Benjamin is a successful bussinesman & Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has successfully helped thousands of people free themselves of being STUCK in their lives. He helps people become unstuck and achieve the life they desire & deserve. Ben is the developer of the Staying on Track...One Step at a Time TM Program & is the current President of the F.A.S.T Center for Professional Development. He is the author Of the book "Supercharge Your Emotions To Win" 7 Keys to Achieve the Life You Desire & Deserve. His website is www.BenjaminHalpern.com. .
- My book "Supercharge Your Emotions to Win" 7 Keys to achieve the life you desire & deserve.
- BINA MAGAZINE Is there something you avoid because it makes you feel uncomfortable or fearful? Do others get frustrated with you when you can’t get yourself to do something you know is safe in your mind, but your body is petrified? Have you ever been frustrated by your inability to get your mind to listen to you when you give it instructions? Between our ears we have a “supercomputer” with unlimited potential. Your brain has a set of rules that enable it to operate efficiently. When not used as per its instructions, it won’t produce the desired results. A computer can have a hardware problem, a software problem, or it can be used incorrectly, like trying to move the cursor with the keyboard or trying to type with the mouse. Similarly, the brain can present with a hardware problem, which generally requires medication to manage, a software problem, where all you need to do is remove the bad thought pattern and replace it with good thought patterns, or we can simply be using it the wrong way and once that is corrected, the problem is resolved. Here are some statistics: 100% of people will experience anxiety, but only 18% will develop anxiety disorders. 100% of people experience despair, sadness, and loss, but only 9.5% will suffer depression. 60-80% will experience significant trauma, but only 6-8% will develop PTSD. 12-35% of people will experience panic attacks, but only 2.7% will develop panic disorders. 100% of people experience fear, but only 6-8% develop phobias. Why? The answer to this question holds the key to emotional freedom: An emotion evolves to a disorder when we change a behavior to accommodate it. Allow me to clarify. All emotions that we experience in our lives are like descending escalators; their intensity diminishes consistently. Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert conducted an amazing study about happiness, and found that an individual who has become paraplegic and someone who won a large lottery jackpot are equally happy one year after their experience. This is the same reason why a new car, job, or house becomes less exciting with time. The same is true for negative emotions related to experiences such as losing a loved one, a painful diagnosis, or illness. Fear, panic, anxiety, trauma, or sadness will diminish naturally, much like the discomfort of a mosquito bite. Initially, your brain sends the message “it itches!” When you respond to that message by scratching, your behavior reinforces the signals being sent by your brain. However, if you ignore the urge to scratch, you become desensitized to the stimulus and your brain stops sending the message to scratch. When you choose to ignore your brain’s nagging, it stops complaining. If you listen to the brain’s complaints and consequently avoid an uncomfortable situation, it will continue to send messages about the discomfort and the negative emotion will increase instead of naturally decreasing. So, if you ever got used to an article of clothing that was initially uncomfortable, or went to school after the initial first-day jitters, you have the skill of allowing your discomfort to naturally fade away. This can be applied to any emotion you choose to diminish in your life. All you need to do is resist the urge to use avoidance and/or safety behaviors, and rather take a leap of faith and allow the emotion to naturally de-escalate. Once you already have ingrained patterns of avoiding the fear or discomfort, accomplishing this task requires more effort, but it can be done. You brain is operating perfectly normally; you are just sending the wrong instructions and asking it to keep the negative emotion alive with your accommodating behavior(s). All that is required is to replace the “program” running in your brain (the negative thought pattern) with the program that will allow the “default setting” to run (allowing the negative emotion to diminish naturally). The only thing we have any power to control or affect is the present moment. Negative emotions such as fear cause us to live in the future; feelings such as guilt have us living in the past. Living in the past or the future prevents us from experiencing simchah and menuchas hanefesh in our lives. To avoid this pitfall we must learn how to stay in the present moment - even if the experience is uncomfortable. The moment will pass, as will the intensity of the emotion. Living in the moment, without trying to avoid or protect ourselves from the present, allows us to control our focus, stay on track, and keep moving in the direction we want to move in. The next step is determining where we want to go. Imagine getting into a taxi and when the driver asks “Where are you headed?” you answer, “Not here!” You will find yourself driving for hours without arriving at your destination, simply because you never gave the driver an address. Ask yourself, if I got up tomorrow morning and my anxiety was gone, how would my life look? Clarify for yourself what it is that you want. Come up with ten ways your life would be better if your anxiety disappeared. The more specific your imagery is, the more effective this technique will be. For example, if you would like to be able to enjoy the process of getting ready for the day, you need to see in your mind’s eye a clear image of getting up tomorrow morning and feeling great. How does it feel? How does your face look? How are others responding? The more detailed your mental imagery is and the more senses you can incorporate, the quicker you will see the results and relief you are looking for. Do this exercise daily; spend about one minute on each image. In just ten minutes a day, you will be giving your brain a clear message of where you want to go and the rest of your daily thoughts will follow. Fortunately, the prognosis for anxiety, fear, panic, phobias, and stress is great. You can transform limitation to liberation very quickly and broaden your possibilities and opportunities. The brain can adapt to change very quickly. A person can develop a trauma in seconds, so why not use the same power to create positive change quickly as well? There are two important pointers that will help you succeed in this endeavor. The first point is that just like all life-enhancing behaviors such as exercise, vitamins, and dietary changes require regularity to derive benefit, so too, new positive skills need to be practiced regularly. Secondly, these techniques work - if properly applied - so if you are not achieving substantial improvements in three months, do yourself a favor and see a mental health professional. Get help at applying these skills, rather than just allowing yourself to get frustrated and settle for a limited experience of the life you deserve.
