When Fear Rules !

Tag: anger

Out of the Ashes !

by on Oct.21, 2016, 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
CEO, The Benhaven Group

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Destroyed by His Words !

by on Aug.07, 2015, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

Destroyed by His Words !

He is a Narcissistic Sociopath, and although he is very real, I will give him a fictitious name, Lucius. Upon my exposing him for what he was, he actually bragged and boasted about the “tools” he possessed that allowed him to control and manipulate people, both in business and in his personal life.

Lucius recognized as a teenager, that the things he said and the way he treated people caused them to be “like putty in my hands, allowing me to mold them into thinking and doing what I wanted”. As he became an adult, his awareness of his power over people grew by leaps and bounds. No one was safe from his manipulation, even his own daughter.

Being an attorney who specialized in medical malpractice suites in which he was ruthless and gained a mind-numbing reputation, Lucius would explain how he got a dopamine rush, a surge of adrenaline, realizing the power he had over people. He used that power not just in building a rather successful practice, but systematically taking control of his wife, their sexual interactions and her life by making her a victim of abuse that weakened a once strong woman with a career of her own, turning her into an emotionally weak, dependent blob.

My stomach turned and I felt nauseated as I knew that there had been many a victim who fell prey to this man’s initial charm and gradual degrading of their self-esteem as he manipulated his potential victim’s thoughts and behaviors by using tools such as blame, shame and guilt. Oh he was good at it, and he knew it. The smirk on his face said it all.

Lucius knew that I was aware of what he had done to destroy his own daughter’s will to live, and what he was now attempting to do was use his skills of manipulation and control to shut me down. He calmly said,
” You do not know who you are dealing with ! I can and will destroy you ! No one will believe anything you say anyway ! ” He was using fear tactics, which he was quite accomplished at due to his lack of conscience.

Then he said something I will never forget. “Everyone has made mistakes. Every man and woman on the face the earth who has a conscience has something they regret, or have done or avoided something for which feel shame or guilt. I know how to find out about a person’s past, and I will find a way to take advantage of whatever weakness or fear that a person has and I will use that knowledge to take control ! ”

Yes, he was a narcissistic sociopath, but what is critical to understand is that the only real control he would have over his victim would be if he or she gave into their fear.

Someday soon I will share the rest of this true story.

Something I learned from all of this over time, and now forty years of practice, is that there are far many more borderline or full-blown sociopathic personalities among us breathing the same air we do, every day of our lives. Their narcissistic and self-absorbing care for themselves and superficial show of care and concern for others is of course a tell-tale sign. But their ability to lie to our faces, and effectively try to find and take full advantage of the weakness in anyone who would challenge them, has at times made them all powerful. One of the primary strengths, and at the same time weaknesses in some of us that make us potential victims to manipulation is that some we have a conscience, are capable of feeling guilt, and have less of an ability to recognize evil in other people.

When many of us come up against people like Lucius, we just want to walk away , avoid them.
What can you do to defend yourself from such people ?

First, be aware that many such people exist. Watch for the signs, as they can lie to your face without flinching. If you can feel something uncomfortable, don’t ignore what you feel.

Don’t be mesmerized by what other people say about this person, think for yourself ! There have been many times in history where the minds of intelligent people have been paralyzed by the charisma of a charming, well-spoken person. All the while, below the surface may smolder the agenda of a selfish, control-seeking personality. There are many instances in history, where a person with a charismatic nature, who speaks well and seems to have their act together, takes over the minds of others who may know better but avoid being the one to speak up. Although I admired much about John F. Kennedy, the “Bay of Pigs” issue comes to mind where it is reported that many in his Cabinet had serious issues and conflicts with his decisions, but never expressed their warnings.

Realize that many controlling and manipulative people will say what you want to hear, but do what they want to do. So listen to their language. Do they follow the rules of respectfully dealing with others, or do they have some uncanny way of creating diversions and chaos, and then do their deeds amongst all the chaos and before the smoke clears ? When questioned, do they really answer the concerns others express or turn to comments that are an attempt to make you feel that if you do not agree with them, you are somehow a racist, a bigot, or an uncaring person ?

Life can be hard at times, but good hard work and effort to better yourself builds pride and character. If someone offers you something for nothing, it is a pretty good sign you will end up with nothing,

If you are an adapting or approval seeking personality, you are easy prey for the narcissistic, manipulative personality types. They can smell the want for approval and acceptance in other people.

