When Fear Rules !

Tag: anger

Fear Can Be Deadly !

by on Jun.09, 2013, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

Fear rules much of our lives whether we will admit it or not. The more we are aware of our fears, and challenge them every day, the more we take back control of our lives.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when we are afraid of the light.” Plato

Fear is ever present at one level or another. We can fear failing, rejection, embarrassment, or abandonment and that fear can paralyze us. I have witnessed many a good person be anxious or depressed because they have not lived a dream, met a challenge, or experienced more of what they are capable of because fear froze them in their tracks.

Often, we will spend much time rationalizing and justifying that whatever we avoided was not that important, but in our private moments and deepest thoughts, we are angered or frustrated with ourselves for shrinking in the face of fear.
While I have had the privilege of being part of helping many a client overcome their fears and see a fuller life, there are those who give up because past life experiences have all but trashed any splinter of trust and belief in themselves that they can change.

” Be not a slave to your past- plunge into the seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with new self-respect, with new power, and with advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the most voracious and paralyzing forms of fear that I have witnessed has been as a result of a person becoming the victim  of another who has designs to manipulate and control her or him. When persons of little or no conscience, guided by their own private agendas, are able to rationalize emotionally, physically or sexually abusing an unexpecting victim, the results are devastating and life-altering. Feeling like damaged-goods, and laden with shame and guilt, where does the victim find the strength ? To take steps to challenge and bring the abuser to justice takes superior courage and a very special need for a support system of caring persons.

When offending person or persons are openly hostile, as in the case of a rape, the difficulties of coping and mending one’s life are very difficult, but when the manipulative person or persons are more subtle, take time to build trust, and slowly weaken their subjects by finding their weaknesses and using that knowledge to shame or guilt their victims, the effects are shattering and everlasting. Victims of such malicious and calculated abuse and manipulation tend to blame themselves for being so weak, vulnerable and naive, and often their abusers will use awareness of even those feelings to further sabotage their victims chances to hold them accountable.

I am just beginning to write a book about such a case, hoping to teach potential victims how to recognize and protect themselves. It has taken me five plus years to get past the anger and helplessness I experienced being a witness to such a tragedy. I hope to share snippets with you as I proceed. Fear can be deadly !

Gene Benedetto PsychologistThe Benhaven Group, LLC
Blog: http://www.RuledByFear.com

Fear Rules !

Fear Rules !

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” Let No Crisis Go to Waste “

by on Apr.15, 2013, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

I was watching a video this morning where a guy was walking along some boardwalk in California asking those who passed by to sign his petition. He openly exaggerated what he was saying to get the attention of his audience.

He asked them to sign a petition to eliminate the Second Amendment altogether and allow the government to go house to house confiscating ALL guns from law abiding citizens, but to let the bad guys have their guns so that the police can take care of them in their own way. People just signed the petition, one after another as if he was asking them if they wanted free ice cream .The more he repeated and embellished on his words, the more the people seemed to just turn him off, sign and be on their way.

To test his theory out further that so many people just do not care even to know what they are signing, he proposed another issue. With clipboard in hand, he asked each person to sign a petition to ask that ” inflation be allowed to go up to 100%”. Again, people signed without a question asked.
If that is where we are in our society, that so many of us are so lost in our own little worlds that we are unaware, or just don’t care, then we are truly in self-destruct mode. Are we that numb ? Are we that lost in our own space ?
 

So, it should not be surprising that so many who make up the decision making ranks of our government, both Democrat and Republican politicians alike, have become liars, manipulators and abusers of  the very people they serve. Yes, I did say abusers, because they use shame and guilt to manipulate us to see things their way, to do their bidding, a tactic I have seen all too often when I deal with children or young woman who have been emotionally, sexually or physically abused. 

Our Congressmen, Senators, and yes even our President promise everything under the sun, knowing that what they offer may be impossible to deliver, but also having the realization that we as a people have become weak, lazy or believe there is nothing we can say or do that will make a difference. They are cunning, these master politicians, and they know human nature. They have come to see us as weak and as easy victims to prey upon.

