When Fear Rules !

Controlling-Manipulative People

Picking Healthy Friends

by on Jul.18, 2019, under Controlling-Manipulative People, Self Esteem

Picking Healthy Friends

Recently I received an e-mailed progress report from a client of mine who is waging a battle to build her self-esteem against a very formidable enemy, herself. Yes, it should not be a surprise to anyone reading this that the one  most viral force that interferes with creating self-confidence and esteem is the grey matter between your ears. 

The way we think and feel determines what steps we consider taking to challenge our fears and to take any steps outside the comfort zone. Too many of us learn to avoid, to settle, to begin to establish early in our lives a pattern of behavior that sabotages personal growth anywhere near our full potential. 

Just ask yourself, how many things have you thought about doing, experiencing, or exploring, and how many of those items can you honestly say you have taken steps to stretch and accomplish?

What has this to do with picking healthy friends ?

Most of my readers, from or Blogs at www.RuledByFear.com are suffering from one degree or another of anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia, obsessive worry or compulsive behaviors, and it turns out are MUCH TOO DEPENDENT on what they “PERCEIVE” that other people think and feel about them to feel good about themselves. As a group we are very caring, adapting, sensitive personalities who need approval …which too often means that our personal growth, and therefore our self-esteem is dependent on the feedback we perceive from family and friends, bosses and co-workers, peers and even strangers.

Just to stimulate your thinking regarding this issue, make a list of all your friends and family members. Rank that list from LEAST to MOST important in your life. 

Now, take one step towards stretching or reaching towards a goal that you would like to accomplish. Now, this step should be reasonable, one that you can feel yourself resisting, but not totally overwhelmed by. After taking that step, make contact with as many of the individuals on your list that you can. This will be a challenge in itself as it will be easy to avoid. But, in hopes that you will carry out this assignment, I want you to share with each person you contact that you have stretched to accomplish something you have been avoiding, and that you wanted to share with them because they are a friend. Then, make notes on the response you receive ! 

Does the person you contact appear to enjoy the discussion and reinforce and applaud your efforts ?

Does the person seem to be too busy or uncomfortable and appears to dismiss the issue, or detour to another issue ?

Or does the person quickly turn the discussion around to be about THEM ?

In other words, I want you to evaluate the nature of your friendships. In order to make changes in your life, especially when it means challenging your fears and stretching out side the comfort zone you, like most of us has created, you NEED SUPPORT. 

We are not talking about needing their approval for every step you make, but surrounding yourself with people who are of like minds who can offer appropriate support. 

Some of our so-called friends are just too uncomfortable to discuss emotional laden issues. Some are too selfish to expend energy on anyone other than themselves. Then there are those who are threatened by the efforts to grow on the part of another as it brings up the uncomfortable feelings of what they should be changing in their lives.

Time to explore the health of your support system, and determine in whom you wish to invest your emotional energy. You want your personal growth to be about sharing your growth and supporting the growth of your friends. The more you can LIVE the changes you wish to make, by interacting with others and supporting each others growth, the more successful you will be.

Coach

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/Retired

RuledbyFear.com

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Pathetically Apathetic

by on Nov.06, 2018, under Controlling-Manipulative People, Self Esteem

” Science may have found a cure for many evils; but it has not found the remedy for the worst of them all, the apathy of human beings. ”
Helen Keller

It saddens me to see how apathetic we have become as a nation. In many cases we have lost our will to speak our minds, let alone think for ourselves.

We avoid dealing with issues or intervening when our consciences tell us something is wrong. We are increasingly afraid to express opinions that might be divergent from what is “politically correct”, and we fear rejection, embarrassment, possible ridicule. What has happened to us ?

_________________________________________________________________________

apathy – definition of apathy by the Free Online Dictionary …
www.thefreedictionary.com/apathy
Lack of interest or concern, especially regarding matters of general importance or appeal; indifference. 2. Lack of emotion or feeling; impassiveness.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Crises, like wars or natural disasters tend to galvanize a people as a common threat is felt and we experience a need to join forces. Look at the recent tornados in Oklahoma and how quickly many from neighboring states came to help their fellow citizens in need.

However, when the crisis is more subtle, not in your face, we have the ability to rationalize and justify it away, to procrastinate and ignore until it is too late.

A person might not want to see an evolving crisis in a marriage, avoiding talking about problems that he or she knows exists, allowing the relationship to wither and die.

An individual may feel trapped in a job that is unfullfilling, even though there are options to make changes, retrain or retool, because he lacks faith and trust in himself to do any better. Apathy takes hold as the person allows his or her fears to rule their life.

