When Fear Rules !

Tag: anxiety

Panic Attacks…Find the Source

by on Dec.09, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

So you find yourself in the ER or sitting in front of your Primary Care Physician {PCP} because you are experiencing some intense physical symptoms such as tingling in your arms, tightness in your chest, light-headedness, heart palpitations and an overall feeling of weakness. You may have felt this before and it passed, but here it is again.You felt that alarm go off in your head, a sense of dread, fear that it could be a heart attack.

You felt that alarm go off in your head, a sense of dread, fear that it could be a heart attack.

 

Well, first, you are smart for taking action. But then your doctor checks you out, and says that all your vitals are good. He thinks it is anxiety, but wants you to have more testing. He makes the referral and you go to the hospital for further tests, just to make sure.

 

After all tests are done, again you are told it is anxiety, and that you are having panic attacks. You are at first relieved it is not something critical to your health, but then think, these panic attacks are horrible and you ask the doctor for medications.

 

The most knowledgeable physicians will instruct you to treat these anxiety symptoms with both medications and counseling. On the other hand, you may just be given meds and be sent home with a reminder to see your PCP for a follow-up appointment.

 

This is where it gets tricky !

 

If you were offered medications, such as an anti-anxiety med  [ Xanax,or Ativan , etc. ] and /or an SSRI med like Zoloft or Paxil, you might feel some relief of your symptoms, at least for a while. Part of that relief might be psychological [placebo effect], but certainly some is a physical reaction to the drugs you have ingested. However, the meds are not a cure. You may go for weeks without any symptoms and you so earnestly try to convince yourself that it was just a fluke. Then the symptoms return, maybe even more intense. You call your PCP and he suggests that you increase your medications. You readily do so, but maybe some voice in your head  says I need to know WHY this is happening, maybe not. Hopefully, now your PCP suggests you see a therapist who specializes in treating Anxiety Disorders such as panic attacks, phobias, obsessive worry and compulsive behaviors.

 

Now, if you find the right therapist  who seems knowledgable and experienced, you are finally on the right track. However, now you have more serious decisions to make. Are you going to be truly open with your therapist,  let down your guard, and really explore issues and conflicts that may be triggers for your anxiety ?

 

Are you going to be willing to take steps that are laid out between you and the therapist that so often can be uncomfortable at first ? Are you ready to make the needed changes in your life ?

 

Therapy works, especially when dealing with Anxiety Disorders, if you are ready to face what needs to be done to help you feel more in control of your life, because that is a KEY issue. There are most likely, and most often conflicts going on that you have repressed that are causing you to feel inner turmoil. When you avoid those issues, as you most likely have in the past, they just fester and come to the surface in the form of anxiety symptoms, a temper tantrum, or an anger outburst that just makes you feel more out of control. It is a vicious cycle that must be broken.

 

A reminder ! The medications may be helping, but in most cases as I have said previously, they do not actually cure the anxiety. The temptation to just take more and more meds is a real problem. You need to look at meds as a step in treatment, offering you enough temporary relief that you are in a better state of mind to identify and DEAL with issues and make changes.

 

This is just my experience with clients, but I have seen all too many on higher and higher doses of meds, often with the blessings of their physician or psychiatrist. My greatest concern is that at these higher dosages I also see clients experiencing side effects that actually create more anxiety, cause one to not be able to focus or concentrate, and possibly not be able to feel much of anything. These side effects can exacerbate the feelings of being out of control. Make sure to work with your therapist and PCP [or psychiatrist], and check often that they are communicating over your care.

 

Just a Thought !

 

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

 

 

 

On-Line Support Group: OneStepataTime.com

 

 

2 Comments :, , , , , , , , , , more...

Anxiety Does Not Mean You Are Weak !

by on Nov.18, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

So this young man, in his mid 30’s, was obviously frustrated and anxious as he had been to countless physicians, neurologists and other specialists in an attempt to find answers for the host of physical symptoms he was experiencing. His angst was exacerbated by the fact that he was not getting any answers and his symptoms were worsening. Pains in his arms and his chest along with feeling physically tired, somedays not feeling he had enough energy to walk without stumbling as well as tingling of his scalp, hands and feet were all very alarming.

