“Confidence is what we get when we take fear, face it and replace it”
Is there anything more frightening and scary than a panic attack?
Even the thought of having a panic attack is often enough to set many panic sufferers off.
The thing is, that is exactly the point, your fear is of the fear of the fear.
Let me explain that a little better, and to do that we need to answer the following question.
What is a panic attack?
Now I’m not talking about the human physiology involved and what happens in your brain and body during a panic attack.
But, what really is a panic attack?
A panic attack is a lie.
It’s deceit, deception and down right dishonesty all rolled into one.
It’s a false fabrication of fiction, and it’s all done inside your mind.
Anxiety and panic attacks are the biggest lie ever sold.
What makes it worse is that it’s a lie you’ve created and yet one you believe.
You believe it so whole heartedly that you’re willing to change who you are and what you do because of it.
Because you’ll do anything to never feel that way again.
The problem here, is that by doing this, all you’re doing is giving it the power it needs to exist.
It cannot exist if you are not afraid of it, if you show it for what it really is.
Don’t fight it, just understand your thoughts are not the truth. Then get on with what you have to do despite the way you feel.
Show your mind it’s not going to change who you are and it WILL learn to dispel those thoughts very quickly and even stop them happening in the first place.
How to stop having panic attacks
There are just two panic attack scenarios.
Either you know you’re about to do something which is likely to trigger a panic attack and therefore you have one.
It happens subconsciously and is triggered without you even knowing it is going to happen.
In each scenario the way to deal with a panic attack and stop it happening again in the future is pretty much the same.
The only difference being that, when you know you will be putting yourself in a situation where it is likely to occur, you can do a couple of extra things to be ready for it.
First let’s review what you need to do in any panic attack situation, and then look at the extra things you can do if you know in advance you are likely to have a panic attack.
What to do when the feelings of panic arise
1) Do not try and stop it, do not try and fight it and do not try and distract yourself. Instead stop what you are doing, just observe it and allow it to run its course.
If possible sit down and just relax your entire body, understand that the thoughts, feelings and sensation you are experiencing will pass.
Because if you try and fight it, it wins. It wins because you are showing it respect it does not deserve. By trying to fight it and not panic, you only end up panicking more when you feel the panic is there.
If you don’t care if you panic or not, you remove the fear of panic you have.
2) Tell yourself you know that all you are experiencing is a ‘flight or fight’ response, your adrenaline is making you want to act when there is no reason to.
Tell yourself you know it cannot hurt you, it is just thoughts and feelings leading to a physiological response in your body. You are not going to die and very soon it will be over.
Because you must believe 100% that this is a natural process which cannot harm you (even if you shouldn’t be experiencing it at that moment), the human body is not going to have an inbuilt panic response which can kill you.
In times of real threat it is actually helping you to do the opposite, to give you the ability to fight or take flight so that you can survive.
3) Tell it to do its worst, tell it you know that it is a lie and a bluff. Welcome it and tell it you want more, that you take up its challenge because you know you’re no longer going to believe its lies.
Because if you want the panic to happen, and you accept it will and are ok with that, it loses all power. You’re not panicking because of the situation, you are panicking because you fear the panic.
By telling it to ‘bring it on’ you will completely disarm it, it cannot exist if you want it to exist, because you are no longer scared of it.
4) Remember to breathe gently and as you would when you are calm and relaxed. At the same time, do not focus on it too much, you are not going to just stop breathing.
Because when you hyperventilate you are actually taking in too much oxygen and expelling too much CO2. This drop in carbon dioxide means you cannot use the oxygen you are breathing in and you feel short of breathe.
5) Remain in the moment or situation until you feel completely calm and relaxed again. Do not leave, seek help from others or try and distract yourself.
Because this will show you that once you have passed through the panic you can be calm and relaxed in that situation. You do not need anyone else to help you, you can do it on your own.
The more you do it the easier it becomes and the less panic you will feel.
Eventually you’ll have passed through the panic enough times to see you can be calm in that situation, eventually the situation will not even make you feel panicky in the first place.
Is there no other way to stop panic attacks?
Not that I know of, and I’ve tried a hell of a lot of things.
The only other real option is to curl up in a ball in your bed and stay there for the rest of your life, and even that may not work completely.
To stop panic you must face it and you must reveal its truth, and the truth is, that it’s a lie.
It is probably not the answer you wanted, but it’s the one which works.
Drugs may numb you, therapists may help relax you, but when it comes down to you and the panic, you have to face it alone.
Once you’ve come out the other side you will see it was not as bad as you imagined. You’re still alive, you coped with it and you can do it again.
How to prepare for a panic situation
If you know you are going to be entering into a situation where you are likely to panic then there are certain techniques you can do to be prepared for it and to help you face it.
1) Write down the worst that can happen in the situation you feel you will panic in. It may be along the lines of ‘I’ll end up a gibbering wreck, curled up in a sweaty shaking ball while every one points and laughs at me for being such a freak’.
Next, accept completely that this is going to happen, in fact, you even want it to happen.
You want it to happen because you know that:
You do not care, it does not matter because you know it cannot hurt you.
It will soon be over and you will still be here, but now you’re one step closer to not having another panic attack.
2) Take pen and paper along with you and when you are in the situation write down the following over and over again:
This may feel horrible but it CANNOT kill me. These feelings are just lies and they CANNOT hurt me. All I need to be free of them is to show myself the truth, I have nothing to fear, I am completely safe.
This does not need to be written word for word, you may even want to create your own version specific to you. The point is it helps you believe what you are doing is right, this helps give you the strength you need to stay in the moment until the panic has passed.
3) Have a bottle of water with you. You are likely to get a dry mouth and lose fluids as you perspire. Keep the water at hand and just sip it slowly.
4) Go in to the situation wanting to panic, tell yourself you will panic and you do not care if you do. That you need to panic to show it you don’t care because you are going to be ok.
When you want to panic it makes it very hard to panic, when you try and fight it you end up panicking more. Even if you still panic, just accept it and follow the 5 points above.
Now you need to do this over and over until you stop fearing a panic attack.
It won’t take long and soon you will challenge it to ‘do its worst’ the moment you start to feel it.
This is what I now do, often with a big grin because I know it’s a bluff and I’m going to call it out every time.
If you have severe panic and it often hits you without knowing then these are the attacks you need to face first.
If panic is triggered only by certain situations then you must confront these one at a time. Start with those which have a smaller scale of panic feelings and work your way up.
You’ll often find that once you’ve faced the smaller ones the bigger ones become much easier.
Do it over and over, as frequently as possible and it won’t be long until you can enter any situation without even thinking about panicking.
I used to panic in a huge number of situations. Now pretty much all of them have completely gone, it doesn’t even cross my mind when I’m about to do them.
I still have a few to face, but I know that I will. I’m going to make myself panic as hard as possible and show myself what a load of complete and utter bullshit a panic attack is.
A few things to remember
The feelings of anxiety and panic will always be there in your life. Every single person has them.
It is impossible to completely remove them and never have that anxious moment or twang of panic again.
If you did you would no longer be human, and that is not what we want at all.
The aim is to be able to get on with your life and not allow it to be ruled by the fear of a panic attack.
When you do get those thoughts, instead of suddenly feeling fear and dread, you now feel the thrill and excitement of challenging it and winning, of exposing those lies because you know it cannot harm you.
It requires a real commitment and willpower to do it, but it is possible for everyone to do.
When you do it feels incredible, that feeling of taking it on and winning is immense.
You’ll even end up laughing at it, and that is exactly what it deserves, to be laughed at like the joke it is.
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