Tip #78: Recognise that one of the main causes of panic attacks is the fear of a panic attack.
The why: There’s a moment in Harry Potter (I know, I’m a nerd) where Remus Lupin tells Harry that “it is wise to be most afraid of fear itself.”
For a person with anxiety, this quote has a particular meaning.
Sometimes we may not fear a situation, but we fear having a panic attack in a situation.
For instance, sometimes when I get invited on holiday, or to a party, or to speak at an event I think to myself:
“Wow, this is going to be so much fun!” (Just kidding)
“What if I have a panic attack and it’s really embarrassing?”
I know that these situations could cause me anxiety, so I then worry about the effects my anxiety will have on me whilst there. What if panic strikes and everyone wonders who invited that girl huffing into a paper bag whilst crouched over crying and whispering to the dog?
Not that that has ever happened to be before…
The fear of these what if scenarios then leads to me indeed having a panic attack, because I’m afraid of what will happen if I go.
The fear of fear itself is what brings on the anxiety attack.
What I have started doing to talk myself down is to say:
“Listen up brain. I am not going to have a panic attack at this event. I know this because I am telling you now it’s not going to happen. Me thinking I’m going to have one will be the only thing to make me have one. Even if I do, I can just leave politely. But I’m going, and it’s going to be fine.”
Repeat this mantra over and over and your brain will eventually listen.