Once a person gets sucked into the space of the narcissistic sociopath, a dependency is formed on that person’s approval. Then, after becoming a victim, you may not be willing to admit to yourself that you were suckered, so you say nothing, and that avoidance causes you to feel even less in control of your life, which makes you even more vulnerable.

This phenomenon occurs in business as well as personal relationships. How many people do you know that are stuck in unhealthy marriages, where one of the partners shames. blames and guilts the other to silence their legitimate complaints ? Why do so many remain in those unhealthy, esteem destroying relationships for so long ?

Express yourself and your feelings about persons that your gut tells you are manipulative, controlling and lying, but don’t spew hatred. Speak respectfully and repeatedly, saying as an example “ I appreciate your thoughts and opinions, but I do not agree with you !” Then don’t get dragged into defending yourself as the other narcissistic or sociopathic personality type will surely try to convince you that you are wrong. Just repeat yourself !!! In this way you are respectfully expressing an opinion without feeling the guilt of being hateful or mean, thereby not triggering so much shame within yourself. I have had many a client who was a victim of emotional or sexual abuse, whose abuser would try to turn the shame and guilt machine on them big time by saying, “ See, you are feeling so much anger towards me right know, which makes you feel dark and ugly inside, so you are no better than me !”

So, think hard about this as the abuse may be more subtle, but it is still abuse when a person uses words to manipulate you. Don’t allow fear to rule your life, you deserve better than that.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
The Benhaven Group, LLC
www.RuledByFear
www.FearRulesYourLife.com

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Can You Teach Me to Become Fearless Again ?

by on Sep.22, 2014, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

I had not talked to her in at least two months. I had wanted to gradually break any dependency she had on me, because she finally had a family that loved her. Besides, I loathe dependency as it weakens the spirit, and causes a spiraling down-turn in one’s motivation, creativity and momentum to find one’s purpose in life, to be special.

Make no mistake, I am all for support and reliance on others as long as it is part of a plan to teach an individual how to help herself or himself. However, I see an ever-increasing desire on the part of some to create a dependency of others on them, all for the purpose of having control and power.

This is not a conspiracy theory, just one of those cycles in the history of mankind. Keep your eyes closed to this and you will find out the hard way.

If you are someone who has followed my blog over the years, then you might remember previous articles about this child who came to me for help when she was just ten years old. She was a homeless child, living in a cardboard refrigerator box, on the streets of “Gotham City”, having escaped the grasp of her prostitute mother and the certainty that she would be forced to settle for her mother’s life-style if she did not take her life into her own hands.

However, this was the real world, so although Joy [ her name of choice ] , had successfully separated from her mother , the following four years found her vulnerable to people of lesser conscience, who would emotionally, physically and sexually abuse her, because they could.

Working with her was so very rewarding for me, and yet very painful as I saw her relentless efforts to escape the almost daily reality of abuse that she had to endure. She seemed fearless and undaunted, maybe because in her eyes, she had no choice. This was survival. So if some guy at the bar offered her a meal for a feel, it was not who she was, but just what she had to go through. Through her eyes, miraculously, she saw every abuse as a motivator, as a stepping stone to finding a path off the streets and into the arms of a loving family. Many times I felt helpless as she
endured what I could not imagine at the hands of those whose selfishness and neediness would have destroyed the average child, or adult for that matter.

Once she was in a family, although not without complications, I found myself relieved but somewhat depleted, thus some time has passed since my last article. Then, last evening, she contacted me. After the usual chatting to catch up, this now fifteen year old said something that I found invigorating. ” Can you teach me become FEARLESS again ? ” Oh, she loved her new family for sure, but at the same time, she felt somewhat lazy and, listen carefully, DEPENDENT ! It was wonderful to have people looking out for you. It somehow felt good to have rules to follow and rewards for good behavior. It felt safe, and yet it didn’t, as she had become less reliant on her own skills to survive. Dependency can do that to the best of us.

We talked about her wanting to become a child advocate, a person who could teach others how to recognize and be less vulnerable to the manipulators, controllers, and in some cases, sociopathic types among us who prey on the perceived weakness of others. Now that was a discussion that I found motivating.

Do you long to be FEARLESS ?