Some where along his quest for answers, it was mentioned to him that he might be suffering from a ” Conversion Reaction “, a condition where persistent physical symptoms that cannot be fully explained by a medical condition, substance abuse, or other mental disorder, and seem to stem from psychological issues or conflicts. He seemed almost angry but al least very concerned at this suggestion, as if professionals were telling him he was weak, that his symptoms were all mental.

I could feel his conflict over wanting relief of his physical symptoms, yet not being able to swallow what he was hearing. But then again, he was there, with me, hoping that together we could find answers.

So I listened, asked some probing questions, and listened some more. I heard that there were indeed some symptoms that were physical in origin, as with an issue with hypoglycemia where he would feel shaky if he did not eat more frequently. But after he gradually opened up and shared more and more, it appeared obvious that there were some personally significant emotional issues and conflicts in his life that were most likely hitting more nerves than anything physical or medical. He knew there were issues, but never suspected that they could be the source of his symptoms. Like many, it is thought that something truly cataclysmic would be going on if that would result in the symptoms like this man was experiencing.

Although I knew he needed  answers, it was obviously critical that he understand a very important fact, one that I have preached many times to clients. In fact, I had just received a note from one of my past clients asking that I press the issue in my Blog that having anxiety symptoms, panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive issues does not mean we are weak or fragile people !

This man was a perfect example of how physical symptoms can be triggered by emotional issues and conflict, not because a person is weak, but because he or she is a more adapting person, one that enjoys validation from others, yet has thoughts, feelings and desires of his own. It is not a bad thing to have a conscience and to want to avoid conflict, but one must also have effective tools to deal with conflicts and issues when they do arise, and especially when compromise is not easily at hand. It is all right to want to feel the approval from others, as long as one can set boundaries and not allow that want to become a need that keeps you from seeking what you desire in your life. 

This man was not weak, in fact he had taken some very real and bold steps to become an entrepreneur, creating a business out of one of his passions. However, over time, dealing with his business partners was creating considerable conflict. Changes needed to be made that were going to lead to some uncomfortable and hard feelings. This very creative and already successful man was avoiding dealing with these issues, and instead, the resulting anxiety symptoms had taken up so much of his time and energy, that he had no fire left in his belly to deal with the actual conflicts, the real sources for his pain.

Again, that does not make him weak. As he understood that, like many people, it was just his nature to want to avoid conflict. He now had more of a grasp as to how the mind and body can play havoc, distracting him from dealing with unpleasant things. He was not crazy, not out of control, he was just suffering from a complex anxiety reaction to conflict, and he had now learned a very important lesson. My goal will be to guide him so he can take what he has learned, set reasonable goals to deal with his conflicts while gradually and more deeply realizing that his symptoms are reactions, not a disease. No, he was not weak, but this will make him even stronger as he takes steps, takes action to deal with issues One Step At A Time.

It will be most important for him to attack the issues in his life with a plan, allowing time to desensitize and work through his thoughts and feelings at each step. We can desensitize to so much in life if we just do it the right way. Sure, there are some people who appear less bothered by conflict.

Certainly there are aggressive types that can blow right by potential conflicts not hesitating to make changes. There are those that seem less burdened by a conscience. Let me tell you from experience over many years and after dealing with many personality types, those others have their own interpersonal issues that if you fully realized or walked in their shoes, you would not wish to be one of them.

I would be happy to respond to your questions and hear your thoughts.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Benhaven Counseling

Blog: RuledByFear.com

On-Line Support Group: OneStepataTime.com

Facebook: Facebook.com/groups/ruledbyfear

3 Comments :, , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

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

1 Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

One Step at a Time !

by on Oct.22, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD


When you see someone do something really special, accomplishing something that you see as significant or making changes or challenging some problem or issue in his or her life, what goes through YOUR mind ?  Does it motivate you and cause you to seriously explore options for change ?  How quickly do self-defeating thoughts pop into your head, like
” Who am I kidding, I can’t do that “?

Are there things in your life that you always wanted to do, but always seem to put off ? Are you “comfortable” with your job, but wishing you could do something more ?  Are there personal changes you would like to make, like lose weight, learn a language, take classes to learn a new skill ?

