return. However, this does not mean you cannot gain control and eliminate these symptoms.

What does it mean ?

Well, if you have not done  any therapy, it may mean that the sources for your panic or intrusive thoughts had temporarily passed, or that you are taking medication that helped you over-ride your symptoms for a while, or maybe that you have been so distracted by other significant issues in your life that the symptoms took a back seat in your life. But obviously, if you have not done the work to identify the true causal factors, the real sources as well as gone through a process of desensitizing to your symptoms through therapy, then the band-aid you used to deal with these symptoms has come off.

If you have done therapy, but did work to desensitize step by step to your symptoms so that you are less fearful, but have not really dealt with the sources of your symptoms, then it is just a matter of time when they will return as those sources rear their ugly heads someday.

As an example, let’s imagine a woman who was so plagued by intrusive thoughts that her husband was or would cheat on her that she was obsessed with checking his cell phone for unknown callers. The more she gave into this urge, the stronger the need became. Since she was able to feel immediate relief when she found no strange numbers on his cell, her behavior was internally rewarded. However, she also realized she was taking a serious risk in that if he found her checking on him, it would damage his perception of his wife, causing HIM to distrust HER.

She was able to show more control of her urges to check by recognizing them quickly, postponing giving in to them and then giving herself something else to focus her mind on, like calling a friend, working on a project, or going out with friends.

She made some progress, then, without warning, the urges became so strong again that the obsessions and need to check returned with a fury.

The issue ?  She also needed to understand the source of her fears and  deal with them. She came to understand that her fears of his cheating on her were really without evidence, but were there because she, in fact, was rather needy emotionally and wanted and needed a more open show of affection to feel good about herself.

Her husband loved her, but was not one to initiate affection. So her mind drifted and she had fantasies of other being with other men.. Her fantasies caused her some guilt, but also led her project her  needs on her husband. “If I have these thoughts, HE  must be having these thoughts too !”

Once she clearly understood it was HER insecurity and neediness that was the source of the problem, we set up a plan to build on his self-esteem.

She lost wait through exercise and changes in her diet.

She got involved with projects she enjoyed but had avoided.

She tried new things and initiated going more places with her husband.

All these things just made her look even better to him. She felt better about herself, and her throwing so much energy into personal growth stimulated her husband’s positive reactions and comments.

Instead of focusing on her fears, she focused on both self-improvement as well as being a loving but less needy wife.

As she became more comfortable with this game plan and saw his response, she was able to see her own fantasies change in that they were more about things to do with her husband. As the husband responded more positively and openly because of changes he was seeing in her, she was receiving the feedback she needed to refute her fearful thoughts.

Any thoughts ?


Gene Benedetto , Psychologist



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Self-Esteem and Panic Attacks

by on Oct.08, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Back to the Basics !

Let me first say that I would REALLY like to see you make some real progress in taking control of your anxiety, whether it be in the form of panic attacks, phobias, agoraphobia or obsessive/intrusive thoughts and /or compulsive behaviors.

Yes, I believe, actually, I KNOW you can gain more control over your symptoms if you are only willing to work hard to understand the true SOURCES of your anxiety, if you will take the time to develop a healthy and reasonable PLAN, and finally, are at a point where you are willing to work that plan, step by step.

You notice I did not say you could overcome your symptoms in  six easy steps, that all you have to do is buy some CD or DVD program. It does not work that way. It takes hard work and determination. But it does work because it is YOU taking steps to make it work and not just looking for a  magic pill. No Pain, No Gain !….or Know Pain, Know gain…get it?

I have no doubt that your Self-Esteem has a great deal to do with WHY you had anxiety symptoms to begin with, as is the case for most of us. There are things we need to do in our lives, people and situations we need to deal with so that we feel more in control in our lives, but we have avoided those people or situations because we want to avoid conflict, avoid disapproval or rejection.

When we avoid, our self-esteem takes a hit, a serious thrashing over time. If you just LISTEN to the way you sometimes talk to yourself in your private moments, you can probably hear your negative self-talk. :

“ I wish I would have taken the time to finish my degree !”,

“Why did I allow that person to manipulate me, why was I so weak ?”

“Why have I let myself go and gained so much weight, I can just imagine what people are thinking about me ? ”

“Here I am, another year has gone by and I have not made any of the changes I promised myself I would ! “

“Why did I yes, I did not want to go there with them ? ”

“ I am stuck in this job and it’s too late to change anything ! “

“ Why am I still in this relationship, I know I am miserable and it is not going to get better.? Maybe I am not suppose to be happy ! “

“ Nothing good ever comes my way. I must be cursed ! “

“How could I be so stupid to let him use me that way ? “

I could go on and one, but you get the idea. No one else has to put you down, you probably do enough of that to yourself. And, what I find in most cases is that this kind of avoidance and negative self-talk has been going on since you were a kid, or at least a teenager. People can be cruel and say and do hurtful things to others, mostly because they have their own self-esteem issues.

