When Fear Rules !

Tag: trapped

Holding on to Fear !

by on May.22, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Holding on to Fear !

One typical behavior I see among most of my clients who experience panic attacks, or intrusive/obsessive thoughts is that they hold on to their fears.

I am not saying that they are fully conscious of what they are doing or why, but nonetheless, this can be at the heart of why they experienced panic or OCD to begin with.

Many times I have expressed that when a person experiences conflicts in his or her life, especially when there is a habit to avoiding or ignoring the conflicts, that an inner sense of weakness develops. We have all made some bad decisions in life, and most of us have had experiences where we feel we did not handle a situation well. Many of us have felt we have been bullied or found ourselves controlled or manipulated by another person. If we never take steps to deal with the people or situations, if we allow ourselves to repeatedly avoid conflict, what is the result ?

Avoiding conflicts leads to an erosion of self esteem for sure. When faced with conflicts, we feel fear. We often feel anger towards the person or situation that presents us with conflict, but we are often angry with ourselves for allowing the situations to persist. With the erosion or self-esteem comes the equally painful erosion of trust in ourselves. This begins a never ending and blinding cycle of avoidance…deflating of self-esteem…anger with self….lack of trust in self….and then more avoidance.

Sometimes the reality of this cycle existing in our lives is just more than we want to admit to, except in our most private thoughts. As a result of this emotional cycle, many will experience the symptoms of panic , intrusive thoughts or the menacing pattern of compulsive or ritualistic behaviors that seem to run our lives. What happens then is that the symptoms become the focus of all our attention. The symptoms, the result of our fears, allow us to further avoid recognizing or dealing with the source of our pain…..avoidance.

It is never easy facing our fears. However, when lack of self-trust and a fragile self-esteem take root, holding on to our fears allows us to further avoid.

Yes…there is an answer…a solution. No quick fix, but a step by step approach to realizing and facing your fears in real life. You will most likely need a very close friend, an ally or a coach to help you through this process, because you have allowed yourself to be Ruled By Fear.
But, it can be done.

Coach
Gene Benedetto,
Clinical Psychologist

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Why My OCD has Flared Up Again ?

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

Why My OCD has Flared Up Again ?

Drew had been gradually taking more and more control of his obsessive-compulsive symptoms. He was actually quite surprised that he had such control after years of being troubled by intrusive thoughts and fears and the need to “check” , to go back on anything he did to make sure it was right. He would, in the past, take hours out of his day to go back and do his work over again for fear he forgot something and check any reports over and over to make sure there were no errors. His checking was so out of control that it was effecting his ability to do his job.

However, Drew had learned in therapy that there was a reason for him falling into his obsessive –compulsive behaviors, and that the intrusive thoughts that he had to check for fear of somehow failing or being out of control was all part of his need to feel in control of his life. He learned that ANGER was his issue !

He was brought up in an atmosphere where he learned to never express how he felt, to suppress his emotions in order to prevent arguments, possible rejection and conflicts.
So, once he learned there was a reason, he made a very big effort to recognize his anger and deal with those feelings more effectively. As a result, his intrusive thoughts were minimal, and his urges to check were decreased to the point of being rare.

So when Drew came for a follow-up appointment a few months later expressing that his compulsive need to check things was showing up again, it was not hard to discover why.

Drew had slipped back into his old habitual patterns of avoiding conflict. Yes, even with all the progress he had made, with all his insight and successes, it was all to easy to fall back into the “avoidant” mode he had so often practiced most of his life.

As soon as he had felt better, he lapsed back into avoidance and did not realize the slide. As soon as I mentioned “avoidance” he responded, “ How could I not see this. I just got back from a family trip to see my parents and siblings, and while there I found myself getting angry as my sister and sister in law both kept yelling at my kids, saying things to them that I felt were hurtful. I would take my kids out to play when it happened, but I never said a word to the offending parties. How could I not see I was avoiding ? I told myself that I was doing good by protecting my kids in that I removed them from the situation, but I never expressed my frustration, I never said a word. Just talking about it now makes me so angry. I am angry with them, but I am so very angry with MYSELF for being weak, for not taking control.”