And now as we enter an era of big government, dependency is being rewarded, replacing the want to challenge ourselves to greater levels of achievement. The people being sucked into this mental abyss will one day realize that they have given up their freedom and motivation to excel , their desire to see and be all they can be.

Instead, they will be dependent, becoming weaker, with minimal self-pride for being on the dole. Oh, they will eventually see the light, but only when they realize that the Great Ones who promised them whatever they wanted did so only to gain more power and control for themselves. That awareness will be certainly painful, and they will be angry for being duped, but angrier with themselves for allowing it to happen. Power does corrupt, it is just a matter of time.

Such is the cycle of civilizations.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/ Retired
Blog : www.RuledByFear.com
http://www.facebook.com/groups/ruledbyfear

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They walk among us, the Sociopaths.

by on Dec.29, 2017, under Controlling-Manipulative People, Stopping Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then there are the Sociopaths who are selfish, lack empathy, are controlling and manipulative, and lack much of a conscience. These manipulative, often very successful, even charming personalities have the natural characteristic to look for other’s weaknesses and use them for their own advanatage.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “ I do not know any sociopaths ! ”

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

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

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
The Benhaven Group

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Bullying…All I did was try to protect my daughter !

by on Dec.14, 2017, under Controlling-Manipulative People

I am currently seeing a client, and adult male, whose daughter was being bullied over a period of three months, at the private school she was attending. The father, let’s call him Bob, was terribly upset that this was going on as he was paying out the nose for his daughter to attend this well known school, and expected that she would not be subject to bullying there. Financially, this was a burden for him, but he has two daughters that he hoped to protect from such issues.

Recently, the bullying reached a more intense and therefore tragic level when his daughter was being hazed at an assembly at school and in the hallways. They were calling her names and saying terribly embarrassing things to her , and she was visibly shaken and shared with her parents that this was happening, and that she was experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts. Bob, no stranger to anxiety and depression, and loving his daughters more than himself, was beside himself.

Although most adolescents going through this do not share with their parents, and often become victims to suicide, this is a very loving and close family, so they knew there was something going on, and she knew that her parents would not blame her for doing something to bring this on.
The parents immediately set up therapy for the daughter, and Bob went to the school and talked to the Assistant Principal who said he would take care of it. He did not deal with it, for whatever reason. Whether
the administrator was insensitive to to issue of bullying, or maybe was anxious about talking to the parents of these students, some of whom were highly influential in the community, or possibly major contributors to the school, I don’t know yet.

The next day or two, nothing was done, but the Assistant Principal approached Bob’s daughter in the hallway at school in front of other students, asking whether she had anything to do with vandalizing one of the bullying student’s car. It was proven that it was not her, but she was further embarrassed by being accused in a very public place, instead of privately in the administrator’s office. What is wrong with this picture ????

Not getting the help he was expecting from the administration, he went back after work one day to see if he could catch up with the administrator and reinforce how serious this was for his daughter. He did not find him around, but in walking by the gym, he saw the group of upper class students that had bullied his daughter.

He was upset that they had potentially put his daughter’s life at risk with their bullying, and so he could not pass up the opportunity to go up to this group and “warn” them to leave his daughter alone. Admittedly, he used some very colorful language to make his point, but when he was done, one of the students, a male, came up to Bob and admitted he was part of the group that bullied his daughter, apologized and reached out to shake Bob’s hand. Bob accepted, and in that moment, that is all Bob wanted is for the students to know that words hurt, and he just wanted it to stop.
Even Bob admitted that the bullying stopped according to his daughter after he made his points with the students.

Now Bob is preparing for court since the parents of these bullies pressed ‘menacing’ charges against Bob.They are calling him a bully, when their sons and daughters were bullying his daughter. He is sick about it and was having panic attacks. “All I did was try to protect my daughter when the authorities failed us.”

What do you think about this ???

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
The Benhaven Group

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Were You Manipulated by Somone Lately ?

by on Mar.17, 2014, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks & Agoraphobia, Controlling-Manipulative People, Self Esteem

Were You Manipulated by Someone Lately ?

Let me ask the question a little differently. Did you ” allow ” yourself to be manipulated or controlled by another person today, or this past week  ?

Over just the last month I have heard some all too frequent and painful words pass by the lips of some half-dozen new clients who were experiencing Panic Attacks or Obsessive-Compulsive symptoms.

These anxiety symptoms can easily be over-whelming, and not surprisingly, had caused each person in their own way to avoid doing things in their lives that many would take for granted, like driving on the freeway, going into a large-box store, 
enjoying a social life, making changes in their careers or just leaving their homes… for fear of having an anxiety attack..

