When Fear Rules !

Tag: Change

Why We Fail ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com

Private Practice: www.BenhavenCounseling.com

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

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

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

First, Go to : www.OneStepataTime.com

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

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

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

How to Log-on to Chat Software

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

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

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

Sign in using your User ID and Password

Click on Support Group

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

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

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

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

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Why Am I Having Panic Attacks ?

by on Sep.30, 2013, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Why Am I Having Panic Attacks ?

When a person experiences a panic attack, it is a horribly frightening experience that he or she is unlikely to forget. In fact, the fear of having another such experience can often bring on another one.  Then the stage is set where one might find himself or herself avoiding doing things to avoid another incident which can be very alarming and embarrassing.

Unless the person is dealing with some obvious and major crisis or trauma, the  victim of a PA is so focused on their symptoms that they don’t take time to realize the source of their symptoms. Typically, the anxious person will look for a quick remedy through medications. While medications are quite often necessary and helpful,  they do not always offer a cure. I always recommend that anyone experiencing panic attacks seeks medical intervention. You want to make sure there are no physical causes for your symptoms, or that the symptoms are not exacerbated by some condition like thyroid imbalances, hypoglycemia,  etc. Then I recommend you see a therapist who is experienced with treating panic attacks.

Now is there a cure for the heart palpitating, chest beating, frantic shortness of breath or that light-headed dizzying feeling that may be a PA ? Well, in my opinion, there is no quick fix or magic pill, but with hard work, soul-searching under the guidance of a trained professional counselor, and a focus not only on learning how to deal with and desensitize to the symptoms, but also discovering and taking steps to face the source of the anxiety, you can learn to control your symptoms. Dare I say, I have had many a client who no longer experiences panic attacks.

At first, the true source can be a very evasive issue as we tend to look for something traumatic, some overwhelming crisis. Not that panic attacks cannot occur as a result of some tragedy, but in my experience, the source for many panic attacks tends to be “personal conflicts ” that cause us to feel trapped, out of control and overwhelmed rather than traumas. 

A suggestion is that you might look at issues, be they people or situations in your life that you might be avoiding. We do not avoid without paying a price in our thoughts.

I will expand on this topic by offering examples in my next article to see if I can stimulate even more soul searching on your part.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Blog : RuledByFear.com

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Can you be honest with yourself ?

by on Sep.24, 2013, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

You have to be especially and sometimes painfully honest with yourself if you truly want to feel in control of your life  and master real control of your anxieties. Whether in the form of panic attacks, obsessive thoughts or other physical manifestations of anxiety and stress, you have to get a true handle on why this is happening to you, not just treat the symptoms. 

Clients I work with are usually just normal people who are experiencing symptoms of anxiety because they are feeling overwhelmed in some important aspect of their lives or feel in conflict, often over their dealing, or lack of dealing with certain difficult people in their lives. 

The symptoms themselves  tend to cause a person to feel a sense of being out of control, and thereby distract the client from looking at the true source, the reason they are having symptoms. This is where the personal soul-searching and down in the gut honesty with oneself is critical. So often, the source issue that is adding to one’s sense of being overwhelmed truly is something or someone we are avoiding, not wanting to see or deal with. You cannot truly avoid without consequences, unless maybe one has no conscience. YOU KNOW at some level that you are avoiding, and that triggers even more stress, that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Take a few minutes to assess the potential sources for your anxiety, especially that persistent anxiousness.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com

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Fear Grows in an Atmosphere of Avoidance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Benhaven Counseling, LLC

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com

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That Look of Being Overwhelmed and Trapped !

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

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

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

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

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

Read more: http://artists.letssingit.com/kacey-musgraves-lyrics-merry-go-round-vlwdr26#ixzz2KVwrcQL7
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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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

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