When Fear Rules !

Tag: trapped

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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Avoidance of Conflict

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

Avoidance Of Conflict

It is so very important to realize that there is almost always a reason why a person is having panic attacks, intrusive thoughts or obsessive worry with compulsive behaviors.

Certainly, trauma can cause these anxiety symptoms, but I rarely find that among the majority of my clients. Stress can surely add to the symptoms, but most often I have found that stress only aggravates the anxiety symptoms.

What I find in most cases is that personal conflict is typically the source. Whereas stress can come and go, conflict hangs over our heads until we deal with it.

Conflict ?

Yes, like feeling trapped in a go-nowhere job but avoiding taking steps to create opportunities to change for fear of failure or rejection.

Maybe feeling stuck in an emotionally, physically or sexually abuse relationship, but avoiding taking steps to remove yourself because of your fears of being alone, or the fear of retaliation.

How many times we want to express ourselves toward someone who is controlling, intrusive or manipulative, but end up avoiding and repressing what we feel.

Key word is avoiding, since avoidance effects how we see ourselves. Avoidance can cause us to feel weak, erodes our self-esteem and leads to our not trusting ourselves.
Of course, when we doubt ourselves, what do we do next ? We WHAT IF ourselves and then we avoid !

There is a reason why the more adapting and approval seeking personalities have more anxiety, panic and OCD symptoms. Their need for approval and want to avoid possible rejection or exclusion makes them fair game for the more manipulative people in the world. All you caregivers, conformers, peacekeepers and perfectionists are really good people but you need to learn to set boundaries with people who would  take advantage of your adapting natures.

In future blog articles, I will address some ways for each personality type to make changes so they might feel more in control, and thereby begin to take control of their anxiety symptoms. I look forward to your comments.

Meanwhile, take a look at our Blog at www.RuledByFear.com

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

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The Slippery Slope of Avoidance

by on Feb.12, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

The Slippery Slope of Avoidance…

We all avoid at times don’t we ? It is probably wise to avoid cheating on our taxes  due to the consequences, although some may choose to do so. I certainly would choose to avoid walking up to an enraged man with a gun.

Some of us are more risk tolerant than others, but we all have our limits. It is wise to protect ourselves by avoiding certain people or situations that could truly harm us isn’t it ? The REAL question is, where  do you draw that line ?

I have many clients who are dealing with controlling, manipulative and even abusive people, and  find themselves avoiding these persons in different ways.

If it is someone you do not need to deal with, it might be wise to pick your battles and move on. However, what if it is a boss or supervisor, or even a friend or family member ?

I typically see these situations arise with clients and they cause a great deal or inner turmoil, and OFTEN LEAD TO ANXIETY SYMPTOMS because AVOIDANCE of these people or situations leads to a slippery slope that is potentially damaging to your self-esteem.

Commonly when it is a boss who is abusing his or her power, four thoughts come to my mind.

First, do all you can to be less vulnerable to that boss. That means always keep your skills, certifications, training and networking in good order, never allowing yourself to become too comfortable, even lazy about making yourself as VALUABLE as you can be. In this way, you are less vulnerable to that boss, or that job. Always be looking as to where your constantly improving credentials and knowledge could be used at another place of employment.

Secondly, carefully document with times and dates  as well as notes as to examples of a bosses abuse of power. Documentation comes in handy and is something that can make a supervisor and his company nervous. Build a case while trying to find ways to work with this person, but without allowing yourself to be truly abused.

Third, talk to your boss or the offending person about specific issues he or she  has about you, with steps you can take to improve. In other words, don’t avoid talking to the boss.

You initiating meetings to talk and find ways to improve is a sign of you taking some control, and is also a good part of what you will document too. Avoidance gives the boss power over you or at least he or she thinks so.

At this point, if you see no change in the bosses abusive ways, you can opt to meet with his or her boss or the Human Relations Department to share concerns and ask for intervention.

Forth, once you find a better position at another company, which means that your boss has not changed his or her behavior towards you even with  all the positive steps you have taken, ask for an  exit interview  where you can tactfully express your feelings and reveal your documentation.  In this way, the boss  will have to face some consequence for his or her behavior especially if you copy Human Resources and his boss and have that exit interview become a part of your personnel file.

