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Power Over Panic
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Third Edition


by Bronwyn Fox

Power Over Panic - Book Extract

Mindfulness as a cognitive technique p73

For me on a personal note, one of the most valuable aspects of mindfulness as a cognitive technique was that it taught me to believe emotionally that nothing was going to happen as a result of my panic and anxiety. We may know intellectually that our panic and anxiety will not hurt us, but emotionally we don’t believe it. Recovery means we need to believe it emotionally

Mind States p156

The reality is nothing happens to us as a result of our attacks and anxiety. Our life as we knew it can be destroyed by our ‘what if’ and similar thinking, but our worst fears do not come true. When I say this in the workshops, I can tell by the expression on everyone’s face that they don’t believe me. Everyone is thinking to themselves, ‘It is going to be me. I am going to be the one who will die from it, go insane from it, lose control in some way’. Why?

As I always say, ‘Why will you be the first one this is going to happen to? Why will you be the first one to be written about in all the medical journals as being ‘the one it happened to’? Our thought that ‘I will be the one’, is just another thought. But we unknowingly give our thoughts the power to destroy our lives.
It is the way we perceive and think about our experience which disables us and creates havoc in our lives.

Our various mind states, i.e. the way we think, turns on the fight and flight response and our symptoms of panic and anxiety are the result. Or we may dissociate and then become caught up in thoughts, which turns on the fight and flight response, which again creates our anxiety and panic.

Most of us realise and acknowledge how negative our thoughts are, and we know at one level how our thoughts are creating our distress. But there is a ‘gap’ between knowing this and working effectively with our thinking. We can try various techniques – positive thinking, distraction techniques or realistic thinking – but many of us can’t cross over the divide and stop the many and varied fears we have. We keep on getting caught back into the overall experience of our disorder. What we don’t realise is that we have become caught up in our various mind states.

And our mind moves in and out of different mind states. And our thoughts create all our feeling states – our happiness, sadness, anger, boredom, depression, excitement, irritability, hopefulness, helplessness, panic, anxiety, fear, and freedom. We don’t realise that we move in and out of these feeling states, guided by the way we are thinking. And we can move in and out of these feeling states from moment to moment.

One moment we can be feeling happy and a thought arises, - ‘I am feeling so good.’ This is followed by another thought about feelings of happiness not lasting, and we become anxious or depressed. Then we think, ‘I knew it wouldn’t last!’ and we become attached to associated thoughts – ‘Why does this always happen to me? Why can’t I be happy?’ We become a participant in our mind states.

 

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