When Fear Rules !

Tag: self confidence

They walk among us, the Sociopaths.

by on Dec.29, 2017, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, Bullying, STOPPING ABUSE

It was said by Mark Twain that “ Truth is stranger than fiction !” In my line of work as a therapist, I have never been able to desensitize to the fact that when you are dealing with human beings, the truth is often more painful, destructive and bone chilling than fiction, yet at the same time ignored, denied to oneself and rationalized as, “ No, that could not happen !

Truth is real, and although often ignored at our own peril, there are consequences for when it is not dealt with openly and upfront.

Now, as a Psychologist for some forty-two years, I have specialized in dealing with severe anxiety, panic attacks, phobias and agoraphobia with some real success. But, the use of medications to extinguish the anxiety, in most cases, was only putting salve on the wounds, not fixing the causes or source for the anxiety. I was never satisfied with this, so for those not wanting a temporary fix, but a successful treatment to find and eliminate the source, I had much success. I will stress that at least fifty percent only wanted the medications, and would find themselves getting worse over the years.

Having had panic attacks when I was younger, and working through the causal factors, gave me a heads up to help others, but it was still a challenge.

One thing I learned, and this is an over-simpllification, is that most of the anxiety that was experienced by my clients was due to conflicts or issues in their life that they were avoiding, for fear of failure, rejection, ridicule for shame. They had learned, mostly since childhood, to avoid conflict. Most of them had at least one person in their life that they just could not please, and that list of persons grew as they went through life. They were addicted to pleasing, adapting to fit in, and conforming to seek approval. They were already setting themselves up for conflict.

It is my impression that at least a third of the population are caregivers, conformers or a subtype of perfectionists who fit into this group of adapting personalities. The rest are either so focused on success and are less emotional so they do not need approval, get their dose of approval from what they do, or have less empathy and less a realization as to how things they say or do effect others so that they experience less anxiety and conflict.

Then there are the Sociopaths who take this lack of emotional need for approval, to another extreme. These manipulative, often very successful, charming personalities have the natural characteristic to look for other’s weaknesses and use them for their own advanatage…..

This is a true story, of Maggie, a wonderful, bright but adapting and caring personality and her battle to deal with manipulative people, one being a sociopath, and her struggles to find her way. It is a sad story, but a true story. It was the most challenging and tragic story, with only saving grace being that she wanted it to be THE story that would save others.

I was not her therapist, but took on the role of a Coach, because she came to me through a website and chat room I offered every Sunday evening. The goal of this service was to reinforce skills that I taught to my clients, but also to find a source of therapy for each person that was not able to be seen personally by me for face to face therapy. I never met Maggie, but talked with her on the phone and we communicated by writing. I came to know her very well.

It has taken me six years to be able to write this book, but I promised her I would do so in her name and to hopefully prevent at least one other person from falling deeper into the grips of a sociopath.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “ I do not know any sociopaths !” My response is that you most likely have such a personality within your extended family, friends, colleagues and do not realize it. Charming for sure, but if you dare explore most closely, they are selfish, say what you want to hear, but do what they want without a hint of care for how it effects you. They are specialists at manipulation. They use awareness of what you might be sensitive about, mistakes you have made, to have leverage and use the tools of blame, shame or guilt to have control over others.

I can say that at this moment, I know of mothers and fathers who are sociopaths, High School Principals who are sociopaths, parish priests who are sociopaths and therapists who are sociopaths. These are real people, who can entrench themselves into your life as they have my clients. To be armed to protect yourself from their manipulative ways, you need to know they exist and set strong boundaries while at the same time finding healthy ways to meet your emotional needs.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
The Benhaven Group

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Needing a Sense of Pupose !

by on Dec.24, 2017, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

I have previously held the belief that people, by nature, want to feel a sense of worth and value to their lives, not just exist, or be dependent. Further, I always believed that people thrive when they have goals, feel they are doing something meaningful and purposeful on a day to day basis. Don’t people feel a little “high” when the have stretched and conquered an issue, problem or challenge ?

I guess I still believe all that, because, everyday in my work as a therapist, I see that most of the clients who are experiencing anxiety or depression report that they feel stuck or trapped in their lives. They often begrudgingly report that they have given in to their fears of failure and rejection and have become complacent. Further, they painfully admit to themselves that they have avoided change, options to grow and stretch.The slippery slope of avoidance can take a person down to the point that he or she cannot see any chance of digging their way out. Avoidance warps our sense of self, diminishes our self-esteem which further limits our ability to change and grow.

