Just Ran out of Candy

By Greg Baer M.D.

December 12, 2012

The other day I spoke with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. He told me that recently he'd begun having—at nearly age 60—his first panic attacks. At times he simply could not function at work, and he didn't know what to do. He'd been to a psychologist, but the visits weren't making any difference. Medications weren't helping either.

I asked him a few questions about his childhood, and it became quickly obvious that he'd never been loved unconditionally. No surprise there, but then, on his own, he said that he felt like he'd always had to prove his worth.

Bingo. As a young man he proved his worth in school with good grades. Then he learned to prove his worth on the job. Raising several children helped him feel worthwhile, as did his involvement in church and civic activities.

But now his children had all left home, his perceived value at work was decreasing as he was approaching retirement, and at church he was slowly being pushed aside for younger men who were taking his former positions of leadership. He was losing all his previous means of proving his worth—of earning Imitation Love—and it was terrifying him. Imitation Love feels great, like eating candy, but when the effects wear off, as they always do, we realize—or at least feel—that we have nothing.

My friend was running out of candy, the only source of nutrition he'd ever known. Hence the panic attacks. Once he understood the cause of his fear, and as we spent more time together, his panic began to decrease. The remainder of the story has yet to be written, but it's a good beginning.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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