Do you allow your need for approval from others prevent you from expressing how you really feel or think about some issue ? Are you reluctant to express your needs to your partner or a close friend ? Do you create a facade of everything being good in your life, yet yearn for more ?

What stops you ? I know, life gets busy and you just do not have time, right ? Or, is it that you just cannot see yourself making changes in your private thoughts, in your minds eye, so to speak ?

These are emotionally complex issues to unravel, but the reality is that as much as you may want something, or desire to change something in your life, if you cannot see yourself doing it, whatever it is, it will not get done  ! Your self doubt, fueled by fears of failure, rejection, embarrassment and even success will derail your efforts.

Your inner fears fill the airwaves of your mind. The negative self-talk that is reinforced by those fears has had years and years to develop, so there is a strong resistance to change.

So with all those doubts swimming around in your mind, how can you navigate through them and defeat them ? I have always stressed that the best way to accomplish change is to do so in STEPS and with a Support Team around you. Your fears usually are so well embedded in your life that you cannot make changes if you attempt to do so in leaps that will overwhelm, or without people around to goad you along, and validate your efforts to change.

Creating goals is great, but they must be behaviorally measurable, something you can see and feel. The steps to accomplish those goals must be defined and reasonable. So, just as an example, what if you wanted to get in better shape ? The key is that you must exercise but do so with a plan. You must define steps, like being able to carry out certain exercises, starting at a point where the task is doable, and gradually and consistently practicing that step and adding a layer of difficulty a little at a time. The confidence from the success on one step can propel you to the next step. It will take consistent and persistent practice and stretching to gain any real momentum, because you have to build a history in your mind to over run the history already there of avoiding, giving up and seeing yourself as a failure. This applies to anything you want to change, like being able to do public speaking which would open up other career doors, over-riding panic attacks while driving so you gain freedom in your life, or being able to express your thoughts and opinions rather than avoid doing so for fear of rejection, failure or embarrassment.

That momentum is critical to your success ! That momentum can help you ride a wave that can outrun your past negative thoughts and fears. One Step at a Time, rather than throwing yourself into the deep, has a much greater chance success as it gives you the opportunity to see yourself as successful ! Each success adds to your arsenal of positive self-talk to compete with those previously un-challenged negative and self- deprecating thoughts. Taking frequent small bites rather than a huge gulp  can reduce the risk of

choking !

As much as a step by step approach and persistent practice is crucial, so is the need for a  support system I mentioned before to encourage your continued success. Not only does a team of cheerleaders validating your progress help create momentum, but the thought of disappointing them adds to your efforts.

In truth, this is just common sense, but yet many of us abandon the idea of a step by step approach, as we think it is a sign of weakness. In truth, the “all or nothing approach” seldom works and most often causes a person to shut down, or avoid further steps as we feel overwhelmed.

What do you want to change ?

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

Benhaven Counseling

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com

On-Line Support Group: www.OneStepataTime.com

2 Comments :, , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

A note from a young girl fighting her way out of panic !

by on Oct.22, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

When we start making progress, we may also still have times of fear and we may begin to slowly feel like not continuing to try because we feel scared once again or for some reason, we seem to lack motivation. Personally, I’m having this issue now and I don’t quite know why.

I want to get better, I was improving, and now my will power seems to have lessened. I never understood why one would be afraid of success. Maybe we fear though that once we trust ourselves, and let our guard down, we’ll become blindsided. Maybe we also think that once we tackle one thing, another thing we find even more nerve wrecking will come along. Maybe we just grow impatient. We don’t see all the results right away so we lose motivation, we stop practicing. The problem is however, that once we stop practicing, we start telling our minds that we’re slowly giving up, and we can’t do that.

How are you going to trust yourself if you lose the motivation to do so? Try and remember first and foremost that you have been successful to some degree. I know that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re confidence will return. However, these are some things to consider. If you’ve been successful, why are you still scared? If you were motivated before, why did that begin to change? It could be a simple answer or a complex one. All the same, it should be considered.

BG

1 Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , more...