This is how our mind works. It does not make us bad people, but avoiding makes us think and feel thoughts that are very uncomfortable. Those thoughts of being angry with ourselves lead to inner conflicts that spawn a sense of being out of control. Hence, we find ourselves doubting ourselves, second-guessing, checking.

Drew took this all in, and began to redevelop a plan to discuss his feelings with the offending parties and his family, to take control. He had to feel more assertive, that he was not going to accept the feelings that came over him when he avoided. Those feelings would instead be what would stimulate him to take appropriate ACTION rather than AVOID.

Coach

Gene Benedetto, Clinical Psychologist

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Fear of Change

by on May.01, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

It is so very easy to settle for less when you yearn for more. Deciding what needs to be changed is a challenge in itself, but once realized, we are most likely to overwhelm ourselves at the prospect of what needs to change.

I have seen first hand, and repeatedly, that if I have the opportunity to guide my clients not only to the source of their anxieties, but also have to chance to help them set up a game plan for change, a step by step approach, there success is much greater. Left on their own, most people allow their need for approval and fear of failure, rejection and embarrassment to cause them to try to make change with bigger bites then they can swallow, which ensures the frustration and often, failure that they fear.

Most often, we have developed certain habits of avoidance that cause us to put off anything uncomfortable, so we spend many of our productive years comfortably-uncomfortable, trapped as our life is Ruled By Fear.

Breaking free of our self-imposed entrapment requires that the degree of fear related to potential change is felt to be outweighed by the emotional pain, and symptoms we experience as a result of our avoidance of the needed change.

Creating a reasonable plan to approach needed changes in reasonable bites, step by step, requires patience for sure, but allows you to create some emotional momentum to help you take the next step.

The needed changes most often have to do with learning to more effectively realize and then communicate your needs, learn to deal with difficult people who often realize your need for approval and take full advantage of your need to please, but mostly to see yourself doing things with your life that enhance your perceptions of yourself, your self-esteem.

Those personalities who are less wanting or needing of approval are able to rely of what they DO in order to foster their self-esteem rather than being as dependent of the nods and smiles and encouraging words of others. Now, those of us who do value approval from others may at times be at a disadvantage, but isn’t it better to have that emotional and intimate side of one’s personality, but realize the need to focus on our gifts and talents and seriously make an effort to realize the value of what we do ?

Coach
Gene Benedetto
Psychologist

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What Do Bullies Fear ?

by on Apr.12, 2011, under STOPPING ABUSE

What Do Bullies Fear ?

In one word, EXPOSURE !

There is no perfect human being. We all have faults and have made mistakes. Don’t tell me that you have not had one of those moments where you were daydreaming and said to yourself, “I can’t believe I did that, what WAS I thinking !” Part of our own personal development means we have to face our less proud moments and learn from them.

However, most of us, especially those who are approval seeking and adapting personalities who work hard to please, have a conscience and feel a responsibility to others around us, are especially targets for bullies. The bullies of the world have their own insecurities, usually rather deep and pervasive, which is why they tend to pick on others they feel they can dominate and control. In essence, they are protecting their own weaknesses from being exposed.

Something I have seen repeatedly when dealing with my clients who have or are being bullied, is that the bully almost always threatens his or her victim with more threats of harm or abuse. The bully or abuser has to make sure their victim is told that no one will believe her [or him] , and will use any knowledge they have of their victims past to shame her and render her fearful of exposure.

I have seen bullies and abusers do this even with a child victim. I have seen this repeatedly with male and female bullies and abusers of all ages. What the bully is telling you is that exposure is the enemy, it is what THEY fear and they are using it to frighten their victim so she will never expose him [or her].

