Ok, so your heart is racing - maybe you’re feeling a bit faint or dizzy - perhaps have difficulty breathing or chest pains . . tingling . . feeling like you’re out of control and in terror. . . a panic attack feels horrible!
The good news is that you can absolutely take back your command of yourself again and indeed, eradicate them completely!
First let’s understand what’s going on in your mind:
Your brain is the most complex thing in the known universe! It has billions of nerve cells which each connect to thousands of others, constantly sending all the messages round our bodies that allow us to think, move, live and breathe.
From our perspective, we can see it in a whole lot simpler way and understand exactly why you have to got to where you are, feeling the way you do.
In our brain we have a conscious part, the bit that’s who we know as ourselves - our awareness, interactions, perceptions and actions etc - but this makes up only 10% of our mind. 90% of our mind is sub-conscious! Part of our sub-conscious mind is our phenomenal ‘evolved’ mind and part is our original primitive caveman mind.
When we are functioning from our ‘evolved’ mind we are very positive and can be rational and make a sensible assessment of things. This part is an intellect and can think for itself and has a vast resource of all our answers and solutions, so even in the hardest times we can find ways forward or positive ways to cope. We naturally perform well and achieve and also produce feel good chemicals to feel brave and happy souls. It feels like living in a splendid Palace, feeling good about our selves and our world, even if sometimes our world isn’t quite how we’d choose. We can never have a panic attack if we live from this part of our brain.
However, when we are functioning from our original caveman brain, called our primitive mind, it’s a very different story. This part is all about our survival, so is always on the alert for threat or danger. Consequently it is very negative, always coming up with the worst case scenarios. And then, lest we forget what it perceives as the threat - which right now, for you, will be what’s most bothering you and causing your reaction - your primitive mind keeps reminding you of that problem over and over; which is why it’s really hard to stop an unwanted pattern because your brain is wired up to remind you! And even worse, this part is not an intellect and can’t think for itself, so just stores data about survival and encourages you to repeat it, even if in fact it is detrimental to you. It can feel like living in a Big Dark Den full of Rats and Spiders with no way out.
We have an incredible 60 - 90,000 thoughts every day - and if the majority are positive you’ll be in your Palace Mind and feeling all the benefits of that but if the majority are negative you’ll be living in your Rats’ Den mind and feeling fearful, anxious and depressed. We tend to have lots of the same thoughts day after day, so if they’re negative we get deeper and deeper into our Rats’ Den.
In the quest for survival the Amygdala in our primitive Rats’ Den mind triggers a rush of adrenalin to enable us to react quickly in the event of threat. This is useful if we’re in a burning building or in some other potentially life threatening situation to make good our speedy escape. Then our anxiety level would subside again once the danger had passed.
However, when we’re living in our Rats’ Den mind that’s constantly on the alert for the danger and assumes the worst possible scenarios, our anxiety levels rise more and more, and more things
seem a threat. The Amygdala consequently responds to this risen level of threat and triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response, as it’s known, in less and less serious situations.
Effectively, instead of the ‘threat alarm’ being triggered by a real fire, it gets triggered because we’ve burnt the toast! It’s not a pleasant way to live. If our anxiety level rises enough the overwhelm of that causes us to experience a panic attack - or Irritable Bowel Syndrome or various other unpleasant experiences.
So given that panic attacks are the result of too many negative thoughts building up our anxiety, you may well imagine that positive thinking would be the answer, right? Unfortunately it’s not that easy.
The reason we are driven to that negativity in the first place comes from much deeper things that have gone into our subconscious - things we learnt from when we were very little that aren’t actually true, but we’ve taken them on board as true. Things like ‘we’re not good enough’ or that ‘we have to please other people in order to be likeable’ or that we ‘have to have fancy things to make us popular’. Yet, even though these things aren’t true, we live by them!
And we look for approval from others and we strive to get understood or noticed or accepted - and we feel the hit and the disappointment when it doesn’t happen - and end up deeper and deeper in our Rats’ Den mind, with more anxiety.
Here’s what to do in the grip of a panic attack: (You can be guided through this on my audio if you click here).
Do your best to focus on one small specific item - maybe a button or particular point in a picture, or shape on the decor and really stare at it. Start counting backwards from 300 - 299 . .298 . . 297 . . let your counting get a bit slower . . . 296, 295, 294 . . . keep staring at the item .. . 293, 292 . . .
keep going . . 291 . . . if you feel your eyes want to close that’s fine, you can keep the image of the item in your mind even with closed eyes . . . just keep focused on it, gently counting backwards . . .