Why Do I Procrastinate ?

by on Oct.07, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

 

So, Why do I Procrastinate ?
There is not necessarily one simple answer to that question, as much depends on the personality and needs of the person asking the question. Granted, for some, they may procrastinate because there is no real desire or need to do whatever is in question. However, for many of the individuals I work with as a therapist, there may be another more compelling and obvious reason for their avoiding. However, no matter how obvious it may be to some, when a person is in a state of anxiety, the obvious easily becomes blurred.
Most of my clients come to me because they are experiencing significant anxiety, panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Rarely are their symptoms the result of some significant trauma, or a crisis that would be considered by most of us to be a serious threat to life or limb. To be sure, trauma or crisis can cause serious anxiety symptoms, but most often I have found the trigger for these symptoms to be personal conflict, some inner turmoil that they suffer through privately.

Many times, my clients are in conflict because they are not living their lives to the fullest measure that they desire or dream of, but instead find themselves settling, opting to be comfortable rather than stretch or test themselves. I call this being ” comfortably-uncomfortable. I would expect many of you feel you are not doing all you hoped or expected to do with your lives.

So, I had this client ask me today, ” Why would I procrastinate when I know I am not happy with my place in life, when my job is not fulfilling, when my social life is blah ? When I think about it, and the fact that one day after another goes by and I put off taking steps towards any of the changes we have talked about it therapy, I feel more and more anxious. I still put off doing anything about it.”

What most often comes to my mind when I hear comments like this is… FEAR !Our lives are ruled by fear in many ways, some more evident than others. But make no mistake, FEAR RULES. Fear of failure, embarrassment, rejection, and even fear of success can be triggers for many of our negative, self-sabotaging thoughts.

Maybe you were one of the lucky ones who was “wired” like Steve Jobs. Possibly you were brought up in an atmosphere where taking reasonable risks was rewarded, meeting challenges head-on was second-nature and self-esteem was nurtured. Or, you may be one on many, I dare say the majority of persons who adapt but give up little pieces of who they are or want to be or withdraw and go numb when faced with significant changes or even mild to moderate challenges.

“Let’s just play it safe, and not buck the system. Keep my thoughts and feelings to myself.”

This young man I was talking to had actually stretched rather significantly in his life for a short period of time. While in therapy, we were able to identify needs and issues and laid out a game plan for action. He put himself and his level of self-confidence to the test by taking on some classes that he had always thought about but always put off. What did he experience as a result ? It was exciting ! Not only did he prove to himself that he could still master new knowledge, but he was also able to ask questions and make comments in his classes that seemed to open his eyes to the reality that he truly had potential to do more with his life. He felt validation from others which was definitely not what he was use to in his life.

So what was the problem ? The classes ended, and he returned to a boring job, one that helped pay the bills but did not really interest or challenge him. His short stint at this exciting new world of challenge gave way to his life’s way of thinking that success is for the other guy. The thoughts that he was not good enough had been so pervasive throughout his life, that without consistent and persistent challenging of his negative self talk , his confidence and esteem hit the wall and slid down that slippery slope of “what ifs” and ” what ever gave me the idea I could really do this ?”

Hopefully now he understands that he was on the right course, but that he has to choreograph his life so that he further develops reasonable goals with steps, and that he must practice stretching every day. Like physical exercise, one can wish to be in shape, but without persistent effort, muscle turns to flab, confidence turns to just being comfortably-uncomfortable……and anxiety flirts and plays with your thoughts, and not in a fun way.

We can take greater control of our lives, but dare I say, we must be somewhat obsessed with taking steps and desensitizing to our fears. This is not something you can do half-heartedly. You must face your fears, challenge yourself to the point that you can feel resistance and beyond without overwhelming yourself. If you do not feel some anxiety while making changes, there is little real growth. But by taking STEPS, you break the anxiety of change down into digestible bites instead of choking and giving in to your fears.

Do you procrastinate ? Why ? Care to share your thoughts ?

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Benhaven Counseling, LLC
Blog : RuledByFear.com
On-Line Support Group and Newsletter : www.OneStepAtaTime.com

1 Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

I Use to Pray for Rain !

by on Sep.17, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

I listened very intently as she expressed both her excitement over her progress, but realization that even a few days of avoiding anything stressful, including the homework I had given her, caused her to doubt herself and, yes, feel some of those pangs of anxiety and panic.

Her homework was to face her fears, every day taking steps to face the situations where panic had occurred. We broke the steps down into very reasonable bites, and they were steps that she could adjust so she felt more in control.