How many mornings do you wake up excited about what you are planning to do that day ? When was the last time you felt you were doing something really meaningful in your life ? Do you have goals at work that get your adrenalin pumping ? Do you feel a passion in your life ? Do you feel your relationship with your spouse and kids is where you want it to be ?

You cannot truly avoid the reality of avoidance in your life ! You may deny it to others, but you know. It haunts you in your private moments.

When I sit with most of my clents, what I see behind the cloudiness of their symptoms is often the reality, that somewhere along their life, they lost their sense of purpose.

Out of fear of failure or rejection, or due to the erosion of self-esteem that comes from avoiding challenges to their personal growth, they often do not consciously realize that they have lost a sense of meaning to their lives. They are just so focused on how they feel, which is either anxious or depressed, that they are unaware that much of what they feel is a result of the complacency that has crept into their lives, the lack of intimacy they are experiencing, the lack of involvement in anything truly special for which they could feel passionate.

So, ask yourself, when was the last time you felt passionate about anything special going on in your life ? It is never too late to embrace change !

Yes, I know change can be scary at times. But when you set a reasonable goal to face something or someone you have avoided, and then create a hierarchy of steps to approach that person or issue, each step can help to motivate the next step to be taken.
Nose of
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist / Coach

www.RuledByFear.com

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Why Not Say Merry Christmas ???

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

I just stepped off the elevator at a very beautiful, palm-treed and lush resort where my wife and I chose to spend Christmas. It was an awkward moment as this resort is a very popular destination for families of all nationalities, faiths and backgrounds. When a middle aged gentleman hopped on the elevator, we wished him a Merry Christmas. The look on his face was one of being startled. He responded with a “ Merry Christmas “ , but then added, “I do not know what to say when I meet someone or pass them by them. Is it alright to wish them a Merry Christmas or will they be offended ? So I just don’t say anything ! “ Now, turns out that this man was happy to respond in kind after his initial hesitation, but how seriously pathetic is it that we feel the urge to avoid, to hold back offering an expression of greeting during the Holidays that has been so traditional throughout our lives. We have every right to CELEBRATE our faith and beliefs, as long as we are respectful of the faith and believes of others who are like-wise respectful.

So, in fact, it seems as if seventy-five percent of those we greet have no problem responding, but at least half of those have that expression on their faces as if to say, “ Is it alright ! “ If they don’t respond, we just smiled and walked on. If they returned a “Happy Holidays”, we accepted and respected that response and again smiled, and moved on. But when they bid us a Merry Christmas in return, it frequently led to some extended friendly words about how they were enjoying their Christmas vacation. That is how friendships are born.

Our Government has not yet banned the expression, Merry Christmas, but I know there are some who would want to do just that from my discussions with them. We must stop LIVING IN FEAR of people’s reactions to our freedom of expression, not just about Christmas, but to our entire belief system as Christians. I know my share of people who are of the Moslem or other faiths. I respect their beliefs as long as they do not infringe on mine. But this effort by some to be “ politically correct “ is damaging to the very fabric of America, and is truly a destructive force. Our silence to these issues energizes those who would take control. Now, don’t be naive. There are forces out their whose main goal is that of control. Control is power, and power leads to destructive forces and changes that shatter the very moral fiber of this Great Society. Now, there is no doubt we have made mistakes as a country, but we have learned some painful lessons from those errors in judgement. We are better for that ! It is natural for any government to become bloated with power and lose sight of what is good for the people it was intended to protect. I am not Republican or Democrat [ they are all the same anyway ]. I am an American and a Christian, and I respect the beliefs and rights of others who do not infringe on my rights and beliefs, plain and simple.

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

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Destroyed by His Words !

by on Aug.07, 2015, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

Destroyed by His Words !

He is a Narcissistic Sociopath, and although he is very real, I will give him a fictitious name, Lucius. Upon my exposing him for what he was, he actually bragged and boasted about the “tools” he possessed that allowed him to control and manipulate people, both in business and in his personal life.

Lucius recognized as a teenager, that the things he said and the way he treated people caused them to be “like putty in my hands, allowing me to mold them into thinking and doing what I wanted”. As he became an adult, his awareness of his power over people grew by leaps and bounds. No one was safe from his manipulation, even his own daughter.