“No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.” ― John F. Kennedy

I cringe when I hear speeches that are meant to instill guilt and shame, when no real solutions are put forth because sometimes there are no real solutions. Bad people will do bad things ! No matter what we do, no laws, no programs will create a utopia. There will be bad people who do evil because of their own dark issues and needs. There are people who, although they are capable of contributing to our society, feel entitled to be taken care of, and be depenndent. Nothing we do will change that.

Have you really seen any government program that does not wreak of corruption and fraud ? Look at how we treat our Vets. Look at the scams that openly cheat and defraud our Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security Retirement systems. Look at how many more people each day come to be able to JUSTIFY scamming the system. 

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Rahm Emanuel


Our government should be consciously and tirelessly cleaning up and making the present programs work before creating new programs. Instead, CRISES are used to pass bills and laws and create even more programs where, even in writing these grand proposals, there is manipulation and hidden agendas at play. PORK is added to most bills to benefit politicians in their respective states so that they can guarantee to please those who will vote them back into POWER. Politicians do what they do in so many cases in order to secure their own power and positions. 


{ “Power tends to corrupt,” said Lord Acton, the 19th-century British historian. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” His maxim has been vividly illustrated in psychological studies, notably the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, which was halted when one group of students arbitrarily assigned to serve as “prison guards” over another group began to abuse their wards.}

I expend much energy each day as a Psychologist attempting to help people discover and find the inner strength to stand up for what they think, feel and desire to do with their lives. I see first hand how destructive it is when good people are made dependent . That dependency weakens them, causes them to not seek their dreams, and in the end become angry with themselves that they avoided all they wished at one time to accomplish in their lives.  

True happiness comes when a person feels self-respect for what they think, feel and do with their lives. Facing challenges strengthens self-esteem and encourages more personal growth. People need JOBS and OPPORTUNITIES, not handouts. But at the same time, like a spoiled child, promise them everything, throw them a few free toys, and they become victims of the entitlement generation. Just wait until they face the consequences of their dependency ! I think many of our politicians know exactly what they are doing. So forgive me when I say that it is absolutely deplorable to see my fellow man, or woman manipulated by others for their own gain. 

We must be accountable to ourselves for the decisions we make and the directions our lives take. However, when you give power to the people who govern our society, your job has just begun. The hard part is making certain that you make each politician accountable to the people he or she serves. We have acquiesced so much control to our government officials, and yes, we have become lazy at calling them to task for their mischievous behaviors. Like children, they must be reigned in and made to face consequences for their use and abuse of power.

This problem is enormous and is not going away. Whether the issue is Watergate, abhorrent “sexual” antics in the Oval Office, or the Benghazi debacle, if we do not hold their feet to the fire, the politicians we empower will rule us rather than serve us !

“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of r elinquishing it.” ― George Orwell1984


Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Benhaven Counseling
Blog: www.RuledByFear.com
Newsletter and On-Line Support Group :www. OneStepataTime.comhttp://www.dreamstime.com/-image21331338

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Intrusive Thoughts Paralyze

by on Mar.17, 2013, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

I spend much of my time as a therapist helping people who have Intrusive Thoughts, where a person obsesses over something, often an irrational thought, to the point that it can paralyze them from getting anything meaningful done for hours if not days.

For some, the focus of their thoughts is on some health issue, and most often not an actual physical issue they are dealing with but one they fear might arise. Every ache or pain triggers the fear of something more serious lurking around the corner.

Others find themselves spending vast amounts of their energy avoiding germs, not necessarily because they have had some disease, but they experience this urge, this unexplainable need to wash their hands repeatedly, or to shower multiple times before they feel comfortable enough to move on.

Still others find themselves checking their work over and over for fear that there is something they are missing that could lead to a disaster, failure or rejection.

A person can find himself obsessing over anything and then compulsively needing to carry out some repetitive behavior like checking, reorganizing and repeating some behavior while his day is passing him by. The nature of the thoughts and the resulting rituals know no boundaries, but they can be paralyzing.

If you have not experienced a form of obsessive-compulsive behavior, you may think it odd that others do. Certainly, some individuals who do find themselves trapped in the endless pattern of obsessing and carrying out rituals are the butt of jokes and sitcoms. But the reality is, many people suffer from this anxiety disorder and it is quite emotionally painful.

Having had a turn at obsessive-compulsive behaviors of my own,  I enjoy working with these individuals in therapy, because I understand them. Of course I find them intelligent and truly wanting to find an avenue to control their thoughts and rituals. They are most often driven to find answers. There are most often sensitive, empathetic, adapting and caring people.