She had in fact, allowed her anxiety to take control of her life. She had been housebound, what we call agoraphobic. She could not shower, so was reduced to a sponge bath at the bathroom sink. She could not wash her hair, which was not onlya hygiene issue, but an especially devastating state of affairs as she had always been so proud of her appearance, and one of her special treats was to have her hair cut and styled once a month. So then, although in her early forties and reduced to living with her parents, she was all but a prisoner in her apartment. Her ” fear of fear ” had grown to the point that she had no faith in herself to do much of anything, I am sure this is very hard to understand for someone who has never experienced panic attacks, but it has become very common to see in my practice.

If only she or those around her that loved her and were witness to her initial slide onto the abyss of anxiety, and then depression, would have seen to it that she entered effective therapy at the time of onset. Unfortunately, she was an adult when all this began, when she first experienced panic attacks, and in her mind, the answer was medication. Pills might have reduced some of the anxiety, but it did not get to the sources for the panic, so after an initial few weeks of improvement, she relapsed even further into her fears.

I was witness to that slide into hell, but could not stop it from happening as she would not embrace therapy or face the needed changes in her life. Oh, there were causes for the panic attacks. Overprotective parents, a heavy dose of intrusive behavior on the part of the mother, some paternal physical abuse, and a boyfriend who actually reinforced her dependency on him due to his own insecurities, all led to her feeling weak and very emotionally conflicted. Now that she had become so dependent, there was no way she could truly imagine being otherwise, although she was so depressed as to what her life had become.

I was more than thrilled when she contacted me and said, ” Coach, I am ready ! I cannot stand this any longer. I got rid of the boyfriend, I am setting boundaries with my parents, I am on very limited medications, and I want a life !
I felt something had truly changed. I actually could sense that her pain at giving up her life had come to a point that it was over-riding her fears of making changes. She was angry, and we could use that anger to challenge each fear, step by step.

Over the ensuing weeks, she took steps to face her fears. She challenged her fears and was able to shower. Within two weeks, she was washing her hair. Recently, after practicing just sitting in her car, realizing she was not going to die no matter what anxiety she experienced, and focusing on the fact that there were still many things she could do, and wanted to do in her life, she drove that car, at night, to a Burger King. Can you imagine how HUGE that was for her ? If she can do what she has done so far, although commonplace for many others, there is no limit as to what she can do if she continues to guard herself from people who would abuse, manipulator control her, if she would refuse to compromise away who she is and what she wants just to please others, and if she continues to face her fears in steps that SHE controls.

“Coach, I use to pray for rain. On those days I felt I had an excuse to go nowhere, and felt less guilt. I tried to convince myself that when the weather was better, I would try to embrace life again. Now for the first time in so long, I really think I can have a life ! ”

I hope this true story encourages at least one other person imprisoned by their anxiety, to seek help, embrace the needed changes, and take back their life.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

BenhavenCounseling.com

Blog: RuledByFear.com

www.OneStepataTime.com

1 Comment :, , , , more...

A Child in Pain

by on Sep.09, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Not much strikes the heart as deeply as seeing a child in pain ,

Over the last year alone, I have seen a significant increase in the number of children experiencing significant anxiety symptoms that manifest themselves with physical or behavioral symptoms.   The physical symptoms were what drew the attention of the parents and physicians, as would be expected, however after medical exams and tests, there was no medical reasons found for the childrens’ pain. Examples might be : a child who begins manifesting behaviors like having to carry out bedtime rituals that go on for hours ; a child experiencing physical pain that caused him to need crutches months after he had physically healed from a sprained ankle ( psychosomatic pain ) ; a child who had not spoken ( selective mutism ) in eight years ; or a child who had fallen during a soccer game only to claim he had lost feelings in his legs.

In these and other cases , there were no medical or physical reasons for  what the children were experiencing, however, their pain was real. In order to overcome their symptoms, each had to realize it was emotional pain and conflict that was the trigger for their continued physical pain. If there was previous harm that existed as in the child with the sprained ankle, or the young man taking a fall at a game, time had passed so that even though the pain was not still caused by those accidents, the emotional pain travelled to the weak or previously damaged part of the body [ the proverbial Achilles Heal ].  Each learned to overcome their symptoms because they were open minded and faced their fears and conflicts and made certain changes that helped them feel more “in control ” of their lives.

