The Enemy Of Our Imagination
People who experience panic attacks will often say that they feel out of control as soon as the panic is in full swing. Christian Nevell Bovee once wrote:
“Panic is a sudden desertion of us, and a going over to the enemy of our imagination.”
Doesn’t that sum it up well?
A confident self assured person can suddenly feel powerless and vulnerable as soon as the panic manifests. As the bodily sensations race, the mind jumps from logic and reason to wild fears fueled by the imagination.
The hardest part for most people to get their heads around is why they feel so suddenly powerless during a panic attack?
The automatic reaction for most to the sensations of a panic attack are to fight against it. To shut it down and end it as soon as possible. Coping techniques like deep breathing and distraction are mildly effective at best. When these techniques fail to get results, that is when the person really leaps over to ‘the enemy of their imagination’.
It goes something like this:
“I used all my coping techniques but I still feel very anxious, in fact it may be getting worse!
“What if this keeps getting worse and no help can get to me here?”
Where people run with this type of thinking their imagination will continue to escalate the fear, leaving them feeling more and more vulnerable and out of control.
The secret to regain control and come back to yourself, is to learn how to respond to the panic in an appropriate manner.
The solution is to work with the bodily sensations rather than against them.
Let me give you a small example. If you were sitting on a train and started to feel sensations that indicated the beginning of a panic attack, instead of trying to stop the experience do the opposite.
Acknowledge that you are safe, label the sensations and then tell the sensations that scare you, to get worse. If you are sweating tell your body to sweat more, if your heart is racing, tell it to race faster.
Move into the experience rather than against it.
The real panic only begins as soon as you hand over reason and control to your imagination. By moving into the experience voluntarily, you become the decision maker and therefore retain control. If you’re going to have a panic attack it is going to happen on your terms.
You empower yourself because you are directing the whole experience not handing “over to the enemy of our imagination.”
Learn more about this approach and how to apply it to various manifestations of panic and general anxiety.