There are more difficult situations where an even more involved process , such as harassment charges need to be  brought  against a boss, but you need documentation and  witnesses.

Avoiding these situations and steps only empowers abusive and manipulative people.

So what happens when the abusive or controlling people are family members or friends.
Well, I see this even more often with clients. An intrusive mother who is step by step destroying a daughters marriage. An abusive parent who physically, sexually or emotionally abuses their own child, even when that child has become an adult.
A so-called  boyfriend who works to control the woman he professes to love, however, due to his own insecurities, step by step erodes her self esteem through verbal abuse in order to make sure she does not find someone else.

Abusive people come in all shapes and sizes, and yes , sadly and  quite often are siblings, parents, children and others who you give a piece of your heart to. Avoiding setting boundaries, or creating distance with these persons can be spell disaster to your self-esteem.

Confronting people such as these often leads to them trying to turn the situation back on you. They often feel no apparent shame  in playing every guilt card they have in their arsenal. So, especially if you have tried to talk to this person about how you feel, or when you know in your heart it will mean nothing to them, I would recommend you get involved with counseling, make sure you have a healthy support system  of people in your life who are affirming. Then  create consequences, letting the abusive family member know that you are no longer going to deal with him or her on their terms, on their turf, and that you are removing yourself from their grasp in whatever way you can.

It is not avoidance when there is NO  DEALING EFFECTIVELY with them. But you cannot avoid making changes in your life so you are not dependent or continue to be a victim to such control and manipulation. Trying to change these  people or do something to have them “see the light” is fodder for a great movie, but it is seldom real life.

Your Thoughts ?

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Success Over Fears !

by on Feb.05, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Success Over Phobias and OCD !

Yes, you really can overcome phobias and obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals, but it takes hard work and a focus on changing the situations that cause you to be so vulnerable to your fears.

We all have fears.  We all have avoided situations or people because of our fears. And when we avoid, somewhere in our brain there is a message being imprinted saying, “I was not in control”.

Depending on the frequency and intensity of those situations and memories, and of course, what else is going on in our lives that might stroke our self-esteem, we might be less affected. However, many many individuals allow situations where fear rules to dominate and they find there is a pattern of avoidance in their lives that  leads to a feeling of vulnerability. It is that vulnerability that I watch closely for whenever I see a  client as I know how the avoidance-vulnerability cycle can make a person more susceptible to irrational fears, phobias , panic attacks and OCD.

Frequently I have the awesome opportunity to see a client challenge those fears and WIN. Let me offer you an example in hopes it will make my point more clear. A young man, in his early twenties, came to see me more as a follow-up to reinforce what he had learned in therapy years before. I remember oh so well the pain I saw in his eyes when just a few years ago, in his late teens, he came to me totally engulfed with his obsessive and irrational fears that he was gay. Now if he was actually homosexual, then we would have worked on his self-acceptance and coping skills while dealing with society’s prejudices and fears. I have gay clients who are not in conflict over their sexuality. But in this case, he was not gay, but yet found himself constantly having intrusive thoughts and then avoiding places or situations that might bring those feelings to the surface where he might be exposed.

Besides working with Cognitive-Behavioral therapies to help him challenge his fearful thoughts, we had to get to the source of his being so vulnerable, get to the root of why his self-esteem was so fragile that he would give in to those thoughts when his conscious mind knew he was not gay.

In his case, he had never applied himself at school and his grades suffered which meant that college was not a realistic thought. He was bright, but he had an independent side that just did not do things like others. He had a strong aversion to following the crowd and doing the expected. Now, out of high school, and doing it by the skin of his teeth, he really did not know what he was going to do with his life.

Seeing his parents  struggle through life, to some degree he just felt that is how his life would be. His lack of effort, not setting or achieving goals, had led him to have  very little faith in himself. He felt very out of control, especially once he was out of the protective and structured environment of school.