Being an attorney who specialized in medical malpractice suites in which he was ruthless and gained a mind-numbing reputation, Lucius would explain how he got a dopamine rush, a surge of adrenaline, realizing the power he had over people. He used that power not just in building a rather successful practice, but systematically taking control of his wife, their sexual interactions and her life by making her a victim of abuse that weakened a once strong woman with a career of her own, turning her into an emotionally weak, dependent blob.

My stomach turned and I felt nauseated as I knew that there had been many a victim who fell prey to this man’s initial charm and gradual degrading of their self-esteem as he manipulated his potential victim’s thoughts and behaviors by using tools such as blame, shame and guilt. Oh he was good at it, and he knew it. The smirk on his face said it all.

Lucius knew that I was aware of what he had done to destroy his own daughter’s will to live, and what he was now attempting to do was use his skills of manipulation and control to shut me down. He calmly said,
” You do not know who you are dealing with ! I can and will destroy you ! No one will believe anything you say anyway ! ” He was using fear tactics, which he was quite accomplished at due to his lack of conscience.

Then he said something I will never forget. “Everyone has made mistakes. Every man and woman on the face the earth who has a conscience has something they regret, or have done or avoided something for which feel shame or guilt. I know how to find out about a person’s past, and I will find a way to take advantage of whatever weakness or fear that a person has and I will use that knowledge to take control ! ”

Yes, he was a narcissistic sociopath, but what is critical to understand is that the only real control he would have over his victim would be if he or she gave into their fear.

Someday soon I will share the rest of this true story.

Something I learned from all of this over time, and now forty years of practice, is that there are far many more borderline or full-blown sociopathic personalities among us breathing the same air we do, every day of our lives. Their narcissistic and self-absorbing care for themselves and superficial show of care and concern for others is of course a tell-tale sign. But their ability to lie to our faces, and effectively try to find and take full advantage of the weakness in anyone who would challenge them, has at times made them all powerful. One of the primary strengths, and at the same time weaknesses in some of us that make us potential victims to manipulation is that some we have a conscience, are capable of feeling guilt, and have less of an ability to recognize evil in other people.

When many of us come up against people like Lucius, we just want to walk away , avoid them.
What can you do to defend yourself from such people ?

First, be aware that many such people exist. Watch for the signs, as they can lie to your face without flinching. If you can feel something uncomfortable, don’t ignore what you feel.

Don’t be mesmerized by what other people say about this person, think for yourself ! There have been many times in history where the minds of intelligent people have been paralyzed by the charisma of a charming, well-spoken person. All the while, below the surface may smolder the agenda of a selfish, control-seeking personality. There are many instances in history, where a person with a charismatic nature, who speaks well and seems to have their act together, takes over the minds of others who may know better but avoid being the one to speak up. Although I admired much about John F. Kennedy, the “Bay of Pigs” issue comes to mind where it is reported that many in his Cabinet had serious issues and conflicts with his decisions, but never expressed their warnings.

Realize that many controlling and manipulative people will say what you want to hear, but do what they want to do. So listen to their language. Do they follow the rules of respectfully dealing with others, or do they have some uncanny way of creating diversions and chaos, and then do their deeds amongst all the chaos and before the smoke clears ? When questioned, do they really answer the concerns others express or turn to comments that are an attempt to make you feel that if you do not agree with them, you are somehow a racist, a bigot, or an uncaring person ?

Life can be hard at times, but good hard work and effort to better yourself builds pride and character. If someone offers you something for nothing, it is a pretty good sign you will end up with nothing,

If you are an adapting or approval seeking personality, you are easy prey for the narcissistic, manipulative personality types. They can smell the want for approval and acceptance in other people.

Once a person gets sucked into the space of the narcissistic sociopath, a dependency is formed on that person’s approval. Then, after becoming a victim, you may not be willing to admit to yourself that you were suckered, so you say nothing, and that avoidance causes you to feel even less in control of your life, which makes you even more vulnerable.

This phenomenon occurs in business as well as personal relationships. How many people do you know that are stuck in unhealthy marriages, where one of the partners shames. blames and guilts the other to silence their legitimate complaints ? Why do so many remain in those unhealthy, esteem destroying relationships for so long ?