Maybe you have been bullied. Maybe you were made fun of by others. Maybe your need for approval caused you to spend more time pleasing the other people and not focusing on doing what you really wanted to do in and with your life.

Well, I have to tell you something and you need to listen ! It is not too late to make changes in your life and take steps to boost your  self -esteem while also learning to face your fears and anxieties. If you want to get on board, come join us in Support Group at www.OneStepataTime.com. We will start those groups in about two weeks on Sunday nights at 9 PM, ET.

Of course, you could avoid this too !

Gene Benedetto, Coach

Clinical Psychologist



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Why Do Fairy Tales Always Have Bad Guys?

by on Sep.03, 2011, under STOPPING ABUSE

Why Do Fairy Tales Usually have Bad Guys ?

I was talking to my very special young friend about doing some writing and using her imagination more. She has a wonderful imagination, but lately, she has let it sit on the shelf while dealing with many changes she has been going through.

If you have followed past newsletters and my blog at www.RuledByFear.com , then you are probably aware that this young lady is my adopted and very very special grandchild who found me when she was a homeless child surviving on the streets by herself.

Besides surviving the challenges and abuse of the streets, she has had to face more changes and significant emotional challenges, as well as physical health issues as she adjusted to life with a wonderful family who took her in.

It sounds like a fairy tale when you think of a child, abandoned and on her own, who struggled, survived, and found her way to me and then ultimately to this great family who offered her love and a home. But that fairy tale was full of bad guys. people who used and abused her.

So when I was talking to her recently about some sleep problems she was having as she was learning to adjust to wearing a C-pap {oxygen emitting tubes in her nose at night},I mentioned that she should again be thinking of writing and using her imagination as she had done before, as a way to get her mind off her health issues and the tubes in her nostrils. We started talking about the fairy tales we liked and I mentioned that I had just watched “Tangled” for the second time. She asked me, “ Why do all fairy tales seem to have bad guys in them, where the good guys have to fight and struggle? “

Well, bad guys are real. They do exist in most of our lives. So even most movies show the struggle between good and evil, don’t they ?

Fairy tales often make the bad guys look pretty gruesome, just like with the old cowboy shows I watched as a kid where the bad guys wore black hats and looked like they never had seen a razor or a bathtub.

The reality is, bad guys often are not so obvious. They come in all shapes and sizes, and can be clean-cut and be dressed in all-white. They can be male or female, they can even be young and appear innocent. There are all degrees of bad guys too. There are people who are just greedy, selfish and don’t fully realize how they hurt other people, while others are deeply focused on controlling and manipulating other people to get what they want. They can be pretty smart, although they are usually very insecure people down deep in their souls. Yes, they have souls, but their spirits have often been infected by their own traumas and pains.

So, fairy tales have bad guys because we want very much to see good triumph over evil. We want to have hope that if we persevere, we can win over the evil witch, or the Dark Side. When the dark Side does win in a Star Wars, you know there will be a sequel. It is almost demanded by society that we have the Jedi Nights triumph in the end.

In real life, it is often that we avoid challenging the dark side. This has a powerful effect on our self-esteem, as we find ourselves being angry with ourselves for allowing people to use and abuse us.

Just recently I was talking to a really great young teenager who was referred to me because of panic attacks and outbursts of anger. What he has discovered is that he is a truly nice guy, and feels great inner conflict when he allows his need for approval to, in turn, allow people to use him. He is realizing that his anger is with them, but mostly with himself for letting it happen. After a while, he came to believe there was something wrong with him, that maybe God was upset with him or that he was being punished. It is his anger with himself that was causing the inner conflict that was causing his panic attacks and intrusive thoughts, and then led to him punching holes into walls.

He is now learning to no longer let bad people in his life. He is focusing on all the good in him, an finding people who are more like him.

So, my dear grand-daughter, there are bad guys, but we can learn to see them for whom they are and protect ourselves from them. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to grow smarter every day while learning to do very great things with your life. Then, your self- esteem, the way you look at yourself will grow stronger and more positive, and will cause you to NOT need people who are not good guys.


Aka, Grandpa

Gene Benedetto , Psychologist

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If Someone Would Only Have Listened !

by on Aug.21, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

I received a frantic and very emotional call from a man who was at “his wits end” not knowing where else to turn. His wife, Traci, was suffering from obsessive thoughts that were ruling her life.

