When Fear Rules !

Tag: anxiety

Feeling Out of Control ?

by on Dec.25, 2015, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Sheila had not driven on a freeway in twenty-five years, although she had never been in a major accident. Her anxiety and fear of having a panic attack had seriously limited her options and choices for both a social life and a more desireable career as she was always searching for alternate roads to travel.

Chuck was so caught up with his obsessions over germs that it all but paralyzed him from doing anything to pursue his desire for a meaningful relationship or a more challenging career. How could he even think about making changes in his life with all these anxiety -driven fears dominating his thoughts ? What girl would give him a second look when she realized his life was ruled by these fears of contamination ?

Rick was a productive guy with a potentially awesome career, but his anxiety and compulsive rituals of checking everything from doors being locked to “repeatedly” searching for errors in his work had negatively effected his performance to the point that his job was now in jeopardy.

Patricia loved her job, but all of a sudden her ability to travel was threatened by these panic attacks that came out of nowhere !

So, if you have ever experienced panic attacks or the companion symptoms of obsessive-intrusive thoughts or compulsive behaviors, I do not have to tell you how overwhelming these symptoms can become and how much they can effect your life. Panic attacks, which often seem to come from ” out of the blue “, can quickly become an all consuming and draining experience as they leave one feeling such a very real sense of being out of control.

What could be the reason or a source for these life-altering symptoms ? Not wishing to over-simplify, but to at least get you thinking about why this might happen, I would offer the following points for you to consider. One of the common elements with each of the examples I offered above is the issue of being an adapting personality type. In my opinion, being an adapting person, one who is aware of and sensitive to the reactions, thoughts and feelings of others around them, is a gift but can feel like a curse. While being aware and sensitive is a characteristic that could enhance one’s personal life and career, depending on the depths one has “learned” to bend and adapt to please others, one can lose their sense of self because of their dependency on approval and acceptance. In too many situations, there are many of us who have “learned” to depend too much on the approval of others to measure their personal worth and value, and their sense of identity.

Dependency breeds a sense of doubt in oneself. What do I really want to do with my life ? Am I pursuing what I want, or putting all my energy into what I think people expect me to do ? Do I just settle, and stay below the radar, or do I challenge myself even when others say I should be happy with what I have now, so don’t rock the boat ?

Do I stretch and put more energy into being there for others while ignoring or seldom expressing my own needs ? Do I conform to the “shoulds” or do I experiment with potential options in my life ? Do I avoid conflict at all cost ? Do I push myself to prove my worth and value but hesitate to reward myself for a job well-done ?

If you have experienced panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive symptoms, please just consider that there are most often, in my humble opinion, reasons why this is happening to you. You may need to feel more in control of your life, which, if lacking, may cause you to experience panic and OCD which creates a more immediate sense of loss of control and at the same time may distract you from what is really going on.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT FOR THE NEW YEAR ???

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
President/CEO, Benhaven Counseling, LLC
The Benhaven Group, LLC
Blog : www.RuledByFear.com
http://www.facebook.com/groups/ruledbyfear

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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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Allowing Fear to Rule your Life !

by on Feb.22, 2015, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, Uncategorized

What a distasteful thought ! The mere thought that you would somehow make a choice of ” allowing fear to rule your life “, is offensive to imagine, but you know it is true.

I do not think anyone with a conscience can rule out all fears in life, as we do live in the real world with all its imperfections and yet all its possibilities. With that in mind,
we each make conscious or subconcious decisions throughout our day and our life to either challenge ourselves and our fears, or to avoid in order to create a sense
of safety, of perceived comfort, even if just for the moment, or a day. Somewhere, rolling around in your thoughts is the reality that avoidance eventually leads
to anxiety because we are reinforcing and empowering our fears.

Yes, as unpleasant the thought is that we allow fear to manipulate us each day, it cannot be denied. Whether it be avoiding rejection or the potential failure and embarrassment,
we too often repress what we think and feel, making excuses to ourselves rather than trying something new, or adapting to what we think others expect of us, even to the point that we may
lose sight of what we really want and need to feel ” in control of our lives “. Consider, that to a more significant degree than you may be ready to admit, your life and personal growth are ruled by your fears.