But what I also find is that they are people who have experienced emotional  conflicts in their lives, where they are caught between doing what they feel they should, what is expected of them versus doing what they want, what is personally satisfying. It might be a child  experiencing her first taste of rejection at the hands of a new student that she attempted to befriend, only to find the new friend bad-talking her to others. It might be an adolescent experiencing normal sexual urges but also being sensitive to what he has been taught about being responsible and respectful, what is right and wrong. Does he follow his basic urges, does he experiment and take risks ?  It might be a young man raised in a perfectionistic environment where he feels nothing he does is good enough, yet he gives up being a child to do all he can to please his parents’ expectations.

Emotional  conflicts often cause much frustration and anger, but the emotions are suppressed for fear of rejection. Suppressed emotions can do harm.

Conflict and conflicting emotions, especially anger, tends to create a sense of not being in control. Anger especially can ramp up ones brain chemistry so the person has strange feelings, even panic attacks. Not feeling in control, and not understanding the emotional turmoil that is brewing below the surface only adds to those feeling of not being in control.

This is when the person may find himself having intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, momentary yet irrational thoughts leading to an urge to carry out some ritual, some compulsive behavior. Carrying out the compulsive behavior may give some relief, create a sense that ‘If I do this, I will feel better “, thus creating a temporary sense of control. Then  the compulsive behavior becomes a habit.

When a client is willing to do the work to uncover the emotional conflicts, and also make some changes in how they deal with issues and people in their lives, they can in fact learn to challenge and take control of their intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. The trick is to be able to guide the client to see the true causes and triggers, and offer the needed support while steps are taken to face changes. What these people need most of all is understanding and support. If you know someone with OCD, remember that !

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Newsletter and Support Group : www.OneStepataTime.com
Blog: www.RuledByFear.com
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Broken Merry Go Round

by on Feb.10, 2013, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

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

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

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

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

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LetsSingIt – Your favorite Music Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How about you ?

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

Benhaven Counseling

Blog: RuledByFear.com

On-Line Support Group: OneStepataTime.com

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The Dumbing Down of America ?

by on Dec.16, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

 

I have the pleasure and satisfaction of working every day to help Individuals identify the conflicts and issues that are blocking them from discovering and doing what they want with their lives, what might bring them a greater sense of worth, value and a sense of meaning and purposefulness.

 

In most cases, that means that they must 1]  identify the negative thoughts and fears that have detoured their previous efforts, and 2] set up reasonable goals with specific behavioral steps that can show them that they CAN, in fact,  achieve, grow and flourish.

 

If they just give themselves the chance to face their fears in palatable bites, then after frequent and consistent exposure to those fears, they can desensitize, neutralize or become numb to those fears. Once they see that they can face the anxiety that comes with taking steps and making changes, they will realize that they can survive and thrive. A momentum  develops, that if nurtured by a healthy support system, can lead them to their personal goals and a change in how they perceive themselves. This process is exciting to watch, and I admit, is very fulfilling for me.

 

However, I also look around and see desensitization working  in reverse. We are exposed to things in advertising, politics and day to day life where lies and fabrications, or at best stretching of the truth becomes common-place. After repeated exposure, we may become numb to the lies and deceit, and just hear what we want to hear.

An alarming number of good people in our society have become weakened by the barrage of deceitful, manipulative games and controlling techniques at the hands of those with less conscience and selfish agendas. It is a sad thing to see the Dumbing Down of America, where so few have so much power over so many because we have become so comfortable, so desensitized to the  way it has become. In an increasing number of situations, even if we are aware of the loss of morality, ethics, and our growing dependence on others, on corporations, even our government and political parties, we say or do nothing. Many have come to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities in our society, but have lost the fire in the belly to speak up, fight for that independence, and work hard for what they want. And sadly, a growing number have come to feel entitled.

 

Maybe we have all become more adapting and lazy people, so as a result, we are lambs whose minds can  easily be taken over and led by those who would control and manipulate for their own gains.

