When Fear Rules !

Tag: Rejection

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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Out of Control !

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

Out of Control !

One message I have often repeated in my blog and newsletter is that significant anxiety symptoms, especially in the form of panic attacks or obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, often tend to sneak up on their victims. This is why, in my opinion,  so many of my clients have said, ” These symptoms just seem to have come from out of the blue ! ”
 
Well, I truly believe that these symptoms have a cause and therefore need to be treated not just with medications, but with a structured game plan  where therapy helps the suffering individual realize and deal with the causes as well as the resulting fears and symptoms.

The symptoms can be very overwhelming to be sure, and the natural want to control those symptoms leads most clients to medications. I fully understand and appreciate that fact. However, medications, although sometimes helpful, may curb or limit the symptoms, but I seriously question that they are actually treating the cause unless there is found a true medical source for those symptoms. Even when there are thyroid issues, hypoglycemia or other conditions that may predispose a person to anxiety symptoms, while those conditions need to be treated medically, I have not found that the panic or OCD stops after such treatment. Make no mistake, if true medical or neurological conditions exist, by all means they should be treated. I have just not found that to be the case for the vast majority of especially the panic attack or OCD  clients I have worked with during the past forty years.

As just another yet very vivid example of how anxiety symptoms can mask or distract a person from the  true sources for the pain they are feeling, I offer the following :

What I observed of this woman as she sat across from me for the first time was the look of full-blown terror painted on her face and of course  her tears of frustration and hopelessness. She  was feeling totally out of control physically and emotionally, and her husband sitting next to her felt helpless.

No, her focus was not on her panic attacks which she hardly mentioned. Understandably, she was focused instead on the horrible withdrawal symptoms she was experiencing week after week after she stopped taking Xanax. 

She seemed obsessed with making sure I understood that the symptoms she was feeling were real, that she was not making them up, so I just listened at first.
She felt her skin crawling, she could not stay focused  on any one thing as her thoughts ran away from her. She physically and mentally felt out of control, and was dwelling on whether she had some kind of brain or nervous system damage due to previously being on Xanax, at 3 mg. a day.

I knew I had to bring her to a point where I could help her to focus on why all this was happening, but that was a challenge as anything I said was not being heard over the dominant fear-based chatter going on in her head. I realized the withdrawal symptoms were real, but her fears and resulting anxiety were making all her symptoms worse.

So after listening to her intently, and showing acknowledgment and respect for all she was going through, I asked her…. ” Why were you put on Xanax, especially that high of a dosage, to begin with ?” She had to collect her thoughts and wipe her tears, and I could see that look on her face that almost cried out, ” What does that matter ? ” However, after a few seconds and with her spouse’s urging, she related a story of being  a rather perfectionistic wife, mother and loyal friend who was just helping neighbors through a difficult crisis in their lives when ” this anxiety just came over me ! ” She ended up in the ER, then being seen by the hospital’s house psychiatrist, and was placed on the rather significant dose of Xanax. From that point on, it became all about her unreal feelings while taking the medications, and the horrible withdrawal symptoms once she stopped the meds.

I brought her back around to the reality that, as the doctors had told her,  the medications would gradually work their way out of her system, and she should continue working with her PCP regarding her physical symptoms, but that I wanted to refocus on the true source of the anxiety, as her withdrawal symptoms had all but distracted her from the real problem.

So then she listened as I told her about herself, where I described her perfectionistic and caregiving personality which had run unchecked and unbridled for many years leading to her gradually overwhelming herself, and creating anxiety and panic attacks. In essence, I was describing a good person, well-meaning and caring, who was burning the candle at both ends. She sat there acknowledging that yes, she did tend to take on too much, and rarely could say no to anyone’s request for her help. Why not, it felt good to be needed and see herself as useful and well-liked ! How could that be a problem !

I could see her husband’s facial gestures and eye-rolling that all but said that his wife was minimizing the extent to which SHE OVER-EXTENDED herself all the time. She was addicted to pleasing !  However, without boundaries, that need to be needed and fix others had become a self-sabotaging path to disaster.  I expressed to her that this is less a disease, and more of a reaction to her habitual, compulsive pattern of overwhelming herself because her very positive personality characteristics had run amok and caused her to unravel.

Once she realized what had happened and truly embraced it, and that took some time and soul-searching, she learned to set healthy limits and boundaries. She learned she was not broken, and that she could be better than she was before, as she could still be who she was, but would make smarter choices. Her pain taught her to take better care of herself. Unfortunately, without pain, she would never have seriously considered change. Would you ?

She had to realize that all she had been through was not a sign of weakness, but a sign that corrections needed to be made where she created a greater balance in her life between being there for others and being there for herself. She was not needy, but she had needs. She was not selfish, but needed to take care of herself. She could be there for others, but knew where to draw the line so that the energy she put into others was better matched with the energy coming back.

Oh, she would still screw up at times and have little setbacks as old habits are hard to break, but she would catch herself and readjust. That’s how it works !

Just a thought or two !

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

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com

On Line Support Group: www.OneStepataTime.com

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Why We Fail ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com

Private Practice: www.BenhavenCounseling.com

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

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

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

First, Go to : www.OneStepataTime.com

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

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

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

How to Log-on to Chat Software

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

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

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

Sign in using your User ID and Password

Click on Support Group

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

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

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

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

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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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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

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

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Neutralizing Negative People !

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

 

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

Dear Coach,

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

 

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

 

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

 

B.G.

Dear B.G.,

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist / Coach

 

Benhaven Counseling.com

 

On-Line Support Group: www.OneStepataTime.com

 

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com

 

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/groups/RuledByFear

 

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Being Manipulated !

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

 

 

 

Free On-Line Support Groups: OneStepataTime.com

 

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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

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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

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When Children Show Compulsive Behaviors !

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

When Children Show Compulsive Behaviors

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