He had a father who was very negative and critical since he too had not accomplished much in his life and just blamed the world for his lack of achievements. His father soothed his frustrations with alcohol as so many do. My client saw himself self-medicating in the same way.

How could my client escape the shadow of his father? How could this young man have the confidence to face his fears when his self-esteem was so beaten down ? He had never really taken control, set goals or had seen himself meet those goals, so he had little faith in himself.

Once I realized this, and was able to gradually get him to see that his life was a self-fulfilling prophecy, and that his fearful thoughts of being gay were mostly, if not entirely, a symbolic fear of being “out of control” in his life, he was able to take steps to build a plan with me that when put into action, step by step, led him to begin rebuilding his self-respect and awareness that he really could do some really meaningful things with his life.

He took on some challenges, but fell off the path a few times. He accepted that  set-backs were normal, and although they took some of the vim and vigor out of his efforts for a few days, he would throw himself back into taking steps to accomplish his new goals of doing something purposeful and meaningful with his life. Managers at his job were taking notice and giving him more responsibility, which he was able to see he could handle quite effectively. He finally was feeling some control in his life. He was finally beginning to TRUST himself.

He has miles yet to travel, but as he takes steps along this journey, he is realizing that his fearful, obsessive thoughts are happening so infrequently that he almost does not pay attention to them at all. When he does find himself attending to them, he immediately looks at what is  going on currently in his life where he might be avoiding and settling, and gives himself a swift kick, a jolt of reality, to get back on track.

Just think about the power of avoidance and the fear that is generated by that avoidance. This young man worked very hard to face what he needed to change in his life. He faced the fact that he had created a deep hole because there were things in his life that he was NOT taking control of, so his subconscious mind seized on that sense of being vulnerable and played with his mind when he was idle, or in his dreams. It was not really about being gay. Not that being gay has to be an issue, but for him, it was a significant symbol of being out of control, of somehow failing and rejecting himself.

Just food for thought !

Gene Benedetto, Clinical Psychologist
Coach

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She was only trying to protect herself !

by on Dec.11, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

“She Was Only Protecting Herself From Further Rejection and Pain “

 

I  was talking to a client who was experiencing excruciating and frequent panic attacks that were causing her to not want to leave her home.

She was a single mom with a job and a great deal of responsibility for two kids. I was initially thinking to myself that she must feel overwhelmed at times raising  kids and working and having all that on her shoulders. But she quickly said, “ I am a strong person, independent, I do not allow myself to become needy of anyone, and I work hard to stay in-control !”

I heard what she said, loud and clear, but something did not click for me as I saw a softer side below what she was “trying” to project. When I probed further, she also told me of a past where she was a people pleaser, never set boundaries which allowed people to take advantage of her. She admitted that  she sought approval and allowed herself to be abused in her first marriage.

Since I am always looking for the emotional conflicts that are the actual triggers for panic attacks, bells went off in my head. So I asked, “What happened to that nice, caring, adapting person who loved people and just wanted to enjoy life ? Do you think you buried her, eliminated her and her needs from your mind ?”

She thought for a moment and said, “ But I cannot allow myself to be vulnerable to people again. I cannot trust people to be there. !”

Therein lies the conflict ! She is still that adapting, caring, sensitive, even approval seeking person, but she has worked so hard to over-correct to protect herself, that she is in pain that she is missing what she always wanted, an intimate  relationship, a healthy, loving companion to share with. Her over-correction was in a real sense denying her most basic needs.

She needed to focus on  being who she really is, BUT, learning to do so in a healthier way. She needed to learn to make better choices, set better boundaries, and deal only with those who “proved they were trustworthy and dependable as well as shared some of the same needs.

One cannot change who they are ! It is not who she was that caused her pain, since she possesses many wonderful qualities. It was that she had to be smarter in the way she lived her life to realize she had the right to be who she was, but also that she could learn to allow in her private space only those who deserved to be her friends or companions.

