In an earlier post, we talked about how anxious people torture themselves by experiencing first fear, which is the normal startle reaction that everyone gets, and then how we add a ton of second fear to it. We don’t even realize we’re doing it, so that’s why something like getting a haircut or standing in line at a store can send us into a full blown panic attack.
Today I’m proposing a challenge- let’s try not adding any second fear today.
In this short audio, I explain how I have learned to notice and separate first fear from the second. Going to the grocery store has been a challenge for me over the years, so that’s what I use in this example.
By talking to myself calmly and rationally, I can keep the anxiety monster at bay, and even prevent a panic attack. It’s a really cool technique and I encourage you to give it a try in some small way.
It helps me to have all the positive stuff I say to myself really simple and easy to remember, because I’ve found that it’s hard to think straight when that second fear is trying to come in and make me panic.
You can even repeat a mantra, such as “I am safe….Anxiety is just a feeling…..It can NOT harm me…..I am safe……I am going to be fine….I know this is nothing more than second fear….etc”
I am going into a yoga class in about a half hour where I had a panic attack a few days ago because of who was in the class. Today I’m going go to the class fully prepared. If the cliquey girls (they’re not girls by the way, these are all women in their 40’s) are there and my social anxiety kicks in, I will do my best to label and separate my fears and do my damnedest not to add any second fear.
Recovering from anxiety does take some exposure into the feared situation. I try to do it in little baby steps.
Can you try to notice first fear when you’re in a panic attack triggering situation today and not add second fear to it? Let me know how it goes for you. Good luck!
I wish you peace,
ps. Everything I learned about first and second fear is from Peace From Nervous Suffering from the late Dr. Claire Weekes. It is a must read for anxiety sufferers, in my opinion.