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
The Benhaven Group, LLC
Blog: www.RuledByFear.com
www.PanicAttacks.com
www.ObsessiveCompulsive.com
www.RuledByShame.com
www.SelfEsteem.com
www.OneStepataTime.com

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Intrusive Mothers ?

by on Feb.10, 2014, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

Intrusive people are always the most difficult to deal with in our lives, but when it is a mother, it is especially anxiety producing.

By intrusive, I mean a person that does not have boundaries or respect those of others, and that certainly can apply to a mother or mother-in-law in their behavior towards their own adult children. Let’s say, a daughter and her husband return from a well-deserved night away from the kids only to find that her mother
re-arranged the living room furniture while she was babysitting, or decided the that she knew better how their pantry should be set-up. ” Surprise, I took the time to set up your kitchen the way it should to be done, I know you will love it ! ” Or the mother comes over bearing a gift of a flower arrangement in colors that she likes and then proceeds to tell her daughter what throw pillows she needs to buy to go along with the new color scheme. Get the picture ?

It gets much worse ! I have seen situations where mothers will openly criticize the relationship that their son or daughter has chosen or how the grandkids are being raised.
What makes is so very conflicting and bordering on abusive is when the mother tries to guilt, shame or blame the daughter every time she does not approve of what she has done.
This is not about giving loving suggestions, but more so controlling and manipulating

So while the daughter and her husband now have children of their own and want to establish a new Christmas morning tradition of opening the gifts as soon as the kids awake with all their enthusiasm at its peak, the mother expects the daughter and family to pack up everything, bundle up the kids and trek over to mom’s with gifts and diapers because that was the tradition. When the daughter tries to nicely say that they will come later but they want to establish their own traditions, or even suggests that the mother come early to see the kids come down the steps wide-eyed and filled excitement, the mother says, ” You can do that after I am gone. Do you want to break your mother’s heart. I won’t be around that much longer ! ”

Intrusive people are most often very insecure below the surface, very needy of attention and yes, selfish and feeling entitled. Instead of celebrating someone else’s happiness or personal growth, they want to re-establish their importance, secure their position of being special.

Lacking somewhat in empathy, but suggesting they are the picture of that quality, the intrusive mother has a warped awareness of the needs of others, and does not often recognize boundaries as her needs dominate.

I have watched many a young married adult go through much conflict, bouncing between guilt and anger in their attempts to set limits and boundaries with an intrusive parent. Not surpisingly, such conflict can bring on anxiety symptoms, including full-blown panic attacks.
What the adult child of an intrusive parent should do, no, what they must do , is set those boundaries firmly and lovingly…and be prepared to be persistent and consistent.

” I love you mom and I know you mean well, but that is not how my husband and I want to do things with our children. Please respect my boundaries. ” Then repeat this without trying to defend your position, as the more you say, the more the intrusive person will try to manipulate and control.
I tell my clients dealing with intrusive mothers not to expect this lesson to be learned long-term. Most often, one has to be prepared to express this mantra each time the intrusive mother even shows the slightest move to cross a boundary. Intrusive people tend to not understand or have much insight into the sabotaging behavior, so it is the consequences that they learn. So when the adult child of an intrusive parent speaks in respectful and consistent terms and follows-through, the intrusive person will more than likely come to change their behavior, not because she truly gets it, but because she cannot over-rule the daughter with blame, shame and guilt tactics. Now, if instead, the daughter becomes angry and shows that anger, she plays into the intrusive mother’s hands. The mother will surely blame, shame and guilt the the daughter for any outbursts and then take control, unless the daughter is also a similarly intrusive person. Then all bets are off and I am out of there !

You can, of course, apply this approach to dealing with any instrusive person, be it a co-worker, a friend, sibling or stranger. This is not easy, but the effects that an instrusive person can have on your life, marriage, children and self-esteem is real, and it is one of the most important lessons to learn about dealing with difficult people.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

Benhaven Counseling, LLC

The Benhaven Group, LLC

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com
On-Line Suppoort Group and Newsletter: www.OneStepataTime.com

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Why Panic ?

by on Jan.26, 2014, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

I have often said that one of the more challenging pieces of the puzzle that truly needs to be understood and dealt with is finding the source for the panic attacks a client is experiencing, although I fully realize that the primary focus of the client initially is just getting rid of these anxiety symptoms and being comforted by hearing that this is not a sign that he or she is going crazy. 