Adapting personalities, like the caregivers, conformers, peacekeepers and perfectionists are more susceptible to anxiety , especially in the form of panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive behaviors because they do not set boundaries for FEAR of rejection, failure or abandonment. It is very hard to teach a person to care and to feel, to be truly intimate persons, but it is a very do-able task to teach and learn to set boundaries. Learning to say “No” when your gut tells you something is not comfortable or right, even when that habitual, approval seeking voice in your head is telling you to adjust what you think and feel in order to please the other person is a typical dilemma for adapting personalities, and it is a very treatable pattern of behavior that can be changed.

We will talk more about this issue and others in future newsletters and at our On-Line Support Groups on Sunday Nights at OneStepataTime.com

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Coach

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He Knew the Triggers for Anxiety and Panic

by on Nov.07, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

So this client comes back after almost twenty years, saying he has not had panic attacks for all that time. Previous to that, his life had become RuledByFear in that the panic attacks were frequent and intense and were  effecting all aspects of his life, both his work and personal life.

He had learned and understood the causes for his previous panic attacks and had made some significant changes in his life which reduced the conflicts and issues that were previously triggers.

Now, after all that time, he returned with another form of anxiety symptom. His blood pressure had risen dangerously high. It was not constant, but frequent enough to put the scare into him. He did the normal visits to the doctor and was told there was no physical causation they could find.

So, he came to discuss what he thought might be the triggers for this renewal of anxiety symptoms, and behold, he was right on the money. He had pretty much figured it out, which meant he had learned well in the past. But he wanted some reassurance, which is quite normal.

He realized he had been under a great deal of stress lately, even more than just stress, he was feeling CONFLICT again, and that sense of being out of control over something in his life. Sure enough, he had been trying to help a friend of his son who was in bad need of medical care but had no money, and on top of that, was visiting from another country which is known to not have adequate medical care.

He felt he knew a lot of people, and besides, this young person was in crisis and truly needed immediate attention, including surgeries. Sadly, he  had exhausted most all of his contacts and options and he heard nothing but rejection, even from doctors. He took the rejection somewhat personally as  it caused him to feel that what he believed, that we are basically good people who will come to the aide of those less fortunate, especially when their ills are not the result of anything they have done.

Yes, he did finally find a resource that would help, but by that time, his faith in his fellow man had been shaken. He truly  had his eyes opened to the reality that he had little control in this case  and it caused him great personal conflict. I cannot adequately express all that he went through in just a few words, but understand, reality can sometimes shake you down to your toes.

At least he came to realize that it was all this  conflict that was causing his anxiety symptoms, so he did save himself from  allowing those symptoms to escalate into panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

We can at times be so enveloped in a situation that is causing us great conflict that we do not see what is happening to us. Then of course, we can become so wrapped up in our symptoms and obsessing that there is something seriously amiss medically, that we lose sight that we are reacting to feeling ‘out of control’ over some real issue in our lives.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

Coach

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When Panic and Obsessive Thoughts Return

by on Oct.16, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Relapse: When the Panic or Obsessive Thoughts Return

Yes, as frustrating as I know it must be to hear this, it is true. Symptoms of panic attacks or obsessive/intrusive thoughts can return. However, this does not mean you cannot gain control and eliminate these symptoms.

What does it mean ?

Well, if you have not done  any therapy, it may mean that the sources for your panic or intrusive thoughts had temporarily passed, or that you are taking medication that helped you over-ride your symptoms for a while, or maybe that you have been so distracted by other significant issues in your life that the symptoms took a back seat in your life. But obviously, if you have not done the work to identify the true causal factors, the real sources as well as gone through a process of desensitizing to your symptoms through therapy, then the band-aid you used to deal with these symptoms has come off.

If you have done therapy, but did work to desensitize step by step to your symptoms so that you are less fearful, but have not really dealt with the sources of your symptoms, then it is just a matter of time when they will return as those sources rear their ugly heads someday.

As an example, let’s imagine a woman who was so plagued by intrusive thoughts that her husband was or would cheat on her that she was obsessed with checking his cell phone for unknown callers. The more she gave into this urge, the stronger the need became. Since she was able to feel immediate relief when she found no strange numbers on his cell, her behavior was internally rewarded. However, she also realized she was taking a serious risk in that if he found her checking on him, it would damage his perception of his wife, causing HIM to distrust HER.