However, you can do a great deal about overcoming your fears, if you are attacking your fears in the right way !

In my opinion, most of the clients I see with significant anxiety, phobias, agoraphobia and panic attacks are intelligent, very well-meaning people with rich potential but often, in one
area or another in their lives, never learned to effectively set boundaries thereby creating a sense of imbalance, and therefore anxiety and conflict. So many of them are adapting
or approval-seeking personalities, where the want for approval and acceptance becomes a habit that they may not be aware of unless challenged. Whether manifested by being a Caregiver
who invests more energy into helping others but repesses his or her needs, a perfectionist who is so intent on performing and doing that he or she becomes overwhelmed and burns out,
a conformer who habitually adjusts and adapts to what he or she thinks others expect, or the peace-keeper who avoids conflict at all cost, there lies an underlying source of conflict, which leads to anxiety and often panic symptoms.

The good news ? Adapting or approval seeking personality types can make changes to take more control of their lives and thereby their symptoms.

The bad news ? It is hard work as it requires some uncomfortable self-reflection, and step by step planning and DOING ! A plan must be forged, usually with a professional therapist to guide
you and keep you on path. The temptations to give in to old habits and compulsions are strong, but through desensitization techniques and therapy that is reality based, thoughts, feelings and behaviors can be altered to a more healthy and self-esteeming point where one develops a greater sense of self, feels control over their previous anxiety symptoms, and most importantly, feels more control over their life.

How rewarding is that !!!

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
CEO, The Benhaven Group, LLC
www.OneStepataTime.com
Blog: www.RuledByFear.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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Think About This, Feel About That !

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

 

Think About This, Feel About That !

What do you REALLY think and feel ?

What do you REALLY think and feel ?

 

I have heard it said, ” You are who you are when no one is looking.” That always made sense to me since many of us spend so much of our time adapting or molding into what we think others expect us to be. At least, many of my clients suffering from anxiety, panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive thoughts and rituals would find this to be true.

 

In fact, I have found that a predominant issue that triggers many of their anxiety symptoms is, in fact, their gradual realization that the need for approval and acceptance, their want to fit in and belong, and their fear of failure and rejection by others all to often effect or restrict what they do with their lives, or what they do not do.

 

We are, so to speak, what we think, feel and do !

 

But how easily are your thoughts influenced by what you think you ” should ” think ? Do you actually say what you think, or express your thoughts in terms that are more in line with others around you at the moment ? How often do you truly share your thoughts and risk disapproval or disagreement ?

 

Since what you FEEL is often significantly molded by what you think, if your thoughts

are not clearly your own, or are influenced by your fears of rejection or ridicule, what do you truly feel ? Are you being honest with yourself ? Like, what do you really feel about gay marriage, gun control, or abortion ? Look in the mirror and ask yourself !

 

In the end, it is what you DO with your life as a result of what you think and feel that  brings you a sense of purpose, of meaning, of worth and value. So the more conflict there is about what you truly think and feel, the more likely you might be to avoid or be otherwise distracted from really doing  what you could with your life !

 

Many a good and well-meaning person will waste so much emotional and psychological energy seeking approval, acceptance and validation from others that they often do not realize that they are giving up any potential momentum they could be devoting to their real personal growth.

 

When I focus with clients on having them truly define what they think and feel, and when they actually express their wants and opinions, they realize how much they have held themselves back. It takes time to learn to challenge their fears that have held them back, but they do, step by step, and as a result, they begin to TRUST their thoughts and opinions, to EMBRACE their feelings and to DO things in their life that bring more worth and value to their days.

 

They still care what others think and feel, but they learn to set boundaries  as to how far they go to please. They are respectful of others thoughts and feelings but require respect in return.