Here is just a sampling of what I have heard :

     ” I just feel numb emotionally, I just don’t feel joy anymore. When did I stop thinking, feeling and doing for myself. I am certainly not selfish, but I have really gone so far the other way on my life because I have been so dependent on approval from others. I hate this feeling !”
     
     ” I feel overwhelmed, and it is paralyzing as if I cannot move forward. And I am now realizing it is because I have conformed and run my life based of what I felt other people expected of me or needed from me. How pathetic is that ? ”

     ” I am so angry, actually more angry with myself for allowing other people to control my life and not doing anything about it .”

     ” I feel this sense of depersonalization, like a loss of awareness as to who I am and what I really think or feel because I have spent my life seeking approval from others. What am I, chopped liver ? ”

     ” I am “adapted out” …I am like a chameleon, conforming to the needs of others, putting my energy into them and with very little coming back to me.”

     ” I don’t trust myself because I have made bad decisions in my life, and each time I feel like moving forward in any area of my life, my anxiety symptoms get worse. ”

There are many  people out there who are selfish, self-centered and lack empathy for others. They are often those personality types who just like control, and possibly without realizing it, do not listen to you or consider your thoughts and feelings. They may take you for granted, may feel entitled or in other ways show disrespect. While I might argue that some of these very individuals have deeply buried insecurities themselves, these are personality types that often take advantage of, and consciously or unconsciously would manipulate and control you for their own agendas.

As you might have gleaned from the above comments, most of the people I deal with as a therapist are experiencing significant anxiety, mostly in the form of Panic Attacks or Obsessive-Compulsive thoughts and behaviors. In my opinion, at the heart of why many are experiencing  these mind and body numbing symptoms, is conflict. They are, no doubt, feeling overwhelmed by their symptoms, but at the source, more often than not, there are ongoing personal / emotional conflicts that are more fundamentally overwhelming, but being ignored or avoided. As they navigate through the sometimes choppy waters of life, attempting to not just survive, but find a meaning and purpose, they must make fundamental choices. In the case of the majority of my clients, they are more typically adapting personality types, Caregivers, Conformers, Perfectionists and Peacekeepers.

These adapting types seek approval, a sense of belonging and a feeling of acceptance and appreciation on one hand while at the same time trying to realize and care for their own needs to feel worth and value, a purpose and meaning for who they are and what they do with their lives. Often, they come to realize that their  dependency on approval has blinded them, causing them to ignore what they really think, feel and want to accomplish. The result is that they are not feeling emotionally  in-control of their lives.

Now, as suggested before, most do not realize this at first as they are coming to me initially focused on finding an immediate way to eradicate their symptoms, and I certainly understand why that is their priority ! However, once I am able to open the door for them to see that there is, most often,  a reason for all these ugly and dark symptoms, reality comes rushing back and stares them in the face which is why I hear the comments above.

So, stop and think: 

How many times were you controlled or manipulated today ?

How many times did you think something but said nothing for fear of rejection or embarrassment ?

How many times did you go along with someone you disagreed with only because you wanted to avoid a conflict or keep the peace?

How often did you find yourself going over-board to do for others, but did not express your needs?

How many people are there in your life that you really do not like but you still go out of your way to do for them because you want them to like you ?

How much have you given up of your self esteem and confidence because you have allowed yourself to become dependent on others for that approval or acceptance?

How many times did you join in on gossip even if you knew it was hurtful to someone else,  but found yourself sucked-in just to fit in and be accepted ?

How many times did people around you seem to dismiss your opinions, and just turned the discussion around to what they thought and felt ?

How many of your apparent friends tend to find fault or otherwise blame, shame  and guilt others, including you, when someone doesn’t agree with their position ?

How often have you allowed the  ” just be happy with what you have ” comments by others, even family, to interfere or totally derail some personal or career option that you dared to have a thought to explore ?

Why not take a personal inventory of your friends, family and others that you interact with in your life. How one-sided are some of these relationships ? How much emotional conflict is there in your life that you are just over-looking ?

Could you be allowing people to manipulate or control you ? 

If you dare to explore taking greater control of your life, I invite you to join us in our free on-line Support Group Sunday evenings at 9 PM, ET at www.OneStepataTime.com

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist / Coach

CEO: The Benhaven Group, LLC

Blog: www.RuledByFear.com

Newsletter and On-Line Support Groups: www.OneStepataTime.com ,
www.PanicAttacks.com , www.Self-Esteem.com

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