We have become so used to life as it has been, that we cannot imagine, nor even consider what it takes to maintain and nurture those freedoms. With the exception of those who have fought our wars, gone through the Great Depression, or survived the Holocaust, how would we know what it is like to be without freedom and independence ?. Oh, we hear of suffering in other countries with dictators and sociopathic leaders, but we do not see what we can become without vigilance and action.

 

Dependence breeds weakness. A sense of entitlement leads to a point at which a person feels less worth and value, or pride in their achievements. Then, what comes next ? I fear more and more people will become angry with themselves as their personal pride diminishes, but they may blame others for their plight. Without the pride of personal achievement, self-esteem atrophies, and one’s moral and ethical fiber weakens. This is not a pretty picture !

 

Just a Thought !

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Benhaven Counseling
Blog: RuledByFear.com
On-Line Support Group: OneStepataTime.com
www.Facebook.com/groups/RuledByFear

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Neutralizing Negative People !

by on Nov.25, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

 

Let me begin with a short note I received from a client who is trying with all her might to free herself from anxiety that had a all but made her a prisoner of her home. As we were talking about her progress, she expressed how even a hopeful day and good mood as a result of her efforts to fight off her anxiety and fears could so easily be destroyed by the negative comments of a bitter relative. My response to her note follows

Dear Coach,

It can be hard not letting the harsh comments of others bother us. Even when we might be doing better at something or when we feel a little better about ourselves than usual, a negative comment can seem to change that and make us go from feeling okay to horrible. For example, over Thanksgiving, I did pretty well with dealing with anxiety and yet when a mean comment was thrown in my direction, I got upset. I had never really voiced to this person how I felt about his comments and I just kind of blew up.

 

I knew on some level that I shouldn’t have gotten so upset and I realized that since I was doing better, I should have just ignored what he had said. However, between wanting my relative to know how I felt and being frustrated, I got mad.

 

I was told by a therapist { aka, Coach }, and I think it was very good advice, that it’s okay to be sensitive. We can also stand up for ourselves without getting defensive. All we have to do in some cases, is to say that we understand that the person feels that way and we can continue on. If you’re in an argument that you can’t win, why not throw the other person off-guard and not yell back like they want or just give up? Instead, make that person realize that for some reason he is always the one yelling. Maybe then he will realize why he comes-off sometimes as harsh or mean. Again, you can be sensitive, just don’t let others manipulate you because of it. Be strong without adding to the conflict.

 

B.G.

Dear B.G.,

 
I have been stressing to you in therapy that to overcome your anxiety and panic attacks, you must both face the fears of having more anxiety and panic attacks through step by step desensitzation, as well as face the conflicts that were the CAUSE for your anxiety in the first place.

 

One of the most common causes for the more serious anxiety symptoms like panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive behavior is that something is happening in your life that is causing you to feel emotionally conflicted, overwhelmed and even angry, but you feel I’ll-equipped to deal with that situation, which is either a person or situation in your life. Of course, the situations usually include people, so we might as well face the fact that it is our perceived inability to deal with people-conflict that is a huge stimulus for severe anxiety. These conflicts leave one feeling helpless, ” out of control ” , and feeling weak which is very destructive to our self-esteem.

 

Faced with difficult people, or people with selfish agendas,  tends to set one off on an arduous path, a struggle between the want to avoid possible rejection or failure, the want and maybe need for approval versus the desire to be able to express what WE really feel, what we want, not selfishly, but in some reasonable manner so as to not harm or take away from someone else’s sense of worth and value.

 

When we do find ourselves avoiding self-expression, our self-esteem takes a hit which thereby decreases the chances of making positive changes in our lives. Avoidance leads to sense of having little worth and value and seriously undermines development of goals and the strength to take steps towards those goals.
Anger and resentment are often the result, but those powerful emotions, although normal at some levels, become more intense as they have been repressed for years. That abundance of repressed anger and resentment, much of it with ourselves for avoiding and being weak, and the emotional turmoil they wreak within our minds and bodies, can lead to more fear. What if those repressed emotions ever come to the surface ? Will we act out in some manner that demonstrates just how ‘out of control’ we truly are ?  Just more conflict heaped on conflict. All this can be paralyzing especially for people who are sensitive, approval seeking and yet yearning to grow personally in their lives.