 

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

 

Benhaven Counseling, LLC

 

Blog: RuledByFear.com

 

Newsletter and On-Line Support Group: OneStepataTime.com

 

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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
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/groups/RuledByFearhttp://www.dreamstime.com/-image20924564

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The Slippery Slope

by on Mar.04, 2013, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

 

So this young female client comes in to her session with good news as  far as her progress in fighting off anxiety, but she still seems troubled.She had used all the tools we had discussed to understand and take control of the conflicts in her life that were triggers for her panic attacks and obsessive thoughts, and she felt strengthened knowing those tools worked. Yet again, she still appeared bothered, almost distant.

 
When I asked her about what I sensed, she at first reluctantly said she wasn’t sure, but that while we were talking about all she had done to feel more in control of her life, it was dawning on her that there was something else going on at school that was creating conflict, and she had pretty much ignored it until we started chatting.

 

It seems that while she is attending her college classes, some of the students were able to vie for part-time work for the school. The money was good and it was very convenient to be able to work a few hours a day in-between classes. These jobs were thought to be rather special and rare, so she was thrilled to secure one of them. After a few weeks of working this job, she found that there was nothing much to do. She expected she would be working on some project  for her professors,and she was excited to be somehow involved in their programs and research. It would feel good to be a part of something important. But in fact, she was told to just spend the time doing her homework.

 

She looked around and saw that this was , in fact, what the other students were doing, getting paid to do their homework. It troubled her at first because she always thought of herself as a conscientious person with a good work ethic. She was brought up with a very spiritual and moral foundation.What she realized was bothering her the most was that she easily gave in and followed the crowd. As she sat in front of me, she expressed concern, even showed some tears as she realized how she was too easily acquiescing to a behavior that was very uncomfortable. She was not proud of what she was doing.

 

This situation created a ethical conflict, and she felt that alarms should have gone off in her head immediately, but they didn’t. Why was she just following ? Why was she just accepting a behavior that was previously unacceptable to her ? She could feel a decrease in self-pride, in esteem. This was a slippery slope, and she was on the precipice.  “If I could justify this when it is so against my ethics, what else could I rationalize my way around in life. I am feeling a lack of trust in myself now and it is terribly uncomfortable. I do not like being this vulnerable. ”

 

Not long after my encounter with this young lady, the mother in another family I have known for years was talking to me about how excited she and her husband were about starting their own business. Carol was a staunch Independent, and spoke quite openly about her disgust for those who live off the system when they are perfectly capable of working. Something changed however, as she and her husband found that they were receiving payments for many of their new company’s  services “under the table “. That meant, of course, not having to worry about paying taxes until they were really making bigger bucks. This would allow them to build up a “war chest” of funds that really helped them get a better start with their company.

 

Then they realized how easy it was to set themselves up to receive “free lunches” for the kids, and then take advantage of free Welfare health services, just until their company got a really good start. All of a sudden, they were able to justify and rationalize that what they once rejected as people living off or scamming the system, was acceptable under “their” circumstances. I voiced my displeasure, but I cannot judge.

 

The problem is, of course, that greater numbers of people ARE able to justify this kind of behavior, and walk along the edge of that slippery slope  where they eventually find themselves dependent on the system, weakened by their own choices, and dependent on a government who would thrive on their dependency. So goes the country !

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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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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

Facebook: Facebook.com/groups/RuledByFearhttp://www.dreamstime.com/-image26688221

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Why allow ourselves to be manipulated ?

by on Jan.06, 2013, under STOPPING ABUSE

 

Manipulation of one person or many people by others occurs in many ways and in many forms everyday. It happens in families. It happens at work.It happens among friends.It happens in some religious organizations. And, can you believe, It happens in government ?  Wasn’t it the former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel who said,  ” ” ? Those who manipulate usually thrive on control, and therefore they know how to use their skills effectively.  The manipulators I have dealt with do it because they can ! Maybe to hide their own insecurities and secret frustrations and needs, maybe to carry out dark agendas for power, but whatever their motivation, why do we allow it ? 

