When Fear Rules !

Tag: Self-esteem

Why We Fail ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com

Private Practice: www.BenhavenCounseling.com

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

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

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

First, Go to : www.OneStepataTime.com

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

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

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

How to Log-on to Chat Software

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

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

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

Sign in using your User ID and Password

Click on Support Group

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

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

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

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

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Why Am I Having Panic Attacks ?

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

Why Am I Having Panic Attacks ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Blog : RuledByFear.com

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Think About This, Feel About That !

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

 

Think About This, Feel About That !

What do you REALLY think and feel ?

What do you REALLY think and feel ?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

 

Benhaven Counseling, LLC

 

Blog: RuledByFear.com

 

Newsletter and On-Line Support Group: OneStepataTime.com

 

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Intrusive Thoughts Paralyze

by on Mar.17, 2013, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

I spend much of my time as a therapist helping people who have Intrusive Thoughts, where a person obsesses over something, often an irrational thought, to the point that it can paralyze them from getting anything meaningful done for hours if not days.

For some, the focus of their thoughts is on some health issue, and most often not an actual physical issue they are dealing with but one they fear might arise. Every ache or pain triggers the fear of something more serious lurking around the corner.

Others find themselves spending vast amounts of their energy avoiding germs, not necessarily because they have had some disease, but they experience this urge, this unexplainable need to wash their hands repeatedly, or to shower multiple times before they feel comfortable enough to move on.

Still others find themselves checking their work over and over for fear that there is something they are missing that could lead to a disaster, failure or rejection.

A person can find himself obsessing over anything and then compulsively needing to carry out some repetitive behavior like checking, reorganizing and repeating some behavior while his day is passing him by. The nature of the thoughts and the resulting rituals know no boundaries, but they can be paralyzing.

If you have not experienced a form of obsessive-compulsive behavior, you may think it odd that others do. Certainly, some individuals who do find themselves trapped in the endless pattern of obsessing and carrying out rituals are the butt of jokes and sitcoms. But the reality is, many people suffer from this anxiety disorder and it is quite emotionally painful.

Having had a turn at obsessive-compulsive behaviors of my own,  I enjoy working with these individuals in therapy, because I understand them. Of course I find them intelligent and truly wanting to find an avenue to control their thoughts and rituals. They are most often driven to find answers. There are most often sensitive, empathetic, adapting and caring people.

But what I also find is that they are people who have experienced emotional  conflicts in their lives, where they are caught between doing what they feel they should, what is expected of them versus doing what they want, what is personally satisfying. It might be a child  experiencing her first taste of rejection at the hands of a new student that she attempted to befriend, only to find the new friend bad-talking her to others. It might be an adolescent experiencing normal sexual urges but also being sensitive to what he has been taught about being responsible and respectful, what is right and wrong. Does he follow his basic urges, does he experiment and take risks ?  It might be a young man raised in a perfectionistic environment where he feels nothing he does is good enough, yet he gives up being a child to do all he can to please his parents’ expectations.

Emotional  conflicts often cause much frustration and anger, but the emotions are suppressed for fear of rejection. Suppressed emotions can do harm.

Conflict and conflicting emotions, especially anger, tends to create a sense of not being in control. Anger especially can ramp up ones brain chemistry so the person has strange feelings, even panic attacks. Not feeling in control, and not understanding the emotional turmoil that is brewing below the surface only adds to those feeling of not being in control.

This is when the person may find himself having intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, momentary yet irrational thoughts leading to an urge to carry out some ritual, some compulsive behavior. Carrying out the compulsive behavior may give some relief, create a sense that ‘If I do this, I will feel better “, thus creating a temporary sense of control. Then  the compulsive behavior becomes a habit.

When a client is willing to do the work to uncover the emotional conflicts, and also make some changes in how they deal with issues and people in their lives, they can in fact learn to challenge and take control of their intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. The trick is to be able to guide the client to see the true causes and triggers, and offer the needed support while steps are taken to face changes. What these people need most of all is understanding and support. If you know someone with OCD, remember that !

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Newsletter and Support Group : www.OneStepataTime.com
Blog: www.RuledByFear.com
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/groups/RuledByFearhttp://www.dreamstime.com/-image20924564

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The Slippery Slope

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Broken Merry Go Round

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

While taking my puppy Izzy on a ride through the park this morning, I found myself intently listening to the lyrics of a song, ” Merry Go Round ” , by singer Kacey Musgraves…

” Mary Mary quite contrary,We get bored so we get marriedAnd just like dust we settle in this town.On this broken merry go ’round and ’round and ’round we go,Where it stops nobody knows…And it ain’t slowin’ down, this merry go ’round…

We think the first time’s good enough,So we hold on to high school love,Say we won’t end up like our parents.