He reported that she had been this way most of their marriage, and actually most of her life, but the only treatment she had received was in the form of at least two hospital sessions that ended up to be in-patient programs, basically, the psych ward
. She was apparently on a relatively low dose of an SSRI, he thought is was Celexa, but she was getting worse. What could he do?

I promised to come in early the next morning to talk with her on the phone. I needed to see whether SHE saw her thoughts as a problem, or whether she was being pressured by her husband to call. It is almost impossible to work with an OCD client if they do not feel there is a problem.

But yes, it was a problem, and her thoughts did rule her life. She had never really had any therapy, just medications. Nothing was working and her fears were becoming more bizarre by the hour.

Most of her fears seemed to be related to religious fears and associations. She feared she would somehow be taken over by the devil if she touched things that were dirty or germ infested. However, the intrusive thoughts had grown and festered to the point that being near one of her grandchildren with a potentially soiled diaper would set her off. Then, even if the baby had sat on the floor and had wet diaper, the floor was now so contaminated that she could not be in the same house with the kids. On and on it had grown, to the point that as much as she felt it was all so crazy, she could not stop herself.

Of course, then I find that this started as a child, as early as six years of age where she would have such guilt over any thought that was ever so slightly frowned upon by her family.

The bottom line was , I told her she needed an intensive in-patient OCD program that would regulate her meds and work with her on a daily basis to re-establish some trust in herself and her ability to control her thoughts. I wanted to work with her, but I know this had gone for too long, over fifty years, and out-patient therapy was just not going to cut it. I promised her that I would work with her once she was stabilized to the point that she could work one on one with me, but at this point, the thoughts were so overwhelmingly intense that in-patient was a must.

I know she was disappointed, but yet heard me say I would be there when she got back. She seemed to take heart in that, so I KNOW she wants to have control and get better. I recommended a few specific OCD treatment centers.

It reminded me of a few of the newer children I am working with who are experiencing OCD symptoms. Each one was so different, yet they were the same in that they felt controlled by their obsessive/intrusive thoughts. Whether germ related, thoughts of the devil or evil, sexual obsessions or a child who could not talk due to obsessive fears that something evil would come out of her mouth, these kids were suffering and many of the parents just wanted to treat the symptoms. “Maybe if you just put him on medications, he would stop thinking these weird things”.

These kids, each one of them, were reacting to conflicts, angry emotions and issues that they did not know how to deal with. It was their anger and frustration, and not knowing how to deal with their conflicting emotions that caused guilt feelings, and the guilt feelings led to them feeling they were bad, and therefore something bad would happen to them….or that they would do something bad to another.

These children can be saved from a lifetime of pain if they are worked with now, not just with medications. Here is a unique and novel idea, let’s listen and find out what the children are actually feeling and thinking !

I wonder if someone had heard Traci and took time to feel her pain many a year ago, would she be going through what she is now ?

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She Speaks !!!

by on May.28, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

She Speaks !!!!!

I had mentioned in an earlier article about a young lady I was working with who had not spoken to anyone but her mother since first grade. She was referred to me as a case of “selective mutism” in that we knew there was no physiological barriers to her speech, but yet she would not utter a single word outside the protective walls of her home.

When I met her, she was thirteen, and was about to graduate from eight grade. Although accommodations had been made for her in her small private elementary school, High school would present more problems for a child who could, but would not speak.

She had been to other therapists, but she resisted their efforts. I did not ask, nor did I want to know what methods or approaches they had tried, as I did not want to be influenced in any way. I wanted to get my own feel for this child and the psychological and sociological factors that caused her to “choose” to be mute.

I found that as an only child, she had been somewhat sheltered and protected, but certainly loved. There had been a difficult kindergarten and first grade experience where this young child had possibly experienced some overwhelming pressures, but all in all, there were no serious traumas.

I focused of developing a trusting relationship with her, with the thought that as I got to know her, I would learn the conflicts and issues that were most likely sources for her unique anxiety reaction.

I made sure to let her know that even though I would suggest steps to take to face her “fear” of speaking, I would expect HER to decide which steps or how big a step to take. Feeling in control is a crucial issue for most who are experiencing panic attacks, significant anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorders. So, I let her know that I would be her “coach”, but she had to decide what steps were to be taken ……an we together developed a step by step plan that took us from gradually making nonsense sounds just to make noise, to a progression of steps where she could see that whatever she feared was not an issue as we move up the hierarchy of our joint plan.

It took a few months, but two weeks ago, as I went to bring her in from the waiting room, the smiles on the faces of both mother and child said it all. She had progressed, step by step, and was able to give a short speech to her class about her Summer plans.

