Even if you are the least empathic person around — I imagine you can feel it.
There is a deep sense of uncertainty almost like a mist in the air. Fear, concern, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and hope. A mixed jumble of almost tangible emotions.
If you are not in the United States, you likely are not feeling this so keenly. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you also notice it.
Some people hope that today solidifies the current unreality. Others — the majority, frankly — hope today starts the shift back to sanity.
I do not want to get into an in-depth analysis of this. Also, I don’t care to put my focus on this situation any more than I have over the last couple of years. I will make one last statement to this end — if you have not already done so — VOTE TODAY.
Now, as to the almost tangible coming from the intangible — don’t panic! Take the advice of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and do not allow yourself to be carried away by the media circus, by everyone else’s emotions, and the collective consciousness.
Like blame, panic serves no purpose. It is a visceral reaction to fear that tends to cause inaction rather than action. And like many other things in this life — this is a choice.
When you feel yourself beginning to panic — there are steps you can take to avert it, lessen it, and keep it at bay.
I bet it will come as no surprise when I tell you this boils down to mindfulness.
Many people do not realize just how much control they have over their lives.
It certainly feels like control is lacking. Between societal expectations, the constant flood of advertising telling you what to do, and all the things instilled in you by parents, teachers, religious leaders, friends, coworkers, etcetera over a lifetime.
Yet when all is said and done you are in control. Why? Because who else is in your head with you? Nobody. Who can think your thoughts? Just you. Who feels what you feel? Only you.
Because your mindset/headspace/psyche belongs to you and only you — it is yours to control. What that means is you choose how you think, feel, act, and intend things to be done.
Mindfulness is when you consciously be aware of the here-and-now. That allows you to know what your thoughts, feelings, actions, and intentions are. Said awareness allows you to be in control.
When you feel panic coming on — you can pause, reflect, and ask yourself questions to take control of it.
· What is upsetting me?
· Why am I feeling unnerved?
· Where is this coming from?
· How can I stand-up to this?
Note — this is a pre-panic thing. Once you begin to actually panic getting out of it is a whole other matter. This is my suggestion for preventative measures.
These questions allow you to be mindfully in control.
Whenever I have felt panic coming on, I ask these and like questions. I find that when I am proactive and mindful in this way, I can prevent panic.
What if you are already in panic mode?
This gets a lot more challenging. One reason is that panic is not a single, simple emotional state. It is an experience. It’s a blended mix of thoughts and feelings in extremes.
Depression is not too different from panic. Like panic, it can manifest itself in numerous different forms. Anger, sadness, fear, frustration, mania, hurt, hopelessness, rage — and any combination therein.
Panic, likewise, can take numerous forms. Terror, uncertainty, hopelessness, confusion, dread, dismay, and other similar emotions and thoughts or a blend of all the above.
Once it lands, panic tends to erase rationality and reason. It hamstrings your ability to be in control because it is a perceived reality of extreme negativity.
Yet you have the power to lessen panic. Mindfulness, of course, is the key to this.
The challenge is relocating your rationality. Panic tends to make you see only an immediate, scary, unmanageable threat. It disempowers you and robs you of control.
Except it doesn’t. It FEELS like it does. But it doesn’t. Because you can ALWAYS be in control.
The first step is to identify why you are panicking. It might be super obvious — a tsunami wave about to wash over you is hard to deny. Fear of potentially dangerous and destructive reactions on the part of other people, on the other hand, is harder to quantify.
Start by breathing more deeply. Slow your heart (panic tends to race the heart). Try to snap your brain back at attention and not let the visceral reaction dominate your mindset/headspace/psyche.
To be fair — this is far easier with intangibles than tangibles. Panic at the sight of oncoming death is a very different matter from panic about an unknown possibility coming to pass. However, the latter is the more frequent cause of panic — and easier to lessen via mindfulness.
Believe in yourself
Panic, in my experience, is built upon losing the ability to reason and giving into strong emotions.
Specifically, fear dominates panic.
As FDR famously said,
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Paulo Coelho, in The Alchemist, offers an explanation of the meaning of this statement.
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.”
What this means is that most of the things we fear are utterly intangible. And more than the thing itself — we are afraid of the suffering that could potentially come to pass in the realization of our fear.
Panic is when that fear overwhelms your thoughts, feelings, and ability to reason. It is fear dominating your mindset/headspace/psyche and rendering you incapacitated.
This is often the result of believing you are powerless. You feel like there is nothing you can do. You think that there is no way to overcome this situation or circumstance.
While it’s true you have ZERO control over other people or experiences outside of yourself — you have total control of you.
However, we are inundated daily with messages about all the ways we lack, are unworthy, are not good enough to do, be, or have this, that, or the other thing. Success is measured at levels so surreal that it becomes a scarce commodity.
None of this is the truth, however. You are made of infinite power, potential, and possibility. To realize this, you need to better believe in yourself.
Know that you are capable of handling more than you think you can. How do I know this? Because you’re here. Every single terrible thing that has ever occurred in your life, you have overcome. You’ve done it before — you can and will do it again. That’s the reality of it.
Reality and time are what you perceive them to be
Many people accept that reality as we know it is fixed.
But the truth is that it’s not. As Albert Einstein told us,
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
Panic is often due to a perceived, intangible threat to your reality. It is something you deeply fear coming to pass that will upset how you live and who you are.
When you understand that reality is not set in stone nor utterly fixed and that it is based on your perception of it — you open yourself to better controlling and altering it.
Time, like reality, is also an illusion. Both tend to get linked together. But each is alterable and wholly based on your perspective of them.
As The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy tells us,
“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
Panic is often the result of an imminent impact on your reality and not enough time to stop or prevent it. When this awful thing comes to pass — I am fucked. The anticipation of potential bad or something you fear robs you of reason and triggers panic.
It can be a real challenge to work on this, but you can choose to practice mindfulness and better root yourself in your own headspace/mindset/psyche. That, in turn, will lesson how readily panic may come on.
I know that this may seem like a big ask. But the truth is that you have much more power to control your life and what happens in it than much of the messaging you receive would have you believe. In these particularly uncertain times, panic will not help you get through. But mindfulness can and will.
The reason, logic, and power are yours
Empower yourself. You have gotten this far — and unless you are in mortal peril right this very moment -you can and will get through this, too.
Nobody knows what tomorrow will present to us. Even the best possible outcome will not simply erase the present uncertainty so predominant in the world today. But panicking only disempowers you. Understand this, acknowledge it, recognize it — and use your thoughts, feelings, actions, and intents to apply reason and logic to it.
The best way to do anything for anyone else is to start by caring for yourself.
Take control. Believe in yourself. Work with the fact that reality and time are what you perceive them to be — and that panic tends to be about the fear of suffering more than what will come to pass.
Take a deep breath. Keep breathing. Calm and center yourself however you can. You’ve got this.
Thank you for reading. I am MJ Blehart. I write about mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, and similar life lessons.