Tiny little boxes in a row, Ain’t what you want it’s what you know, Just happy in the shoes you’re wearin’.

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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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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Panic Attacks…Find the Source

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This is where it gets tricky !

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Just a Thought !

 

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

 

 

 

On-Line Support Group: OneStepataTime.com

 

 

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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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Escaping Negative Thoughts

by on Nov.04, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Unless you were one of the lucky ones, you learned fears during your childhood that remain active today if you actually listen to your private thoughts.

I was talking with a client recently who, in my opinion, has been putting some significant but inconsistent effort into controlling his anxiety and panic attacks as well as his obsessive-compulsive behaviors [OCD}.

Now, what do we mean by obsessive-compulsive behaviors ? Actually, they are very common, although differing in frequency and certainly intensity, where an individual finds himself feeling an urge to carry out some ritualistic behavior, repeating that behavior to a point that it can be disruptive in his life. I see people suffering from this type of anxiety reaction every day. One person may find himself giving in to the urge to check over his tax return over and over, even though no errors were found. Another might have spilled some cleaning substance on their hands and then found herself washing her hands and arms, repeating the action even when her hands became chapped and bleeding. Then maybe a child feels an urge to say good-night and blow a kiss to each of her more than one hundred stuffed animals before she can go to sleep at night, only to find herself having to repeat the process for over two hours for fear she missed one of her precious inanimate friends.

These rituals can take over one’s life to one degree or another, but are responses to inner conflict that is often hidden to others, and even unknown or unrecognized by the client. My experience is that the conflicts are just below the surface but are issues the person may just not feel able to deal with, thus is consciously or subconsciously avoiding.

The client I was talking with came to realize that his OCD, which had grown in power and was ruling much of his life, was a reaction to conflict. There was an inner desire to do more with his life and escape the shadow cast by his family tree,a history of depression, negativity, avoidance and regret. He came to realize that most of his anxiety was due to the personally painful reality that he had and was avoiding making needed changes in his life. His negative thoughts and fears were echoing through his mind, but more importantly were and still are the habitual thoughts of his past and especially his parents whose lives were ruled by fear.

He could catch himself in his private thoughts saying “I’m not smart enough !”, or ” Who do I think I am, that I could do something special with my life ? “. He had also become vividly aware  through introspection triggered in part by therapy,  that these were the thoughts based on fears of rejection and failure, that he had been taught by his mother. Even recently, when he discussed possibly looking for a another job that was more challenging and he could feel some passion over, his mother, backed by other family members, said ” Just be happy you have a job !”

This client had taken some steps to challenge his fears. He did at one point go back to school to take course he was very interested in, and from that experience, learned that he was not stupid. He was able to master the material, and in fact thrived in that class and others and was actuallycalled upon by the teacher to share more of his thoughts with the class. He found himself actually tutoring others who were struggling more with the classes subject matter. It was very esteeming for him. So, that should have turned his life around, right ? In fact, his obsessive-compulsive behavior was down significantly. He really felt great about the stretching he was doing. However, due to changes with his present but boring job, he was distracted from continuing his course work. His efforts were very positive, but the reality was that once he stopped stretching, he fell back into the gravitational pull of his past negative thoughts, and his family history of self-defeatism. He lost that momentum he had begun by stretching outside his comfort zone.

Now he realizes what happened, that it takes frequent and consistent exercising of one’s energies to escape the gravity of the past.  Just as it does with physical exercise, where muscle turns to flab when the exercise stops, his efforts to challenge his fears worked, but needed to become part of his life, not a past chapter.

So, now he is beginning to edit the book that is the story of his life. Armed with the awareness of what he did, and therefore what he COULD DO, he is working to create an ongoing momentum, one that he must nurture through repeated  experiences that will desensitize him to his fears and emboldenhim to persevere.

How much are you ruled by fear ? How often do you hear yourself uttering or thinking something sabotaging, that shuts you down and causes you to avoid ? Where did you learn fear and avoidance ?

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

Benhaven Counseling

Blog: RuledByFear.com

Free Sunday Eve On-Line Support Group : OneStepataTime.com

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