 

Maybe:

 

Once we are aware of being manipulated, some might feel anger, even rage. Many tell me their anger quickly turns to shame for being so stupid, so
foolish. It can feel demeaning and cut to the core of our self-esteem and confidence and our shame and bruised self-esteem may cause
us to be silent.
We may tell ourselves there is nothing we can do when we are up against such people.
We tell ourselves, we do not want that person angry with us.
We fear something bad will happen if we stand up for ourselves, like we might be fired  or marked as a whistle blower.
We tell ourselves, it will be ok, it’s not really that important or that bad.
We tell ourselves no one cares, so why should we, it will pass .
We tell ourselves that no one will listen.
We just do not like to deal with conflict, so let others do it.
Really, it is ALL about FEAR. Fear of rejection, failure, embarrassment, or REPRISAL if we speak our minds !!!
We are Ruled By Fear, and unless we find the inner strength and join forces with others who also feel as we do, we will wake up one day realizing how much we have short-changed ourselves and our lives and goals because of fear and avoidance. ” United we stand, divided we fall “, a quote from the days of the American Revolution is as appropriate now as it was then.
I have had the unforgetable opportunity to work with a number of these manipulative, controlling people, mostly due to my work with their victims, including abused children, victims of domestic violence and homeless kids.These Manipulators have an unquechable thirst for power and control matched with a limitless ability to justify and rationalize their behaviors. Some of these abusers act out in more subtle ways, like an uncle or grandfather who builds trust with a niece over time, only to lure the child into some act of  molestation. Some are more open and in your face like a father who molested his daughter for years until she escaped the only way she knew how, by giving up her life. It can be a boss why sexually harasses an employee, or a minister who controls his flock by using guilt and shame.
Those who would control and manipulate us will lie so convincingly, will charm us with their charisma, will promise us with all we wish to hear, will give us just enough to whet our appetites for more and then blame us for whatever goes wrong. Blame, blame, blame, these manipulators know how to divide and conquer,  and make every effort to make those who question them feel guilty and shamed, so as to seal their lips.
To be sure, these manipulators can lie with such efficiency, without hesitation, so that normal people with conscience begin to question the validity of their own common sense.They are very good at what they do, and with a lack of conscience , and hidden agendas in their minds, they most often get what they want until their voracious appetite for control leads them to take bites that are just so big, so against the nature of their “subjects “, that rebellion may finally occur. Unfortunately, the havoc they wreak in the meantime is hideous and scars their victims for life.
If this all sounds a bit melodramatic, you might need to open your eyes and listen carefully to the world around you. While we can be lulled into a comfort zone by avoiding the dark side, sit across from a child who has been sexually molested by someone she trusted, and answer her questions of WHY ! Talk to a homeless child, who for no fault of her own, finds herself alone on the streets being physically and sexually abused on a regular basis. Tell her why even a school principle abused her. Look at the histories of most developing countries, including our great nation and take note of the atrocities that occur and ask why ! Look at the games and lies of “some” of our own politicians and ask why so many fall prey to believing them even when they have histories that should turn most deaf to their promises.
My resolution for the New Year is to share, learn and teach in as many ways as I can in order to gain the understanding and support of others who would ban together to challenge the bullies of our lives. It is only by building a Support Group of people who want to make a difference, that we can give a voice to those who have been and are being emotionally, sexually or physically abused, manipulated and controlled by those who can because they know how to use FEAR to silence their victims. Bullies use the technique of “Divide and Conquer” , and mixed with shame, they win all too often.
I have such a group, called The Watch. It is a group of select and trusted people, as well as heads of some powerful organizations that fight against abuse and manipulation. I can share with these people of conscience and conviction and do so when I am dealing with especially heinous abusers, especially the narcissistic sociopaths
in our society, It offers me strength when I am in contact with abusers, because they know I am not alone in my endeavors to limit their hateful behaviors.
I will follow-up this article with others that will hopefully be helpful to anyone who has suffered from abuse and manipulation, to aide them in realizing there is support out there,and to also stimulate more to become involved.
You might look into the Nicole Brown Simpson Foundation, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and The Center for Community Solutions. I have found these, among others, as being very helpful and part of my support system.
Happy New Year  !!!
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
On-Line Support Groups : www.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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