 

So, I have suggested to you that rather than feel you have to go toe-to-toe with a parent, relative or friend, defending your past actions and inactions, that you instead :

 

1] Focus on the steps you ARE now taking to be more in control of your life;

 

2] When actually faced by one of the aforementioned persons, especially if they are being critical, prepare yourself to say, ” Uncle Joe, I appreciate and respect you having opinions as to my life and my progress, but I am taking steps to be more in control of my life. I understand that you may look at things differently, but in my heart, I know I am making progress ! ” and then …

 

3] No matter what response you receive in return, do not fall into the trap of defending yourself. Remind yourself again that you have set goals and you can see that you are taking measurable steps to overcome your fears and anxiety. Then, just repeat steps 1 and 2 .

 

If the other person persists, then follow up with, ” I am trying to be respectful towards you and I would hope you could do the same, but I am not comfortable discussing this any further with you at this time. ”

 

Now, let’s focus on practicing these techniques and using these tools to neutralize difficult people !

 

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist / Coach

 

Benhaven Counseling.com

 

On-Line Support Group: www.OneStepataTime.com

 

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com

 

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/groups/RuledByFear

 

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Escaping Negative Thoughts

by on Nov.04, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Unless you were one of the lucky ones, you learned fears during your childhood that remain active today if you actually listen to your private thoughts.

I was talking with a client recently who, in my opinion, has been putting some significant but inconsistent effort into controlling his anxiety and panic attacks as well as his obsessive-compulsive behaviors [OCD}.

Now, what do we mean by obsessive-compulsive behaviors ? Actually, they are very common, although differing in frequency and certainly intensity, where an individual finds himself feeling an urge to carry out some ritualistic behavior, repeating that behavior to a point that it can be disruptive in his life. I see people suffering from this type of anxiety reaction every day. One person may find himself giving in to the urge to check over his tax return over and over, even though no errors were found. Another might have spilled some cleaning substance on their hands and then found herself washing her hands and arms, repeating the action even when her hands became chapped and bleeding. Then maybe a child feels an urge to say good-night and blow a kiss to each of her more than one hundred stuffed animals before she can go to sleep at night, only to find herself having to repeat the process for over two hours for fear she missed one of her precious inanimate friends.

These rituals can take over one’s life to one degree or another, but are responses to inner conflict that is often hidden to others, and even unknown or unrecognized by the client. My experience is that the conflicts are just below the surface but are issues the person may just not feel able to deal with, thus is consciously or subconsciously avoiding.

The client I was talking with came to realize that his OCD, which had grown in power and was ruling much of his life, was a reaction to conflict. There was an inner desire to do more with his life and escape the shadow cast by his family tree,a history of depression, negativity, avoidance and regret. He came to realize that most of his anxiety was due to the personally painful reality that he had and was avoiding making needed changes in his life. His negative thoughts and fears were echoing through his mind, but more importantly were and still are the habitual thoughts of his past and especially his parents whose lives were ruled by fear.

He could catch himself in his private thoughts saying “I’m not smart enough !”, or ” Who do I think I am, that I could do something special with my life ? “. He had also become vividly aware  through introspection triggered in part by therapy,  that these were the thoughts based on fears of rejection and failure, that he had been taught by his mother. Even recently, when he discussed possibly looking for a another job that was more challenging and he could feel some passion over, his mother, backed by other family members, said ” Just be happy you have a job !”

This client had taken some steps to challenge his fears. He did at one point go back to school to take course he was very interested in, and from that experience, learned that he was not stupid. He was able to master the material, and in fact thrived in that class and others and was actuallycalled upon by the teacher to share more of his thoughts with the class. He found himself actually tutoring others who were struggling more with the classes subject matter. It was very esteeming for him. So, that should have turned his life around, right ? In fact, his obsessive-compulsive behavior was down significantly. He really felt great about the stretching he was doing. However, due to changes with his present but boring job, he was distracted from continuing his course work. His efforts were very positive, but the reality was that once he stopped stretching, he fell back into the gravitational pull of his past negative thoughts, and his family history of self-defeatism. He lost that momentum he had begun by stretching outside his comfort zone.

Now he realizes what happened, that it takes frequent and consistent exercising of one’s energies to escape the gravity of the past.  Just as it does with physical exercise, where muscle turns to flab when the exercise stops, his efforts to challenge his fears worked, but needed to become part of his life, not a past chapter.