The many adults I work with have a harder time accepting the reality of what the mind can create when we are in emotional / psychological pain due to conflict.

When I say to the child, ” I know you are not faking or making up your pain, your symptoms are real, and we are going to learn to find and deal with the reason for the emotional pain that has caused physical pain in your body “, I am giving him hope against his fears that there is something ” really wrong ” .  These kids were scared as they did not understand what was happening to them.  Even the most loving parents become frustrated and begin to wonder if their child is faking, or whether their is some more serious disorder. The parents’ frustration  can often exacerbate their child’s symptoms. So obviously , the parents must learn along with their child so that their anxiety for their child does not cause the child to feel guilty or like a bad  person.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

BenhavenCounseling.com

Blog : RuledByFear.com

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , more...

Hidden Agendas…Why We Hit a Wall !

by on Aug.12, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Do you have any hidden agendas ? That is seldom an easy question to answer, but it is at the same time, one that I feel is extremely important to ask.

By hidden agendas, i am specifically talking about either conscious, subconscious but possibly unconscious reasons to behave in a certain way, or focus on certain feelings, even obsess on some hurt or emotional pain.

Let me give you some examples.

a] Every time a young lady seems to find herself becoming more comfortable in a relationship, she begins to find fault with the guy, picks fights over trivial issues, and within weeks, breaks off the relationship. There might easily be some fears  and insecurities just below the surface, or then again, deeply buried, that cause her to sabotage each relationship.

b] Although I have enjoyed success in helping many people understand and conquer their panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive behaviors, I have also witnessed a percentage of clients who just make so much progress, but then seem to hit a wall. They say they feel better and have more control over symptoms, but I also see that they hold on to certain symptoms which limit or restrict their lives. I am very happy to see their progress, but it is very evident that something is holding back complete success. Why? There are times when certain symptoms serve a secondary purpose.
A client who could not drive due to panic attacks, now can drive where she “needs” to go, but won’t stretch further because if she is free of anxiety, people will expect too much from her and she will feel overwhelmed as she once did when the panic first began. Get the idea ?

Often the person does not consciously realize they are sabotaging their own progress. A person often tries to bury their fears and self-sabotaging negative thoughts since they are so uncomfortable. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, even fear of success can cause a person to limit how far he or she goes to take control of their life.

” It makes me feel so weak to say this but what if the guy I am engaged to  finds himself unhappy with me ten years down the road? He may leave me !”

” I can never do enough to please my mom. If I do more, that will become the new standard, and then I have to do even more. I can never win.”

” I am not happy in this relationship, but I see so many people struggling after a divorce. Maybe his verbal abuse is not so bad. At least I have a roof over my head.”

You might get the picture that many hidden agendas are the result of a person’s insecurities, a lack of trust and faith in his or her ability to survive without others. And yes, much of the insecurity is based early life experiences and learned fears. Most of us do feel we need other people in our lives, but that does not have to make us dependent. Dependency breeds weakness. However, good healthy interactions with others where you also allow yourself to grow and stretch with new experiences, where you create a life for yourself with goals and steps to accomplish those goals, and where you see yourself able to express your thoughts and opinions in a respectful but open manner are the cornerstones for a more healthy self-esteem.

Where self-esteem is nurtured, hidden agendas atrophy. One needs not to have excuses to emotionally or psychologically protect himself or herself  when self confidence and trust in self assures you that you will do what is best for you.

When I see a client hitting that invisible but all to real “wall”, I know what we have to do. The goal becomes to take advantage of the progress the client has made to emphasize  what she now sees she is capable of doing, and then using the lessons learned to identify and then conquer the fears that come out as the triggers for self-sabotage. It is always amazing how surprised many clients are to see the issues, just below the surface, that hold them back. This can change his or her life forever. I have to admit, I never get tired of experiencing that kind of growth on the part of a client, it is a phenomenal feeling.

Hopefully, this is food for thought !

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist, Coach
Blog: www.RuledByFear.com
Support Group and Newsletter: www.OneStepataTime.com

3 Comments :, , , , , , , , , , more...

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

3 Comments :, , , , , , , , more...

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!