Not knowing the source, which amounts to not understanding why this is happening, leaves a person feeling vulnerable and out of control. Not surprisingly, feeling “out of control” is how most people explain how the symptoms make them feel. Medications may lessen the severity of anxiety symptoms, but the haunting thought of them returning is anxiety-producing in and of itself. ” What if the medications wear off or just stop working ?”

As the therapist, I focus intently of listening to my client, getting a feel not only for a peek into their personality and its needs, but also to pick up on bits and pieces of his or her history to see if I can identify emotional conflicts that are more often than not an indicator of the source of the PAs. At times the conflicts and issues are easy to pick up on as I listen not only to my clients words, but more so, the emotions behind the words. At times I meet a client that is harder to read, not because he or she is resistant, but because the client’s personality is such that they tend to habitually blow things off, minimize issues because they feel it is just how life is for them. It is what it is !

One such client came to me as he was obviously in significant emotional pain over having these anxiety symptoms and it was seriously effecting his performing his job. That was a problem, especially because he was a very high-achieving young man, and had responsibilities for a wife who wanted a family. He had to get his act together, but just did not see why this was happening to him.

I pressed him further, and although a rather modest guy, he had in past years created business of his own and had been quite successful. However, although he did well for five years making six-figures and garnering considerable respect in his field, his company was subjected to the fall-out from the banking and housing crisis and the banks stopped lending, and his business died a sudden death. He moved on, because that is what you are supposed to do, and took a significantly lower paying job just to be a responsible person. When his very successful business ended, he was able to pay all debts, so he did not feel guilty, or a failure. I could hear something in his voice, and when i asked him whether he thinks of starting another business since he had proven to be quite good at it, his response was, ” Well, I have thought about it many times, but now I have a wife and we do want to start a family. I cannot take that kind of risk. I mean, I would love to do it, but it would not be fair to her.  And besides, every time I allow myself to dream about starting a business again and being my own boss, the symptoms get worse. How can I seriously think of creating my own business again when I am having these anxiety symptoms ! ”

Now there is a hint that would slap you in the face unless you had your head buried deep in the sand. Once we talked about it, he realized how conflicted he was between giving up on himself as an entrepreneur, and doing what was “right” for his wife and future family. And when he heard himself say that the anxiety symptoms seemed to increase in frequency or intensity whenever he thought about starting a business again, I could see the look on his face that said, ” Did I just say that ? Could my anxiety symptoms be a way of keeping myself from doing what I really love to do, be my own boss again ?”

Oh yes, he got it ! So besides working with some tools we discussed to deal with the anxiety symptoms whenever he felt them coming on, he realized that his best weapon against anxiety was to focus on the source. He needed to make a compromise rather than a sacrifice, a deal with himself to develop a plan and gradually create and take steps to build his business, but step by step so there was less risk.  His wife could be a part of his business. He was in conflict because he was giving up on a very critical piece of who he was and is, instead of focusing on doing what he wants and needs to do to feel in control of his life, but taking appropriate steps in palatable bites rather than leaps as he did when he had no other responsibilities.

What about you ?

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Benhaven Counseling, LLC

The Benhaven Group, LLC

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com

Newsletter and On-Line Support Group: www.OneStepataTime.com

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Challenge Your Fears or Settle

by on Jan.20, 2014, 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

The Benhaven Group

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com

On-Line Support Group / Newsletter : www.OneStepataTime.com

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Feels So Good, Hurts So Bad !

by on Dec.01, 2013, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

You know what I mean by an “adapting” personality, don’t you. I am referring to those caregivers, conformers, perfectionsists and peacekeepers who value relationships with others, who bend, adapt and adjust in an effort to please others because, well maybe it just feels good to do so.

At least at the time it feels good because they treasure the approval, appreciation and possibly respect that they ‘hope’ to glean form being there for others. While many may rush to say they have great empathy for others, the adapting personality types truly do, but at some risk to their emotional well-being. They probably make up a third of all the people walking on the face of this diverse planet we call Earth.

