This was a set of questions I received from a client after one of our first sessions. I trust this interview style article will provide you with value and insight.
Client: How did you reach the mindset of having a virtual death, and how that looked and felt during the Dare, maybe how you worked up to this point?
Me: Reaching a state of mind where you have ‘mentally commit suicide’ is achieved when you adopt the attitude of completely giving in to the panic. Allowing it to kill you because you’ve had enough with fighting against it. In other words, you give up complete conscious control because anything you try to consciously keep a grip on things only serves to keep you entangled in the mess.
I remember reaching a point when I was completely left with no other choice. I was just so sick and tired of waking up reacting in the same way to the anxiety and panic. It was time to mentally resign myself to how I was feeling. “I’m done with this.There’s nothing more I can do. I’ve tried everything and it hasn’t been working, so I’m just going to give into the anxiety and panic. Kill me if that is what it takes.”
Getting into this attitude of no longer caring is very powerful as it has a paradoxical effect. When you stop trying to fix yourself. When you stop trying to make the panic attack go away and just embrace all of it, then the panic starts to lose it’s grip on you.
Another really important step in ending panic attacks and conquering our fear of them is understanding that panic attacks cannot harm us. This is huge because if I still believed panic attacks were dangerous then I would have never gotten over my fear of them and I would still be experiencing them to this day. Apprehension, being afraid of the panic attacks, is the main culprit.
Because of understanding this and really trusting it, I had nothing to lose.
Client: How did you realize you finally sat a full panic attack out, and saw the illusion for what it is, what did you feel, saw, or thought. Basically where the end is, if there is any?
Me: What terrified me was the unknown. I was scared that something was going to happen. But nothing ever did. This is the trick that a panic attack plays on us. It is one big bluff. It replenishes itself through our fear of what might happen as a result of experiencing a panic attack. Without this fear, the panic attack would start to die.
Fear of fear acts like anxiety’s charger. It gives it so much more power. In order for me to overcome my fear of panic attacks, I had to face them head on. This meant that I would no longer run from them. To no longer push them away and talk myself out of them. All these behaviours/responses just showed my brain that I was very fearful of the panic attack and so more panic would be created as a protection mechanism.
So, by asking for more of the panic, by internally facing every thought and sensation that arose, I saw the panic attack for what it was – an illusion. I broke through the “other side” if you will.
The other side of what though? There is no other side. If there were to be anything, then it’s just a moment of realisation where you realise that there is nothing more to these panic attacks. They are an alarm system ringing in our bodies to keep us on high alert. Yes, they produce some awfully uncomfortable sensations and some scary thoughts but nothing ever comes from having these.
It’s just ourselves fearing the protection mechanism, nothing more than that.
I understood that fearing the panic attack is what keeps it going. I trusted what I read from people who had ended their panic attacks and so I went all in with this approach until I mastered it.
At this point, I was getting a little angry. I was deliberately trying to make the panic attack worse. But with this new approach, I had a new energy behind me. It wasn’t one of fear and apprehension. I didn’t feel all dense and tensed up.
I felt lighter. I felt excited because I was challenging the panic attack. I was unravelling the illusion.
Like I mentioned earlier, fear of the unknown seems to be very common in people who suffer from panic attacks. The main fear we have during a panic attack comes from being scared of how bad it could potentially get. The truth, however, is that panic attacks have a limit. When we are having a panic attack, we are already experiencing the worst that can happen. It is as bad as it’s going to get. There is no heart attack or a slip into unconsciousness waiting on the other side for us.
Now, of course, this isn’t to say that the sensations cannot get anymore intense because they can. However, it is just more of the same. The reason why the intensity of the sensations increases is because we are basically adding another layer of panic to the initial layer. This can be solved by adopting a fearless attitude.
“It SEEMS horrible and terrifying but it isn’t at all. What happens next surprises you! The whole panic house of cards collapses because you completely went to your fears without a doubt.” – Jeffrey Hammes, The Panic Switch
You can’t really have doubts though because this is another way in which we keep the fear energized. If you let the panic attack run it’s course without having doubts, then you will end your fear of fear and it will switch off.
Client: How did you stop listening to the irrational things when we are in full panic, the mechanism seems too powerful for myself when i experience strong Panic. Like my rational mind seems shut off in high panic, how can i have guidance in such moments when i’m totally freaked out?
Me: When you are in the midst of a full blown panic attack, you have to understand that your conscious, logical part of the brain has been hijacked by the emotional brain (Limbic system). Although this feels scary, it is just a sign that the protection mechanism is doing it’s job. It’s all about instinct. Acting and reacting quick in the face of danger so we have more chance of surviving. If we had to think about the situation and what we were going to do, then we might not have enough time to deal with the threat. This is why we feel so out of control during a panic attack.
Understand that you are supposed to feel completely out of control. The truth is, we have no conscious control over a panic attack. This is why trying to stop it is useless. Once it’s happened, it’s happened. There is no going back. However, this doesn’t mean we cannot influence the panic attack because we can. The only way out is through.
So, my guidance to you in these situations where you’re totally freaked out by the panic is to reassure yourself that you are not going to come to any harm. That you’ve experienced so many in the past and survived. Remind yourself also that you cannot control the panic attack, so you’ll just ride the wave and let it do it’s thing until it exhausts itself out.
“In order for you to take that step – the step of willingly wanting to have MORE panic and experience all of it at it’s worst – you have to finally trust that the fear is false and be sick and tired of these same attacks and the same feelings you recognize all too often. You might be afraid at this moment but you will be determined to follow your fear to the panic “source” and everything bad that you are afraid of and never come back! I could describe in detail what you probably imagine that to be. Like me, you will have made it 100 times worse than it really is.” Jeffrey Hammes, The Panic Switch.
Until next time