I was as excited for her as if it were my first case, because I knew she so wanted to feel in control of her life, but fear was holding her back.

At the next appointment, her mom reported some interesting results. Not only had she talked more and more to her fellow classmates, but she was overheard “telling a few of the bullies in school what she thought about them”. She had not only found her voice, but years of repressing to avoid rejection, embarrassment and the cruel games that children can play, had finally found an outlet for expression.

It took patience, and the realization that she had control of the steps she could take to find her voice. Steps allowed her to move against her fears in small enough bites that she did not choke. She was able to get the internal feedback that she was OK, which tehn gave her the strength and trust in self that she could do more.

The word is out, don’t cross her or you will get a piece of her mind, in the form of words that she had stored up for years.

Gene Benedetto, Clinical Psychologist

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Holding on to Fear !

by on May.22, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Holding on to Fear !

One typical behavior I see among most of my clients who experience panic attacks, or intrusive/obsessive thoughts is that they hold on to their fears.

I am not saying that they are fully conscious of what they are doing or why, but nonetheless, this can be at the heart of why they experienced panic or OCD to begin with.

Many times I have expressed that when a person experiences conflicts in his or her life, especially when there is a habit to avoiding or ignoring the conflicts, that an inner sense of weakness develops. We have all made some bad decisions in life, and most of us have had experiences where we feel we did not handle a situation well. Many of us have felt we have been bullied or found ourselves controlled or manipulated by another person. If we never take steps to deal with the people or situations, if we allow ourselves to repeatedly avoid conflict, what is the result ?

Avoiding conflicts leads to an erosion of self esteem for sure. When faced with conflicts, we feel fear. We often feel anger towards the person or situation that presents us with conflict, but we are often angry with ourselves for allowing the situations to persist. With the erosion or self-esteem comes the equally painful erosion of trust in ourselves. This begins a never ending and blinding cycle of avoidance…deflating of self-esteem…anger with self….lack of trust in self….and then more avoidance.

Sometimes the reality of this cycle existing in our lives is just more than we want to admit to, except in our most private thoughts. As a result of this emotional cycle, many will experience the symptoms of panic , intrusive thoughts or the menacing pattern of compulsive or ritualistic behaviors that seem to run our lives. What happens then is that the symptoms become the focus of all our attention. The symptoms, the result of our fears, allow us to further avoid recognizing or dealing with the source of our pain…..avoidance.

It is never easy facing our fears. However, when lack of self-trust and a fragile self-esteem take root, holding on to our fears allows us to further avoid.

Yes…there is an answer…a solution. No quick fix, but a step by step approach to realizing and facing your fears in real life. You will most likely need a very close friend, an ally or a coach to help you through this process, because you have allowed yourself to be Ruled By Fear.
But, it can be done.

Gene Benedetto,
Clinical Psychologist

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Fear of Change

by on May.01, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

It is so very easy to settle for less when you yearn for more. Deciding what needs to be changed is a challenge in itself, but once realized, we are most likely to overwhelm ourselves at the prospect of what needs to change.

I have seen first hand, and repeatedly, that if I have the opportunity to guide my clients not only to the source of their anxieties, but also have to chance to help them set up a game plan for change, a step by step approach, there success is much greater. Left on their own, most people allow their need for approval and fear of failure, rejection and embarrassment to cause them to try to make change with bigger bites then they can swallow, which ensures the frustration and often, failure that they fear.

Most often, we have developed certain habits of avoidance that cause us to put off anything uncomfortable, so we spend many of our productive years comfortably-uncomfortable, trapped as our life is Ruled By Fear.

Breaking free of our self-imposed entrapment requires that the degree of fear related to potential change is felt to be outweighed by the emotional pain, and symptoms we experience as a result of our avoidance of the needed change.

Creating a reasonable plan to approach needed changes in reasonable bites, step by step, requires patience for sure, but allows you to create some emotional momentum to help you take the next step.

The needed changes most often have to do with learning to more effectively realize and then communicate your needs, learn to deal with difficult people who often realize your need for approval and take full advantage of your need to please, but mostly to see yourself doing things with your life that enhance your perceptions of yourself, your self-esteem.

Those personalities who are less wanting or needing of approval are able to rely of what they DO in order to foster their self-esteem rather than being as dependent of the nods and smiles and encouraging words of others. Now, those of us who do value approval from others may at times be at a disadvantage, but isn’t it better to have that emotional and intimate side of one’s personality, but realize the need to focus on our gifts and talents and seriously make an effort to realize the value of what we do ?

Gene Benedetto

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