She was able to show more control of her urges to check by recognizing them quickly, postponing giving in to them and then giving herself something else to focus her mind on, like calling a friend, working on a project, or going out with friends.

She made some progress, then, without warning, the urges became so strong again that the obsessions and need to check returned with a fury.

The issue ?  She also needed to understand the source of her fears and  deal with them. She came to understand that her fears of his cheating on her were really without evidence, but were there because she, in fact, was rather needy emotionally and wanted and needed a more open show of affection to feel good about herself.

Her husband loved her, but was not one to initiate affection. So her mind drifted and she had fantasies of other being with other men.. Her fantasies caused her some guilt, but also led her project her  needs on her husband. “If I have these thoughts, HE  must be having these thoughts too !”

Once she clearly understood it was HER insecurity and neediness that was the source of the problem, we set up a plan to build on his self-esteem.

She lost wait through exercise and changes in her diet.

She got involved with projects she enjoyed but had avoided.

She tried new things and initiated going more places with her husband.

All these things just made her look even better to him. She felt better about herself, and her throwing so much energy into personal growth stimulated her husband’s positive reactions and comments.

Instead of focusing on her fears, she focused on both self-improvement as well as being a loving but less needy wife.

As she became more comfortable with this game plan and saw his response, she was able to see her own fantasies change in that they were more about things to do with her husband. As the husband responded more positively and openly because of changes he was seeing in her, she was receiving the feedback she needed to refute her fearful thoughts.

Any thoughts ?

 

Gene Benedetto , Psychologist

Coach

 

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Self-Esteem and Panic Attacks

by on Oct.08, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Back to the Basics !

Let me first say that I would REALLY like to see you make some real progress in taking control of your anxiety, whether it be in the form of panic attacks, phobias, agoraphobia or obsessive/intrusive thoughts and /or compulsive behaviors.

Yes, I believe, actually, I KNOW you can gain more control over your symptoms if you are only willing to work hard to understand the true SOURCES of your anxiety, if you will take the time to develop a healthy and reasonable PLAN, and finally, are at a point where you are willing to work that plan, step by step.

You notice I did not say you could overcome your symptoms in  six easy steps, that all you have to do is buy some CD or DVD program. It does not work that way. It takes hard work and determination. But it does work because it is YOU taking steps to make it work and not just looking for a  magic pill. No Pain, No Gain !….or Know Pain, Know gain…get it?

I have no doubt that your Self-Esteem has a great deal to do with WHY you had anxiety symptoms to begin with, as is the case for most of us. There are things we need to do in our lives, people and situations we need to deal with so that we feel more in control in our lives, but we have avoided those people or situations because we want to avoid conflict, avoid disapproval or rejection.

When we avoid, our self-esteem takes a hit, a serious thrashing over time. If you just LISTEN to the way you sometimes talk to yourself in your private moments, you can probably hear your negative self-talk. :

“ I wish I would have taken the time to finish my degree !”,

“Why did I allow that person to manipulate me, why was I so weak ?”

“Why have I let myself go and gained so much weight, I can just imagine what people are thinking about me ? ”

“Here I am, another year has gone by and I have not made any of the changes I promised myself I would ! “

“Why did I yes, I did not want to go there with them ? ”

“ I am stuck in this job and it’s too late to change anything ! “

“ Why am I still in this relationship, I know I am miserable and it is not going to get better.? Maybe I am not suppose to be happy ! “

“ Nothing good ever comes my way. I must be cursed ! “

“How could I be so stupid to let him use me that way ? “

I could go on and one, but you get the idea. No one else has to put you down, you probably do enough of that to yourself. And, what I find in most cases is that this kind of avoidance and negative self-talk has been going on since you were a kid, or at least a teenager. People can be cruel and say and do hurtful things to others, mostly because they have their own self-esteem issues.

Maybe you have been bullied. Maybe you were made fun of by others. Maybe your need for approval caused you to spend more time pleasing the other people and not focusing on doing what you really wanted to do in and with your life.