- THE JEWISH PRESS Attaining Menucha and Simcha In Zmiros Friday night we say that Menucha V’simcha Ohr Layhudim, calm and happiness are a light for the Jew. How appropriate this is in our times, how much we long for Menucha from our anxieties and Vsimcha from our depressions. True that we are in a world that moves faster and the responsibilities and pressures are more than ever before. The flip side is that Hashem always creates the solution before he sends the problem. The solutions are amongst the enormous knowledge available and the amount of people we can learn from in today’s times virtually all over the world thanks to so many technological advances. We just need to make use of the solutions available to us. We have a responsibility to utilize the help available to us. A Gadol is quoted as saying that the most flawed concept we are thought in school is that we can overcome any obstacle hashem sends us on our own, Hashem gives us the ability to deal with it in advance. If one was to talk to those involved with serious tragedies they would tell you that this proves to be inaccurate every day of the week. People are dealt with nisyonos that they cannot ever handle on their own. What chazal intended is that Hashem makes the solution available before the problem, but not necessarily can you do it on your own. After all you need others to make your clothing, food, electric and so on. The solution is out there for you to attain. Your Menucha and simcha were created before your problem was. How come I don’t have it? Why can’t I help myself? The answer is that it is available to you, but you need to find it. How can I go about finding the solution to my problem with anxiety and depression? The answer is very simple in my opinion and that is by modeling. Einstein once said “Insanity: is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” modeling is exactly the opposite extreme; the concept is to find somebody who had already attained what you want to accomplish and model them. There is somebody out there who has had the same challenge you are experiencing who learned through the school of hard knocks and can teach you how to deal with or overcome your challenge. Based on the idea, that the brain is a neutral piece of equipment and everyone’s brain operates in with similar rules. The difference is the programs (thought patterns) that run in them, and not the actual hardware (physical/biological brain). Furthermore if you were to interview 10,000 anxiety sufferers you would find that they all think in similar patterns. And if you interviewed 10,000 non-anxiety sufferers you would find that they too have common patterns. The reason why you think the way you do is not nearly as important to getting help as the way you need to think in the future to become a calmer and happier person. We have access in today’s day and age to so many individuals who have the knowledge that we so desperately need to attain menucha and simcha in our lives. The gemarah in Brochos DAF 7 teaches us this concept of modeling. It says ‘Gedolah Shimusha Yoiser Milinudah”, it is greater to serve a talmud chacham then learning torah on your own. The gemarah teaches us that by learning and modeling others we can get further than doing it by on our own. What would be the first step to successfully modeling someone who has achieved success in an area that I would like to succeed in? It probably would be the same that you would do if you were going anywhere you wish to go to. You would realize where you are now initially, and then where you would like to go to. With those pertinent pieces of information you can go anywhere you wish. All you need is to ask someone who knows or use a map. Let me elaborate with following analogy. If a woman was to call me hysterically and say that she is somewhere and she is very upset that she is not at her daughter's chuppah that is going on right now. The first question to ask would be where are you now? What if she says that she refuses to open her eyes because she doesn’t want to accept her reality, because she belongs and deserves to be by the chuppah. Is there any way that I can help her get to where she wants to go? Will she ever be able to get to where she wants to go to? Absolutely not! Until she open her eyes and realizes where she is now, she can’t get the help she needs. The second part is like with anywhere else you would want to go to is to know to where you want to go. Do you know where you want to go to? Do you know what menucha and simcha look like for you? What life would be like with it? How it feels, so you know how to recognize it when you get there? Most people who suffer emotionally just complain that they are not happy with their current situation. I compare this to getting into a taxi and when the driver turns on the meter and asks where are you headed? You answer, not here! You will then find yourself driving for hours while the meter is rolling and you will still not arrive at your desired destination, simply because you never gave the driver an address. However if you have an address the driver can drive you there rather quickly. This is a major reason why people are no where they want to be. Why not ask yourself, if I got up tomorrow morning and my anxiety and/or depression is gone, how would life be better (clarify what you do want)? You need to be able to create clear images as to where you want to go (how you would like to feel) in order to go there. Go ahead and take out a pen and paper and write ten ways life would feel better if your anxiety/depression disappeared. If you are specific and clear in you imagery, and fully associate with it daily, you will find yourself moving towards them. You will also be driven to find role models who can help get there. Jews blessed with a mesorah that is carried forth by many gedolim and special individuals in our generation, coupled with the fact that we are the nation of the book, you will find the information we need to accomplish our goal of menucha and simcha and merit that Menucha Vesimcha