So often however, many of the adapting personalities come to the slow and troubling realization that they put out a great deal of emotional energy into others, where the return on that emotional investment seems
to lessen, to dwindle, to be taken for granted over time. See, many of these adapting personalities are truly dependent, dare I say compulsive in needing that approval from others, to feel worth and value. The role of being there for others, fixing or taking care of those they perceive as in need, being so very productive and maybe avoiding emotional conflict becomes their goal, a primary purpose in life.

When the adapting personality types wake up to anxiety symptoms, even panic attacks, it is often a reaction to the realization that they have invested so much energy into being there for others,
needing that approval like the body needs blood, that they feel emotionally bankrupt, spent and depleted. Sometimes there is resentment and anger felt towards those whom they feel have taken advantage of all those efforts without reciprocating, but mostly they are frustrated and in conflict for allowing this to happen. Adapting personalities certainly do not want to appear needy, and they are not ! Adapting persons do not want to seem selfish or uncaring and they certainly do not want to be seen as angry, but let’s face it, if you put out more emotional energy than you take
in, someone is going to crash !

In fact, I see many of the adapting personalities in my work, and our joint efforts in therapy come down to helping them realize they can still be who they are, still enjoy being adapting and caring, but with a twist.
They learn to make better choices in those they call friends by identifying and setting well-defined boundaries with the ‘ blood suckers ” in their world, and yet, reasonable and more porous boundaries with those who appreciate, respect and return some of the energy.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist / Coach

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Why We Fail ?

by on Oct.28, 2013, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

While talking with members in our on-line Support Group at www.OneStepataTime.com last evening, it was obvious that while some had been making great progress in facing their fears and taking control of panic attacks, others were predictably stuck, unable to make significant progress.

Why do I say “ predictably “ stuck ? They were, in fact, so fearful of feeling any anxiety symptoms that there could be no progress. Now, some of the same individuals had made some progress in the past, where once housebound or equally paralyzed by their panic symptoms, they were now able to at least function within a small limited radius of their homes. Please, make no mistake, I am thrilled that they have learned some skills that allowed them to break free of some of their self-imposed paralysis, but they were again stuck, far below their potential and their desires to do more with their lives.

Why ? Because, in my opinion, they were motivated earlier to stretch because they felt they had little choice. They could have lost their jobs and any chance of a productive life, so the need to take steps forward was greater than the fear of symptoms. So, they did stretch enough to create a somewhat bigger comfort zone, one that was at least more tolerable. THEY DID SO, ONE STEP AT A TIME and usually while being guided by a therapist. But then, they fell into that thought pattern where that little voice said that was enough, they were comfortably-uncomfortable. Not yet where they really wanted to be, but better than they were, and besides, the more you do, the more people expect of you !

However, for others, they could put off pushing forward because….well, because they could. Maybe living at home with parents or having a spouse that worked, they could rationalize avoiding what needed to be done just a while longer, which sadly only weakens the chances for success. Maybe the idea of going on Disability was presented to them by weary family members or a frustrated therapist or primary care physician.

One primary issue that I stressed rather firmly last evening was that they were all still more focused on how they felt, on avoiding anxiety symptoms, and were still missing the greater issue, the true source for their anxieties. The majority of these individuals, and truly most of my clients, never allowed themselves to focus on why they were having panic attacks in the first place. There is, in almost all cases, a reason. After forty years in practice, and after resolving my own issues and panic attacks, I still see panic attacks as a reaction. A person has to look at their lives and see that when the anxiety symptoms first manifested, as easy as it is to focus entirely on how horrible the symptoms feel, there was something being experienced, some real issues or conflicts being denied or avoided, that stimulated the panic and got the ball rolling down hill.

One only needs to look at the conflicts that come with dealing with people, especially for those personalities that are more adapting and approval seeking, yes dependent on approval to feel worth and value, and perceive themselves as inadequate in conflicting situations. One of the individuals in group last evening said, upon reflection, “I was always a door mat “. So we learn to avoid ! And just how vulnerable and at risk does a person feel when they perceive a habit of avoiding ??? Avoidance causes us to not trust ourselves, it weakens our resolve and brings on more avoidance.

Therapy must focus on not only facing the anxiety symptoms and places one avoids because of panic attacks, but realize that the real issue is that there is an underlying pattern of avoidance when it comes to conflicting issues in our life, and that usually means even as a child or adolescent.