If the bully actually realizes that he or she will be exposed, that the victim or potential victim can accept the mistakes or screw ups in their own life and those errors or past faults will not keep her from exposing the bully, all things change.

Ah yes, we must pick our battles carefully, and I would recommend talking to a therapist, minister or attorney to help document your experiences with a bully, but then realize that we have all made mistakes in our lives and that only makes us stronger. Unless of course, you have avoided dealing with issues and needed changes in your life. Then, because of the avoidance, your self-esteem is weakened and you are haunted by the past instead of feeling good that you have recognized and dealt with any chinks on the armor. Not dealing with issues and conflicts in the past makes you more vulnerable to bullies and abusive people.

We have all heard that some of the most successful individuals in our world have faced failures and turned them into opportunities. These people see life as experiences to work through, learn from, and then they move on to use what they have learned to do more worthwhile, meaningful and productive things. IF you do not want to be so VULNERABLE to bully types, DEAL with issues, people and situations you have avoided, learn from them, and grow stronger. Then the bullies have less of an opportunity to target you. But even if they do, the threat of exposure works both ways.

Coach

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

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Trapped by Fear

by on Apr.09, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

I remember a situation where a young lady that I had worked with in the past had contacted me again because she was experiencing a set-back where her panic attacks were returning with a vengeance, worse than ever. At first, she was just so overwhelmed and disappointed by her symptoms that I knew she could not even hear what I was saying. But, I allowed her to vent as i knew she needed to, then I began asking some probing questions.

As I listened, I recalled that she had become, for the most part, agoraphobic, very infrequently leaving her apartment. I recalled that she was living near her parents, and due to her anxiety, was somewhat dependent on them financially. She was in conflict with them as they would foster her dependency on them and yet embarrass her with comments that she should be out there on her own. I could see many co-dependency issues at the time where the mother, being unhappy in her marriage, wanted to keep her daughter close.

I thought about past sessions where she would be in such conflict over a boyfriend who was actually very psychologically controlling and was manipulating in order to have her dependent on him sexually.

When I had last talked with her, she had been taking on-line schooling and had an online job, Great steps toward gaining some financial security, but at the same time, making it terribly convenient for her to not have to leave her apartment, her comfort zone.

She dared to dream of being independent. She even cut off communications with the intrusive boyfriend, a huge step after all he did to create dependency of her on him.

Her panic attacks subsided.She was at least feeling some direction and hope.

I could see, as i listened to her, that as expected, her isolating herself had left her vulnerable still to her anxieties. She had become comfortably uncomfortable with her situation, but realized she was still trapped. The job did not pay enough for her to be on her own, the parents were still creating conflict with their mixed messages, and the ex-boyfriend, if one would call him a friend at all, was calling and texting her. In response to the latter, she was not answering his calls or responding to his texts, but she did hear and read his comments. Feeling very lonely, she imagined somehow it might be different this time with him, but then reality would hit and she would remember the pain he caused so often, and how he used her.

However, in her mind, this did not have anything to do with her panic. She was not in that relationship anymore, and her parents were just who they were and would never change.

And then she said that she cannot do anything about any of these issues because of the anxiety and panic. And my response was, you cannot stop the panic until you trust yourself to do something about those issues and conflicts.
The reality was that the panic attacks began again AFTER she started getting calls and e-mails from him. Besides the need to take steps to become less dependent on her parents and her need to have a plan for her life, she needed to trust herself that she would not be vulnerable to this man again. In truth, the one thing that kept her from letting him back in was her PAIN. I asked her one simple question. “If you were free of your panic attacks and any significant anxiety, would you be tempted to go back to him?” She responded, yes !

So, in truth, she was subconsciously creating the panic to prevent herself from forgetting the pain that he created and that she had been so vulnerable to. This is an example of a hidden agenda, a cause for anxiety and panic, where we do not trust ourselves to do what we need to do to protect ourselves, so we use our symptoms, our pain, to create a detour.

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