- MIND, BODY & SOUL, MAGAZINE We all hear the buzzword anxiety; we hear statistics like one out of three people will battle with it throughout their lifetime. What is anxiety, its causes, a Torah prospective, and how to go about overcoming it. Almost every normal person will experience anxiety and/or its related conditions during their lifetime to some degree. Usually in anticipation of a big transition, like the birth of a child, loss of a job, before a medical procedure, walking down a dark alley or public speaking. A third of the population will experience it to a degree that it affects daily living and the productivity of their life. It ranks as the number one diagnosis in emergency rooms across the USA. And the primary medication used to treat anxiety is the most prescribed medication in America. Anxiety has a few faces, many complain of a feeling of agitation that sufferers describe as a black cloud over their heads at all times. Others experience a feeling if impending doom. Some common symptoms that accompany anxiety in general are, intense inner nervousness and fear, tightness of throat and shortness of breath, dry mouth, heart palpitations, uncontrollable obsessive scary thoughts, sleep problems, nausea, chest discomfort, dizziness, feeling of unreality, numbness or tingling in the extremities, hot flashes and chills, shortness of breath, and muscle tension. Very commonly the sufferer will avoid public places or certain situations that may invoke the feeling of anxiety, thereby making their living world smaller and smaller. Another common form is when one experiences intrusive, persistent, irrational, thoughts or impulses. In an effort to minimize or cope with these nagging thoughts the sufferer engages in repetitive behaviors and rituals to control their anxiety. Anxiety is one of the most painful conditions that one can experience, but fortunately also the most curable. The most effective way to treat anxiety today is CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) it is the science of making changes to your thinking patterns and behaviors in a systematic way to more positive ones, that don’t provoke anxiety. CBT has an 85-99% success rate based on different studies done for different forms of anxiety. In other words you can look forward to at the least an 85% reduction in your suffering if not better in many cases. The torah says in the third parsha of shema “velo susuru achrei levavchem vechrei eineichem asher atem zonim achrayhem” this posuk describes the Yeter Horah’s tactics to keep from doing our Tafkid in this world. He distracts us from the only thing we have any power to control or affect, and that’s our precious present moment. One tactic is “Ochrei Levevchem” he creates emotions of fear that we feel in our heart, he then has us living in the future. Or feelings of guilt that has us living in the past. Either way we are living in fantasy, because we can only control the precious present moment, and we are not living in it, when the Yetzer Horah has us living in the past or future it robs us from experiencing Simcha and Menuchas Hanafesh in our lives. To avoid this pitfall we need to learn how to stay in precious present moment and how to control our focus to stay on track and keep moving in the direction you want to move in. The skills to accomplish this can be learned rather quickly and in most cases within weeks. ‘ There are very solution based therapies available for anxiety and phobias, however they are very costly since the treatment time is very short. Take one of my teachers, he has worked with US Presidents, and many athletes to restore their self confidence and move them past paralyzing fear. The fact is that he charges 1-4 million dollars per client on average. Another great organization I had the merit of working for is the Midwest Center for Stress and Anxiety, they have great results however it requires a $2500 commitment to go through their coaching program. I feel that we need to get the skills to our community at a price they are already comfortable paying. This is what led me to create the Staying On Track… One Step at Time TM Program to get results to people in a quick and reasonable way. It is based on the concept of modeling, since the brain is neutral piece of equipment and be used in many ways from a rasha extreme to lahavdil a gadol hador, if you were to examine a rasha and a tzadiks brains in an x-ray you would find them to look the same. The difference is the program that run in them, and not the actual hardware. Furthermore if you were to interview 10,000 anxiety sufferers you would find that they all think in the same patterns. And then if you interviewed 10,000 non-anxiety sufferers you would find that they too have common patterns. So the reason why you use the thinking patterns you do is not nearly as important to getting help as the way you need to think in the future to become a non anxiety sufferer. I would like to share some skills you can put to work right away and see improvement. Most people just complain that they are not happy with their current situation. I compare this to getting into a taxi and when the driver turns on the meter and asks where are you headed? You answer, not here! You will then find yourself driving for hours while the meter is rolling and you will still not be anywhere because you never gave him an address. However if you have an address the driver can drive you there rather quickly. Ask yourself, if I got up tomorrow morning and my anxiety was gone, how would it be better? You need to create clear images as to where you want to go. Come up with ten ways life would be better; each one should be a clear picture of how you want life to be, For example, if one of your reasons is that you will be able to get up and enjoy the process of getting ready for the day, you need see in your minds eye a clear image of getting up tomorrow morning and feeling great, how does it feel? How do like it? How does your face look? How are others responding? The more real you see it and the more of your five senses you can incorporate in your mental imagery, the quicker you will see the results and relief you are looking for. You will find that you will start moving towards the ten mental images you’ve created. Do this exercise daily, spend about one minute on each image. In just ten minutes a day, you will be giving your brain a clear message of where you want to go. Chazal say that we gravitate after our mind, so here you are affecting the direction you mind will be headed thereby also leading the direction the rest of your daily thoughts will follow. Now that you have embarked on your journey to overcome your anxiety may the hashem help that you merit a complete speedy recovery, with the coming of Moshiach.