Listen please: There is no quick fix or ten easy steps. It is a commitment to hard work and soul-searching under the guidance of a therapist well-experienced in the area of panic attacks someone who really gets it !

I invite anyone reading this to join us in our free Support Group on Sunday evenings, at 9 PM ET.

I am including instructions to Join www.OneStepataTime.com and to enter the Support Group below.

If you are in therapy and do not feel you are making progress, you might discuss some of what I have shared above with your therapist.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist / Coach
dba, The Benhaven Group. LLC

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com

Private Practice: www.BenhavenCounseling.com

Instructions for using OneStepataTime.com website and Chat Room for Support Groups:

Our On-Line Support Groups, 9 pm, ET, every Sunday evening. Come Join us !!!

If you are serious about making some needed CHANGES in your life, STOP AVOIDING and JOIN US….

First, Go to : www.OneStepataTime.com

Join and become a member…It’s Free and Anonymous !

For returning visitors, If you do not remember your ID and Password to enter the web site at www.OneStepataTime.com you can sign up again for a new basic free membership.

Sunday Evenings at 9 PM ET, will be entirely devoted to provide SUPPORT services for ALL members. This time will be used to answer questions, share experiences and discuss both progress made and challenges experienced as each of you confront your symptoms. Psychologist, Gene Benedetto will moderate this Support Group.

How to Log-on to Chat Software

You will need to use either Mozilla Firefox, Chrome or Safari to use the chat room since Internet Explorer will not support the Chat Server.

Once you are a Basic Free Member and want to enter the Support Group on line, here are the steps you should take.

Log on to our site at www.OneStepataTime.com using Firefox, Chrome or Safari.

Sign in using your User ID and Password

Click on Support Group

Click on Enter. You will now see a log in page for the Chat Room.

DO NOT click on “Login as Member”. You will “Log in as Guest”

Enter a User ID…whatever you want to be seen as, [no password is needed]

The Chat Blazer Sign-in page will load and you will see your choice of Support Group and Private Coaching Room and Workshop Room.
Highlight the Support Group…and you are in!!!!

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Fear Grows in an Atmosphere of Avoidance

by on Aug.18, 2013, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

Personal Growth comes only when we stretch, explore and challenge our own personal status quo. Many of us do not realize how much time we spend AVOIDING options or choices to grow, as avoidance can become a habit as it is often the result backing down from fear, which in turn leads to a feeling of weakness and self-doubt, leading to more avoidance.

Some may just be lucky that they are either “wired” for success or grew up in an atmosphere that nurtured the idea of taking risks to grow and not be as  vulnerable to the fears of failure, rejection, ridicule or embarrassment. But then, there ate others whose early years were so fraught with challenges that they used all their mental energy to escape being ever again so vulnerable to fear. Don’t we marvel at the person who, against all odds, comes through life so motivated to take on challenges and build empires ? In some ways, these individuals were forced by the dark side of life, and some of the darker people they came up against to see evidence that they could persevere, that they were witness to the fact that what they did to survive demonstrated an inner strength. That inner strength created a momentum that was hard to stop, as they were not ruled by fear.

Then there are the rest of us mere mortals, good people all in all, from loving families, maybe somewhat over-protected and under-challenged. We may not be Supermen or Wonder-Women but we CAN ACHIEVE GREAT THINGS if we can escape our fearful thoughts, which although often meant to protect, most frequently detour many of our efforts to grow outside what is comfortable,  leaving us comfortably-uncomfortable.

So how do we achieve great things when up against our fearful thoughts, and the self-doubt ?
First, we might recognize that many of the anxiety symptoms, panic attacks, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors we experience might just be a reaction to feeling trapped in our so-called comfortable lives. When we give into our fears and avoid, we feel a sense of inner weakness, a feeling of not quite being in control of our lives. Could that feeling possibly trigger an anxiety reaction, which then in itself creates more of a sense of being out of control, just maybe ? But once truly recognized and with a carefully laid out plan, we can step by step, with a support team around us, begin to challenge our fears.

The following are comments from a client who has experienced significant anxiety in the form of Obsessive- Compulsive symptoms but has begun to seriously explore why he was having these anxiety symptoms that all but paralyzed him in his life. He asked that I share what he has experienced as he talks himself through his fearful and sabotaging thoughts :

” I hate this job ! I think this is a euphemism for I hate myself for being in this job. 

