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How to Survive a Panic Attack

A rip current is a powerful current of water that flows away from shore. An unsuspecting swimmer basking in the luxuriating surf one moment may be unexpectedly drawn out to sea the next. In the ocean, rip currents can be killers, accounting for over 80% of rescues performed by lifeguards. It helps to think of panic as a rip current, pulling you away from your shoreline of stability and security. And just like a rip current, your life can go from calm to chaos in an instant. If you suffer from panic attacks, Self-Coaching can become a life preserver.

If you’re an unsuspecting swimmer caught in a rip current, the absolute worst thing you can do is fight it. The force of the current will defy all attempts leaving you exhausted and fatigued. In order to survive a rip current, a swimmer needs to relax and conserve energy by floating along with the current until he or she is finally released. If a current of panic overtakes you, the worst thing you can do is to allow your thoughts to flail about, exhausting you while inadvertently feeding the panic. Instead, try to recognize that when you’re panicking, this isn’t the time to figure out what’s going on or even to fight back. It’s just a time to float along until the rip current of anxiety lets you go. Just as any rip current will eventually exhaust itself and release a swimmer, panic, especially if it’s not fed by Reflexive Thinking, will dissipate, eventually letting you go. The more you fight it and contribute to your agitation and insecurity, the more you become victimized.

Self-Coaching can eventually build your capacity to eliminate the triggers that produce panic, but until that happens, keep in mind the simple wisdom that less is more. Most people, while in a panic will think, Oh my God, what’s happening to me! This is terrible! This is bad! I can’t handle this, I need help. When you give in to these thoughts, you’re no different than the panicked, thrashing swimmer caught in a rip current. Don’t be seduced by panicky feelings trying to convince you that you have to do something in order to survive (control) the situation. Next time you get swept up by a panic attack, try to picture a calm and knowledgeable swimmer, one who knows that floating rather than fighting makes more sense. Self-Coaching will help you build trust and eliminate panic from your life, but until this happens, be willing to ride out any rip current of panic you encounter.

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