The following article I’ve written is inspired by a Chris O’Shorter aka, WonderBro video called “The False Alarm Of Panic – How To Stop A Panic Attack.
I’ve always found WonderBro awesome at describing things in a simple way for most of us to understand. Even though I have had many years of suffering from this debilitating condition myself and have learnt what it takes to recover, I am still learning new things everyday and WonderBro happens to be a fantastic learning resource for myself and many others.
Now and then, whenever I’m feeling at a loss with what to write about, I will browse the articles or videos from other people in my field and today, I went onto WonderBro’s channel for education and inspiration. He has always got something awesome to talk about.
I trust he doesn’t see this as a form of copyright but rather an educator (himself) passing on his wisdom to inspire sufferers, and ex-sufferers like myself who have a desire to educate and help others as well.
Anyway, back to the article…
The important first step
Remind yourself right there and then during a panic attack that you are not going to react in fear because there isn’t anything to be fearful of. The alarm bells of panic are ringing for no reason – it’s a false alarm.
Another reason why you don’t need to be fearful of the panic attack is because it cannot cause you any harm. All the things you fear happening won’t happen. This is really important to understand.
What keeps us in the panic disorder cycle is the fear of something bad happening as a result of experiencing a panic attack, but nothing bad happening never comes into fruition.
The brain is keeping a close eye on our reactions during a panic attack. Well, it’s keeping an eye on our reactions most of the time.
But, in this instance, it’s watching to see how we respond to the protection mechanism. (Remember, I don’t like calling it a panic attack because it gives off the impression that it’s attacking us when in reality, it’s trying to keep us safe from dangerous encounters like being attacked.)
This is why fear breeds more fear. If we don’t add second fear, as Claire Weekes calls it, then the brain sees this response and determines that we are not afraid. So, as a result of seeing that we are not afraid, it pulls the ‘relaxation response’ lever which counteracts the panic.
“Don’t react. The brain is watching. It’s sounded the false alarm and now it wants to know if there’s really a tiger and if it’s done it’s job correctly of activating the alarm bells. 99.9% of the time there’s no real danger.” – Chris O’Shorter (WonderBro)
The only way we can prove once and for all that the tiger in the room is just a paper tiger is to completely allow the panic attack to wash over us without adding more fuel to the fire and this fuel is of course, second fear.
Let me paint you a picture in your imagination right now for the sake of using a metaphor
Imagine you are on a beach. Imagine there’s a big wave coming towards you on the shoreline. This big wave is a panic attack which is about to creep up on you.
Now, instead of running away from this big wave, you are going to allow this wave (panic surge) to wash over you without putting up a fight (a fight wouldn’t help in this situation as it makes no difference) and without running away.
This metaphor shows us how to react to a protection mechanism episode. (panic attack). It’s literally like letting the wave wash over you without adding that second fear. Second fear is the panic attacks life-blood. It needs more fear to replenish itself.
So, practice not reacting in fear to the panic attack. Ride the wave so to speak. This might take a lot of practice but it’s so worth mastering because you will be able to conquer panic attacks and dissolve their power when they are happening.
I trust this post can benefit you. If you have any questions or feedback then please let me know. Thank you.
Until next time 🙂