Whoa, let’s look at reality ! I am disappointed that I am not doing more to change my situation, but that is no reason to hate myself. Besides, I am now taking steps. They might not seem like much, but they are steps. I am taking a class this Fall to give myself a bit of a challenge and get my feet wet. I am starting to read a Calculus textbook to refresh myself. I am making plans to contact a past college professor, to see if he has any suggestions on how I can achieve my new goal of teaching at the college level.

I am the one who is living my life. If I am not happy then I should do whatever I can to make myself happy. If others do not approve, are skeptical or negative about what I want to do to make myself happy, then I need to realize that while I am sorry they feel that way, it is my life, my happiness that I need to pursue, not theirs.  So they can either help or get out of my way. If they cannot be supportive, I must go around them as they are symbols of the fears and negative thoughts that I have allowed to hold me back.

I am intelligent. I am capable. I care about people. I can do this !!! ”

It is hard work, but aren’t you worth the effort to do more of what you are capable of doing with your life  ?  The more you avoid, the more conflict you feel within yourself, the angrier or more frustrated you become. You need reasonable goals with reasonable steps, and then allow each step to motivate you to the next move. 

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Benhaven Counseling, LLC

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com

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That Look of Being Overwhelmed and Trapped !

by on Jun.23, 2013, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

It caught me off-guard at first when I saw that look in his eyes. I have seen that look before with many a client when they feel overwhelmed with anxiety, panic attacks or obsessive thoughts. They think there is something seriously wrong with their minds, like they are having a  “breakdown” or “going crazy”. So I am no stranger to that look, that anguish written all over their faces. But this was not a patient, but one of the physicians that I have worked with for years. We have collaborated with many a patient/client, but I had never seen this look of fear and frustration on HIS face before. I had gone to his office as I had done many times before, just to touch base, share what we were trying to do to better serve his patients and have a quick cup of coffee with him and his fellow docs. It had been a while since my last visit because we had been so busy dealing with changes in the health care system.

I knew what the problem was immediately. But within seconds he expressed what he was feeling. He, like many professional caregivers I know and work with, was feeling overwhelmed and trapped in his medical practice, a career that he worked so hard to create and develop. He was one of those docs that would sit a few minutes to catch up with his patients, knew their kids names, and always had a pretty good idea what was going on in their lives. It was a family practice much like my own father had, where you knew your patients well enough to spot problems even when the patient hadn’t said anything yet. Yes, there was a time when physicians and therapists built a professional relationship with their patients. That time is slipping away. Actually, it is pretty much gone already.
Now, as hospitals gobble up physicians practices and Obamacare is beginning to take hold, these healing professionals are being dictated to as to how they must run their practices. They are being told to spend two to ten minutes with a patient and move on to the next, make less outside referrals because those are costly, and of course, create an Electronic Record of each session. Really ??? That makes one feel all warm and fuzzy when they visit their caregiver. Somehow the doctor is to find out all he needs to diagnose and treat you in ten minutes, really connect with you,  and make sure to type his notes regarding that diagnosis and treatment into a permanent record that can be stored in a “cloud” somewhere that is certainly safe and secure. I mean who would ever want to hack into a system that contains all your health information ? I am sure our government will take every step to assure the safe keeping of all that vital information !!!  And of course, the IRS will be handling Obamacare, so not to worry ! It makes many of us Caregivers sick to see where healthcare is going….excuse me, has gone.
I stopped at another office of physicians I work with and the story was the same. The only difference was that MY primary care physician had recently left the practice to set up a solo practice where he will take no insurance and will limit the number of patients he will see. He will be available 24/7 for that limited number of people and will serve their needs for a flat fee each year.
The only relief I felt was when I thought about the fact that I already signed up as a member of his practice. Now that I am a senior, and seeing on the inside what is happening to Health Care in our Country, I need to take steps to make sure I get quality care when I go to my primary care doctor’s office, and that my care is a private issue between my doctor and myself. Is it so hard to imagine that when you get older, some Secretary of Health and Human Services or some panel of bean-counters will decide that maybe I am too old for that treatment option? It’s coming people…..it’s here !
That’s Big Government….CONTROL….and they have such a good record of self-policing and security and of course ethical behavior.  Right ? WAKE UP !

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Lack of action on our part gives them all the POWER they need.
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
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