At that moment, when panic attacks, you have a number of choices.
Choice #1: Fuel the fear and run
Drop everything. Throw the shopping basket on the floor, and run for your life. Keep moving forward - run, walk, jog – do anything, as long as people can’t see the sweat on your forehead and the panic on your face as you have a panic attack. That would cause you great embarrassment, and what people think matters. React to the panic with more panic. Stoke the fire with fuel (the fuel being fear). Like a steam train, watch as your panic keeps chugging away and continues to get worse as you continue to stoke the fire.
Choice #2: Question your sanity
Are these symptoms real? Are they life-threatening? Is it just indigestion? Is it a migraine? Should I call for an ambulance? I might look stupid. Allow all the ‘what if. . .?’ thoughts to continue to fuel the panic, and produce more thoughts about things that will never happen.
Choice #3: Search Dr Google
Get our your phone or laptop and begin typing in your symptoms on Google. Fuel the panic further as you read through the life-threatening results, believing every word of them. Spend the rest of your life in and out of doctor’s surgeries, getting more frustrated and disillusioned with every visit. Make lots of trips to the hospital, seeing specialists and having tests, looking for a diagnosis that deep down you know is anxiety.
Choice #4: Fight the panic
Fight the symptoms. Have a battle with something you can never win – something that is implanted in you to keep you safe. Fight with everything you have and use up all your energy – vital energy needed to overcome the panic. Continue to beat yourself and become more and more disillusioned as you convince yourself your life will never change.
Choice #5: Accept the symptoms, stand firm, and don’t stoke the fire
Accept the symptoms. Say to yourself: ‘I recognise that I’m having a panic attack, but I also accept that these symptoms won’t last. They never have. And they’ve never done me any harm.’ Don’t worry about what other people are doing or thinking – that is not your worry or concern. Stand firm, and recognise that, like a bully, panic feeds off fear. Internally shout: ‘DO YOUR WORST!’, and feel the symptoms subside. Know that all the ‘what if. . .?’ thoughts serve you no purpose other than to cause you more panic. Be confident to know that when you don’t stoke the fire, panic has nothing to feed off. Smile, and thank anxiety for keeping you safe. Reassure it, and tell it, on this occasion it wasn’t needed. It was simply a false alarm. Keep doing the things and visiting the places that cause you to panic, and keep telling your brain that these things and places are OK. Watch as your anxiety and panic trigger eases each time you do it.
Which choice will you make? I like #5.
ABOUT CARL VERNON
Carl Vernon is a best-selling author & speaker, talking and writing about all things anxiety, stress & well-being.