Here is a first-aid kit for dealing with panics, fears and phobias.
Fear thoughts pop into your mind automatically and you can’t just choose not to have them so that. But you always have at least some choice about whether you focus your attention on them or not.
The more you exercise this choice, the more power to choose your thinking you develop, until you have so much power to choose the calm and the positive that the negative thoughts vanish. The earlier in a panic episode you choose to focus on useful things, the easier it is. It may take several minutes (5 – 10) for doing the things below to take effect, so don’t expect instantaneous change. Persist.
- Don’t be afraid of feeling panicky. Panic may be unpleasant, but it won’t kill you, won’t make you ill, won’t last forever, doesn’t mean you are dying, doesn’t mean you are crazy. It’s just a feeling. Remember the ancient Eastern wisdom: “This too will pass.” The more you let yourself feel it, the quicker it will pass.
If you get into an internal fight: “I MUST NOT PANIC” for any reason at all, you will make things only worse.
- Breathe slowly and deeply, making sure the out-breath is longer than the in-breath. Count to four as you breathe in, and six or seven as you breathe out. It is your own breathing and there is no need to let your breathing run away with you – you can choose to breathe slowly.
- Recognise that thoughts and images of things going wrong (the plane crashing, falling from a cliff, a spider crawling over you) are not right now, or not right here. Decisively change your focus to things which are physically right here, right now. See (4).
- Focus on things which are physically present right here, right now: sounds you can hear, colours you can see. You need to focus to do this and it may take you into a pleasant mildly trance-like state. Make the effort to pull your attention away from the suction of the negative onto simple, obvious, real, physical things.
- Don’t say things to yourself like “I mustn’t panic,” “This is terrible,” “I can’t cope” etc. Ask yourself what is useful to say, and say that. For example: “Right now, I am safe,” “I can cope,” “This won’t kill me,” “This may be unpleasant for a short while, but it will pass.”
- Pretend that everything is OK. Instead of saying to yourself “Ohmygod! It’s the first flash of panic and it will get worse and worse,” instead say: “Ah, I’m having a twinge of panic. I wonder what will be the first tiny sign that even so, everything is going to be OK?” And look for that sign and focus your attention on it. It may well be the same as (7), or different.
- If you focus on the panicky feelings, you set up a feedback loop and make them worse. Instead, feel the place in your body which is already calm and peaceful. There is always such a place. Resolutely choose to place your attention there. (You can do this while you do the 4-6 breathing.) This is just like (4), except that you are focussing on the safe place inside your body right here, right now rather than on everyday sights and sounds which are outside your body right here, right now.
- If you know it, EFT is good though not necessary.