So, now he is beginning to edit the book that is the story of his life. Armed with the awareness of what he did, and therefore what he COULD DO, he is working to create an ongoing momentum, one that he must nurture through repeated  experiences that will desensitize him to his fears and emboldenhim to persevere.

How much are you ruled by fear ? How often do you hear yourself uttering or thinking something sabotaging, that shuts you down and causes you to avoid ? Where did you learn fear and avoidance ?

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

Benhaven Counseling

Blog: RuledByFear.com

Free Sunday Eve On-Line Support Group : OneStepataTime.com

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Being Manipulated !

by on Oct.28, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

What would you feel if you realized you had been manipulated, controlled or used by another person ?

What if that person is someone you trusted, believed in and hoped was different, maybe even looked up to as a hero ?

 

Would you feel angry, sad, hurt or maybe ashamed and embarrassed ?

 

I have worked with so many clients who are victims of such manipulation and I admit it frustrates me and even angers me, and makes me sad when I see how it affects them. It is painful to see their pain.

 

I have  always been focused on helping people find their voice, learn to speak their mind and set boundaries to protect themselves from people who would take advantage of their trusting and adapting natures.

 

However, that focus turned into a passion a few years ago when I lost a twenty year old client to suicide. I had worked with her for two years but I was never able to convince her to take steps to press charges against her father who was always her hero, but had turned into an abusive man, physically, sexually and emotionally molesting her body and her spirit. Yes, he was a narcissistic sociopath, but she refused to see that.  She trusted and believed in him so much, and prayed that he would return to being her loving hero of a dad. I was so angry, that it took almost two years for me to be able to talk about it without choking-up.

 

Admittedly since then, that passion has become somewhat of an obsession that has caused me to react more strongly and openly  to any form of manipulation of one person by another, especially when the manipulator is obvious in his or her efforts to establish a trust, a bond only to use it as a means to take control for their own private agenda.

 

Lately, with all the political debates and advertisements flooding the airwaves, I found myself feeling some of that anger, feeling that inner turmoil as I watched what was another form of manipulation and control happening to many good people in our great nation. I have heard lies, name calling, character assassination, and open efforts to portray good people as evil and campaign ads that are obviously edited to promote what they want us to believe and distract us from the truth.

 

” It’s just politics” they say ! Really ? Do you really believe the words and promises or just WANT TO so much that you close your mind to the painful truth. It is manipulation ! It is an effort to say anything necessary, promise hope and change, create a dependency all in order to fulfill their agendas. It is a degrading but true picture of what has become of our countries moral compass. It is becoming the norm, almost as if it is acceptable.

 

I hope more people recognize what is happening and find their voice. We are not sheep, but we are being led down a path that is self-destructive.

 

As a people, we should definitely be there to help others who are sick or injured and cannot work. Those who have worked their whole lives deserve “reasonable” benefits. But the ever growing numbers of people who are able to justify living off the system when there is no reason other than the fact THAT THEY CAN, is just another sign of our decay. Have we become so selfish that we can rationalize using the system when we are capable of working and contributing to the system as others have done. How about hand-ups instead of hand-outs ? How about focusing on creating jobs so people can feel the pride of accomplishment instead of dependency ? Or is it too late ?

 

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

 

 

 

Free On-Line Support Groups: OneStepataTime.com

 

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Dependency Makes Me Weak !

by on Aug.05, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

What is Dependence?
Dependence is basically the act of leaning on others, rather than doing things yourself. There’s a time for dependence (when we’re learning) and there’s a time for independence (to branch out on your own).

I was talking to a very special young lady of thirteen recently, and we were discussing all the great experiences and the feelings of safety that she now has in her life. She was a “homeless child” from about the age of ten until twelve, and I mean totally on her own to face her day to day survival. No father or mother. No one to depend on, no one to count on. Her immediate goals were to find food and a maybe find a safe place to sleep at night.

I know it is hard to believe, but I know it was true because I would talk to her almost daily while she was on the streets. She wanted so badly to find a home, and she allowed me to help her. She worked so hard to get off the streets, as something inside of her drove her forward against so many obstacles. I was truly amazed at her fortitude and perseverance.

So, one might think, now that she is in a family and has been adopted, all is good in her new world. And, to be sure, she is very appreciative of her new family and new life.

