Panic - what is it?
My story - About us
First thing first
Coping self statement
10 principles to cope with fear
Understanding your thoughts
Panic Prone Personalities
Stories from the Jericho Road
HOW AND WHY IT WORKS
It was the same way during my recovery from panic disorder. Most days I did not want to practice my therapy techniques. Most day I did not want to do my breathing exercises or practice muscle relaxation. I did not want to examine my thoughts and write them down in my journal. I did not want to revisit my fears on my Misbelief-Truth worksheet. There was a million things I would have rather have been doing. But my emotional pain was great. Looking back I think that the pain I was in was my great motivator. “I’ll do anything,” I’d say, “ even practice every day, if it will make me feel better.”
Well, I did practice, every day, and little by little, I did get better and better. And you will too. Here’s why...
Nobel Prize winner Ivan Pavlov once did an experiment with his dog. (Please forgive me as I explain this - I am not a scientist so my vernacular is very “plain”) Every day before he fed his dog, he would ring a bell. Day after day he would ring the bell so his dog could hear it. Immediately after ringing the bell Pavlov would feed his dog. After some time Pavlov discovered that all he had to do was ring the bell and his dog would begin to salivate. This was because the dog had learned or had become “conditioned” to respond in that particular way. The dog knew that he was about to get some food every time he would hear the bell and would respond by salivating. Or, by repeated exposure to a stimuli (ringing bell and dog food) Pavlov’s dog came to react in a particular way - to salivate at the sound of a ringing bell.
THE GOOD NEWS - BAD NEWS
The bad news is that most of us who experience panic or high levels of anxiety have been “conditioned” to respond in our panicky way. Somewhere in our past we experienced an event or a series of events (our exposure to stimuli) and our response was to become quite anxious. We may not even be aware of what those events were but over the years we have become conditioned to respond in an anxious way each time a similar stimuli occurs.
The good news is that if we have been “conditioned” to respond in a fearful way, we can also be conditioned or “re-conditioned” to respond in a non-fearful way. Just like Pavlov’s dog, we can actually change the way we respond to any event by reconditioning ourselves through repetitive cognitive truthfulness - or through repeated exposure of viewing a situation or an event through the eyes of Truth instead of through the eyes of our old distorted way of thinking.
Another reason to “practice, practice, practice” is that it takes about six months of doing some new thing in our lives, most every day, for it to become a habit. And it takes about a year of daily doing for that thing to become internalized in us. That is to say - it takes about one year for that new thing to become our natural response.”
The great news is that it is entirely possible for us to make “calm and peaceful feelings” our natural response to what used to make us fearful and anxious.
There is no “magic wand.” But there is a cure. It just takes practice.