Well, I have to tell you something and you need to listen ! It is not too late to make changes in your life and take steps to boost your  self -esteem while also learning to face your fears and anxieties. If you want to get on board, come join us in Support Group at www.OneStepataTime.com. We will start those groups in about two weeks on Sunday nights at 9 PM, ET.

Of course, you could avoid this too !

Gene Benedetto, Coach

Clinical Psychologist

 

 

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Children with OCD

by on Aug.16, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

I have very strong and yet mixed emotions when I see a new client suffering with obsessive-compulsive symptoms, but never more than when the client is a child.

Can you imagine what a child feels when he or she finds herself {or himself} compelled to carry out some ritual like repeated hand-washing.

Even at a young age, they fear ridicule. They often feel they are crazy, or that something is really wrong with them. Children have enough issues of acceptance or rejection to deal with, but can you imagine what this must be like for them.

And since many parents do not understand what the child is going through, they become upset and frustrated with the child, often telling the child to just stop. Feeling a parent is angry with you for something you feel no control of is especially stressful and usually exacerbates the symptoms.

If you have or know a child experiencing obsessive-compulsive symptoms, back off, talk to him, don’t show anger or frustration. Instead, LISTEN, and look for what might be creating the symptoms. Look for conflicts and overwhelming emotions that might be causing the child to feel out of control, like significant conflict with peers, or trying to fit in by mimicking behaviors that the child knows are wrong. Conflict and anger will create the atmosphere for both panic attacks and OCD.

Coach

Gene Benedetto, Clinical Psychologist

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She Speaks !!!

by on May.28, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

She Speaks !!!!!

I had mentioned in an earlier article about a young lady I was working with who had not spoken to anyone but her mother since first grade. She was referred to me as a case of “selective mutism” in that we knew there was no physiological barriers to her speech, but yet she would not utter a single word outside the protective walls of her home.

When I met her, she was thirteen, and was about to graduate from eight grade. Although accommodations had been made for her in her small private elementary school, High school would present more problems for a child who could, but would not speak.

She had been to other therapists, but she resisted their efforts. I did not ask, nor did I want to know what methods or approaches they had tried, as I did not want to be influenced in any way. I wanted to get my own feel for this child and the psychological and sociological factors that caused her to “choose” to be mute.

I found that as an only child, she had been somewhat sheltered and protected, but certainly loved. There had been a difficult kindergarten and first grade experience where this young child had possibly experienced some overwhelming pressures, but all in all, there were no serious traumas.

I focused of developing a trusting relationship with her, with the thought that as I got to know her, I would learn the conflicts and issues that were most likely sources for her unique anxiety reaction.

I made sure to let her know that even though I would suggest steps to take to face her “fear” of speaking, I would expect HER to decide which steps or how big a step to take. Feeling in control is a crucial issue for most who are experiencing panic attacks, significant anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorders. So, I let her know that I would be her “coach”, but she had to decide what steps were to be taken ……an we together developed a step by step plan that took us from gradually making nonsense sounds just to make noise, to a progression of steps where she could see that whatever she feared was not an issue as we move up the hierarchy of our joint plan.

It took a few months, but two weeks ago, as I went to bring her in from the waiting room, the smiles on the faces of both mother and child said it all. She had progressed, step by step, and was able to give a short speech to her class about her Summer plans.

I was as excited for her as if it were my first case, because I knew she so wanted to feel in control of her life, but fear was holding her back.

At the next appointment, her mom reported some interesting results. Not only had she talked more and more to her fellow classmates, but she was overheard “telling a few of the bullies in school what she thought about them”. She had not only found her voice, but years of repressing to avoid rejection, embarrassment and the cruel games that children can play, had finally found an outlet for expression.

It took patience, and the realization that she had control of the steps she could take to find her voice. Steps allowed her to move against her fears in small enough bites that she did not choke. She was able to get the internal feedback that she was OK, which tehn gave her the strength and trust in self that she could do more.

The word is out, don’t cross her or you will get a piece of her mind, in the form of words that she had stored up for years.

Coach
Gene Benedetto, Clinical Psychologist

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