Express yourself and your feelings about persons that your gut tells you are manipulative, controlling and lying, but don’t spew hatred. Speak respectfully and repeatedly, saying as an example “ I appreciate your thoughts and opinions, but I do not agree with you !” Then don’t get dragged into defending yourself as the other narcissistic or sociopathic personality type will surely try to convince you that you are wrong. Just repeat yourself !!! In this way you are respectfully expressing an opinion without feeling the guilt of being hateful or mean, thereby not triggering so much shame within yourself. I have had many a client who was a victim of emotional or sexual abuse, whose abuser would try to turn the shame and guilt machine on them big time by saying, “ See, you are feeling so much anger towards me right know, which makes you feel dark and ugly inside, so you are no better than me !”

So, think hard about this as the abuse may be more subtle, but it is still abuse when a person uses words to manipulate you. Don’t allow fear to rule your life, you deserve better than that.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
The Benhaven Group, LLC
www.RuledByFear
www.FearRulesYourLife.com

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At Risk…Your Self-Worth !

by on Nov.25, 2013, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

So I was talking to a very dear but struggling young lady who was sharing with me her excruciating pain and overwhelming confusion after being molested by a “man of the cloth”. I never get use to hearing such gut-wrenching stories of the dark side of mankind. This ” not so holy ” man manipulated this child of thirteen with kind words, then after molesting her, used the abuser’s most common tools to silence his victim, blame, shame a guilt ! Once she realized what his true agenda was, she was overwhelmed with fear as she felt trapped and paralyzed by his words :

” No one will believe you, so save your breath.”

” I am a messenger of God, so if you say anything, I will pray so that your little brothers and sisters will all burn in hell ! Do you want to be responsible for that happening ? ”

” I can tell that you liked some of what I did to you, it felt good didn’t it ? See, you wanted it ! ”

” Ah, you are angry with me, you feel hatred right now don’t you ? Hatred is a sin. God is angry with you feeling hate. ”

I have heard all this way too many times before as I have dealt with other victims of abuse. Yes, it makes me angry that some of those we share this planet with can justify and rationalize doing what they do to manipulate and control other innocent people for their personal needs and agendas.
Certainly one might say that this “unholy man ” has some sexual addiction issues, but regardless of whether his addiction is related to the need for sex, alcohol, drugs…or power, his lack of conscience, utter void of empathy, allowed him to cross the lines of decency.

As if the above scenario is not troubling enough, an even more flagrant example of manipulation and control was when I dealt with a father who had repeatedly, “emotionaly” and sexually abused his daughter up to the day she ended her pain and suffering at her own hands. He too used the tools of blame, shame and guilt not only to permanently silence his daughter, but also to emotionally paralyzed her aunt and uncle who swore to protect her. In the end, not wanting to truly admit how evil he was, they too fell victim to shame and guilt. Effectively silencing and eliminating any witnesses to his crimes of passion and abuse [ a long and painful story }, he walks freely even today.

Certainly, the above two examples might be labeled the actions of sociopaths for the degree or heights to which they could lie and abuse, justify and rationalize, and in the end, escape punishment. Neither had a conscience and therefore each was able to deny any wrong doing with a smile on their face and not a bead of sweat on their brow. In reality, further exploration into each case yielded a history of previous deception, abuse and manipulation, but you guessed it, never a charge was brought against either man in the past. They lied so effectively ! They manipulated their victims with blame, shame and guilt so cunningly, that there was no one who would speak up.

Each victim or witness was silenced because of their fear. That is what happens when a victim goes up against a person without conscience all alone.

Yet I also am witnessing first-hand that we, yes you and I, enable, I dare say allow or give power to those who would abuse, to those who would use their power to control and manipulate, whatever their addiction. Put aside the sexual abuse of the previous examples for a moment. The REAL damage was done as a result of the emotional and psychogical abuse and control. There are those who thirst for power and control over others, professing to do so for your own good. We live in an age where lies roll off the tongues of those void of conscience, where we have become complacent to open examples of manipulation, where evil is just ignored, and therefore, in a word, encouraged. Certainly our fears play a part in this avoidance, as in fear of reprisal, ending up on someone’s “hit” list, the fear of rejection or embarrassment. But make no mistake, don’t try to ” avoid ” the reality that one reason these people get away with what they do is because we do not rise up individually and collectively and say NO more !