However, as we talked recently, she shared with me one very important point that has her scared. She is realizing that the longer she is off the streets and has left that life behind her, she has felt weaker as she has realized her potential for dependency.

She never felt dependent before. She was scared, but she was strong and resilient.
She had to fight many battles being on the streets, but she did what she had to do and KNEW she could do whatever it took. She had faith and trust in herself, because she saw she could survive. Even as she decided she needed to get off the streets, she saw herself take on the steps needed to do that. She reached out to me. We created a plan together. But, it was her alone that took the steps we discussed. She never would allow herself to be dependent on me. “Tell me what I need to do, but then let ME do it. I do not want anyone controlling my life”.

Now that she was in a loving home, her fear of becoming  dependent truly scared her. There were so many things she had come to love like her new parents and siblings.
Hot meals and a mattress to sleep on, and her own room. However, she also witnessed weakness around her. She saw people doing harm to others and no one doing anything about it. Why would a person still be with another person who hurts them, says ugly things, treats them badly ?  On the streets, if you hurt somebody, there were consequences. There were rules of survival. There were territories, even for dumpsters to find food. So you found another source of food, another dumpster. You did what you had to do ! But in some way, you still felt strong knowing and seeing that you did get through another day.

But in the civilized world, she saw people freely giving up their independence, accepting so much less than what they wanted.

People in unhappy relationships, but settling.

People in jobs they hated, but accepting they could do no better.
People who are being abused emotionally, physically or sexually, and no one doing anything about it.

People going on disability who are not sick. People on food stamps and who are capable of working.

“ I do not want to become weak. I do not want to be dependent in that way. That is not why I wanted to get off the streets. I do not want to lose my pride, my edge. “

I predict that this young lady is going to do great things !

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist. Coach

Blog : www.RuledByFear.com

Newsletter and Support Group: www.OneStepatatime.com

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When Children Show Compulsive Behaviors !

by on Jul.14, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

When Children Show Compulsive Behaviors

I certainly try to be sensitive to anyone who experiences panic attacks, obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors {OCD}, but can you imagine how even more frightening it is for a child ?
Sadly, I am seeing more an more children suffering from these anxiety symptoms than ever before.  In reality, the sources for their symptoms are pretty much in line with why adults experience them, but since they are children, it is easier to see the cycle from stress, to anxiety, to panic and OCD.
Our children are under so much more social pressure at even younger ages.  The pressure to fit in and be accepted can put the child in such a conflicting state before his or her mind or life experience has prepared that child with any coping strategies.
The pain I see in parents’ eyes is so heart-breaking as they are expressing their concern over their child’s fearful, obsessive thoughts or the need to perform rituals like turning on and off light switches repeatedly before the child can leave a room, or hand-washing until the child’s skin is raw.
But there is almost always an answer if one looks hard enough and listens to the child. With one child I recall, I attempted to calm her fears at the first appointment by saying, ” I know this need or urge to check things or do things over and over must make you really feel like something is wrong, but i promise you that you and I can discover why this is happening and we can make a plan so you will be able to control these behaviors.
Often, the urges to check or repeat things is just a sign that there are other things happening in your life that cause you to feel scared, maybe overwhelmed. Like maybe there are things you are dealing with that make you feel angry or confused as to what is right or wrong. Can you think of any things going on either at home or with kids at school?”
The tears started immediately. She sobbed. She then said she thought she was going crazy because she had to do these things over and over and it made  no sense, but yes, she was angry about some things happening among her friends. Yes, that anger was a bad feeling. She was ashamed of herself for feeling such anger {conflict}. She had befriended a new girl in school, tried to make her feel welcome, but that same girl was spreading lies about her.This new girl was trying  to take my client’s friends away from her.
So this child was experiencing the dark side  of a person whom she had opened her arms to, and she felt such immense conflict over the situation, and guilt over the resulting anger, that she began manifesting bizarre behaviors.That is often how OCD  sometimes works. Her little world was feeling so out of control. So her compulsive rituals were a way to  symbolically create some control in that world
Look at this simple example, and apply it to an adult’s situation, with layers of denial and avoidance and you can see that the same pattern of conflict exists in many such cases. Food for thought ?
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
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