Whilst still focusing on the image and counting backwards, become very aware of the little muscles on the top of your head . . you might find they’re very tight, it’s amazing how much tension we hold there without realising - and just let them go, let go of those scalp muscles and let them relax - (keep focused on the small item you’re staring at - keep counting backwards) - if you want to sit more comfortably or lie down that’s fine - now let go of your forehead and let that soften - and relax your eyes - feel how nice it is to be able to let them be closed - (keep your awareness of the small item - keep counting backwards) - let go of your cheeks and your jaw - and all over the back of your head - and just feel a wave of calm and tranquility coming into the top of your head and gently washing down over your scalp and down your face and the back of your head, relaxing those muscles even more . . . let go of your neck and feel that wave washing down into your shoulders, relaxing them - soothing them, taking away all that panic and tension . . . all down your arms as you let them go . . . (keep counting backwards - keep focused on the awareness of that small item)
. . . letting go even more - and feeling that wave of peace and tranquility flowing all down your back - all across your shoulder blades - soothing, calming - down your spine, out across your middle and lower back relaxing each and every muscle, every piece of skin . . soothing, calming . . .now feeling it all around your chest and lungs and heart, feeling so cool and healing .. . let your breathing become slower and deeper . . (keep counting backwards) and let go of your chest and solar plexus . . . .feeling that wave of calmness washing through . . . now letting go of your pelvis and buttocks and your whole torso - even more . . . breath in calm and breathe out all that anxiety and tension that was just harming you . . . let it go . . . now let go of your legs and feel that wave of calm flowing down, down, soothing, calming, relaxing . . . (still counting backwards, still with that awareness of the small item) all the way down though each lower leg into your feet . . filling your whole foot up with this wonderful wave of peace and calm . . . every bone, every muscle, every tissue, every piece of skin . . . and let it feel good to be there feeling this relaxed right now . . . no-one wants anything from you - nothing is expected from you other than to just let go, relax and allow each breath to become slower and deeper . . .. slower and deeper . . . deeper and slower . . .
Now imagine you are in front of a lovely house in it’s own grounds - perhaps a mansion house - with some stone steps leading down to a beautiful garden. Just a short flight of 5 stone steps which you begin to descend now . . . from the top 5, taking a step down, 4, noticing how peaceful it is here - another step down, 3, your breathing becoming even slower, even deeper - down again, 2, the fresh sweet air the perfect temperature for you, 1 and zero - you’re at the bottom of the steps standing in the garden.
You notice the beautiful flowers - all the vibrant colours - perhaps even able to smell the various fragrances . . . hearing the birds tweeting as they flit from tree to tree. It’s all very peaceful and safe here and you can be here for as long as you want because a long time here is only a few moments in your real time . . . so you really can relax and enjoy this garden and why not? Just walk along a little way and settle down on a bench along the path - which is surprisingly comfortable! It’s as though each curve was made to fit your body perfectly and as you lean back you almost sink into it as you would a soft pillow. You look up to the sky and the few fluffy clouds passing by, feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin and feeling so much more relaxed than you can remember being for ages . . . it’s a nice feeling isn’t it . . . and you can know now that you can come here anytime you wish to rest and relax and re-energise in safety and calm. And you can feel more able to go back into the fray feeling refreshed and re-energised - with calm and clarity to see your problems in a new light.
Because after all, you do have the ability and the capability to handle all that you need to, even that which you are afraid of, because you do have all the resources you need or can chose to reach out for help or support. That is the wise and strong thing to do because after all, giving way to tension and overwhelm is the weak thing. You do have all the strength that you need and - just as the tiny roots of the flowers around you now can manage to push through the hard clods of earth - or those tiny birds fly thousands of miles for the winter months to the sun - or the grey clouds pass into blue skies, things can change for you too.
You can choose to give your power of your mind to solutions and finding new ways to handle challenges or create new positive things, you can choose to give attention to what does serve you rather than doubts and fears that keep you stuck. You can choose to come to this garden whenever things get a bit tough - even just for a few moments - to remind yourself of this feeling of calm and empowerment.
And as you let these thoughts wander through your mind - you might like to sink even deeper into that oh-so comfortable bench and let go completely, filling your self completely with this lovely sense of peace and calm, feeling lightness in your body and in your mind.
And just when it feels right - let these feelings settle deep inside, bring them up through your body into the forefront of your mind - to keep hold of this calm space - and just gently come back to the room and time you are in, open your eyes, and take a deep, relaxed breath . . .
Ahhhh - does that feel better now? Keep hold of these garden images and feelings, take a deep breath and go back to your day feeling calm and able.
How you can stop panic attacks for good:
The solution is to take back command of your Rats and move next door in your own head to your Palace Mind - and then - most of important of all - learn to really value yourself and like yourself so you can stay in your Palace mind where anxiety and panic attacks can’t exist.
The biggest gift you can give to yourself is to cultivate your self-worth. The truth is you were born a perfect little baby, instantly worthy and deserving, loving and lovable and perfectly good enough. You just learnt different along the way, so you need to unlearn it and get back to that truth!
When you can feel good about yourself, comfortable in your own skin, full of self worth, self esteem and confidence, not only are you in your Palace mind so won’t have panic attacks, you are able to handle life-challenges so much more easily, actually find that you no longer seem to even have many of your issues and you can enjoy life much more!
All of this - how to handle your Rats, take back command, live in your Palace Mind and feel good about you - (and never have a panic attack) is all in my book “The No 1 Guide For Teenagers to Feel happy and Enjoy Life” which will be available very soon! Keep visiting this website to get your copy as soon as it’s launched.