Have you been witness to any person in power lying to you, deceiving you, manipulating you ? Have you doubted that person meant to lie, or tried to rationalize to yourself the person did not mean to deceive, but maybe was simply deceived by others, just didn’t know the truth ? Have you listened carefully to the words the potential deceiver uses to explain himself or herself ? Have you heard this individual use the tools of blaming others, shaming those who would question his or her past actions, comments or veracity or play the guilt card to distract you from the reality of whatever his or her agenda might be ? Do you think fear might at times blind you to the truth because it is too uncomfortable to see the dark side of mankind ? Do you feel how uncomfortable it is to face even the thought of dealing with someone who has little or no conscience, or even more painfully realize you have been duped by such a person you previously admired ?

Of course, you may not talk about it with anyone for fear they will find fault with your thoughts and feelings. By avoiding the issue, you are empowering people in your life who would emotionally and psychologically control or manipulate you and others just as the two persons I mentioned above. Oh certainly, the manipuation may not be a horrid as the examples I gave, nonetheless, the effect on your self-image is surely there. It is our self-esteem, self-respect and moral fiber that is at stake. When we do not take action against those who would lie to our faces, and manipulate without hesitation, it is worse than giving up an arm and a leg, as it is your personal sense of worth and value at risk.

Just a thought !

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

Blog : RuledByFear.com

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

Blog : RuledByFear.com

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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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” Let No Crisis Go to Waste “

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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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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Irrational Thoughts and Fears

by on Jan.27, 2013, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

 

Finding oneself obsessed with thoughts of some health crisis  when none exists so that every ache or pain is thought to be a heart attack or signs of a brain tumor, worrying about contamination by germs to the point that one is fearful to leave their home, feeling this urge to have to drive back to an intersection to make sure you did not hit anyone although their was no evidence of such an act, are often referred to as irrational thoughts, part of a complex condition called Obesessive-Compulsive Disorder.

 

Now if you have never experienced these symptoms, you might scoff at the idea, and think to yourself, that sounds crazy. In fact, symptoms obsessive-compulsive dwelling on some irrational thought or a compulsive urge to repeat some behavior is much more common that you might think. And, I am seeing more and more children with these symptoms.

 

In reality, I think we all have at least some minor form of OCD. However, when “crazy” thoughts come into our heads, some might just blow them off dismissing them as something trivial. But what I have found is that the brighter we are, when we are feeling overwhelmed or in  some personal crisis, panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive behaviors are very common. In the case of many of my clients, I find these very uncomfortable obsessive thoughts to be just another painful reaction to anxiety and typically avoidance of issues and  conflict in one’s life.

 

These intrusive thoughts have a source, there is a reason why they are creating havoc in many people’s lives, but so often, the real triggers for these intrusive thoughts are ignored because for one thing, the actual thoughts become so frightening that that is all the  person is focused on ! On the other hand, treatment for obsessive thoughts is often so focused on medications, which may or may not bring about some decrease in the thoughts, that not enough  time is spent by therapists or psychiatrists to actually do therapy.

 

Therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder can be a rather intense experience, but when done effectively, cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure therapy works.
To challenge any anxiety symptoms, whether panic attacks, phobias or obsessive thoughts, the client must understand there is a reason why this is happening since goals must be set to deal effectively with the sources of conflict and pain in one’s life.

 

Self-Esteem is a very important part of our defense against anxiety symptoms. How we see ourselves, how we talk to ourselves in our private thoughts has everything to do with whether we are more or less vulnerable to anxiety symptoms and irrational fears.

The more pride one has for what he { or she } is achieving, the more one is willing to challenge herself to grow and stretch in her life’s work, and the more a person sees that she is taking steps to face issues rather than avoid them, the more positive that person’s self-talk will be. If one has avoided issues, is shied away from taking steps towards any of their dreams, the more likely their self-talk will be laden with negative, self-depricating thoughts.

 

If you do find yourself experiencing these intrusive thoughts or  catch yourself needing to carry out rituals before you can move on to some other task, you might consider talking to a therapist in your area who specializes in treating these types of anxiety disorders.

 

Treatment works if you are willing to take the necessary steps, and the first step is to talk to a specialist. You are not crazy or losing your mind, but allowing these symptoms to go unchecked can lead to serious emotional and behavioral impairment, and that is so un-necessary.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Benhaven Counseling, LLC

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com
On-Line Support Group: www.OneStepataTime.com

 

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