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Yikes & The Wise One: A Panic Self-Talk Exercise

How to Stop Panic Attacks

“OMG! The check-out line is a mile long – I can’t do this. I’m petrified!”

I’ve been on an anxiety writing kick lately. And that’s a good thing because, frankly, anxiety all too often takes a back seat to depression. That includes press, research, treatment, meds, and more.

Today, I’m bringing you an effective (and fun) self-talk exercise to keep in your back pocket. Use it the next time panic and anxiety are trying to get the best of you. And feel free to customize to taste.

The Adventures of Yikes and The Wise One

Yikes is a panic sufferer, standing in line with a full cart at the grocery checkout. She was shaky even as she walked in the front door, but she’s thinking she’s about to go over-the-top. Oh, two parties have lined-up behind her.

“Dang, I’m trapped. What in the heck am I going to do now?”

Well, she could grab the bag of Doritos out of the cart behind her and start rabidly munching. The comfort food effect might work. Nah! Here’s the conversation I’d like to see her have – with herself…

The Adventures of Yikes and The Wise One

Yikes
Can you believe this? I’m boxed in – trapped like a rat. And Mr. Coupon Clipper in front of me has decided to stock all three of his freezers. (heart racing, breathing choppy, brow breaking a sweat)

The Wise One
And your point is?

Yikes
Well, I can’t get out – how’s that for a point? (heart in throat, feeling smothered, eyebrows drenched)

The Wise One
So what!

Yikes
Hello! I’m looking at a panic attack here, that’s “So what!” (considering the possibility of a defibrillator, breathing rapidly, sweat dripping into eyeballs)

The Wise One
And…

Yikes
What do you mean, “And…” How am I supposed to get out, because all hell’s about to break loose? (blood vessels bulging, legs of jelly, thinking paper or plastic for hyperventilation, eyeballs on fire)

The Wise One
Um – you’d calmly say excuse me and walk out.

Yikes
Yeah – okay – and what about this metal thing on wheels full of food I’m hanging-on to? (one leg up on the conveyor belt looking to lie down, reaching for plastic, tears mixing with sweat, desperate for I.V. fluids and Xanax)

The Wise One
Leave it.

Yikes
Leave this, bucko! Don’t you think that’ll come off as just a bit strange? (ripping-out eye holes in plastic bag over head, conveyor belt occupied – and soaked)

The Wise One
So who cares?

Yikes
I care! But, okay, okay – you may have a point. Just give me a second or two to pull myself somewhat together. Alright – I suppose I could just sort of sneak out if I had to. I mean, leaving the cart behind and all… (one leg off of conveyor belt in an attempt to stand, asking for a sponge)

The Wise One
Anytime you want.

Yikes
Sooooo – I guess there’s no real reason to be flipping-out here. I mean, the panic bit. Yeah, I’m all good. Think I’ll stick around and take care of biz. (code blue cancelled, bag removed from head, I.V. pulled, asking for yet another sponge)

The Wise One
Ju’ got it.

Now, I’m sure that little conversation sounded goofy as heck (I hope it did). But Yikes just talked herself through a very raw panic situation and waltzed out of it unscathed.

Remember, it’s your right to walk out of any situation that makes you uncomfortable. I mean, who cares what anyone thinks? And just knowing you can split whenever you want, regardless of the social fallout, will rid you of a huge amount of pressure and help you avoid many a panic attack.

Listen! The next time a situation similar to Yikes’ – in any setting – pops up, recall her self-conversation and continue on without a panic event.

And be sure to enjoy a bit of a giggle, as well. Come on, have some fun and recall this little exercise the next time a difficult moment approaches.

The Close

I want you to always remember to take the situation setting off the alarms to the ultimate extreme – the “nth” degree – the worst possible ending.

And your natural powers of reason will show you, in spite of it all, you’ll more than survive; making it so much easier to cope with the problem at hand.

So how ’bout it? I’m doing my best to give the anxiety readers a little love.

I hope it helps…