From PANIC to PEACE
I know you’ve felt it. Everyone has.
I spend my life helping people shift their thoughts, behaviors and outcomes. I teach mindfulness. I meditate every day. I practice what I preach…
And it happened to me this week.
You can feel the heat rise from your toes straight up through your body.
It spreads across your chest – reaching up until your cheeks blaze with it and your ears are on fire.
Your stomach flips.
Your knees weaken.
The spit in your mouth dries up.
It all happens in about two seconds.
Anything can trigger it - actual danger or a gut feeling that something is unfamiliar, not right, or unsafe. But most often, it’s a simple thought that sets it off.
The all familiar uh oh. (Or if you’re me, “oh f*#%!”)
A thought that sets off a chain reaction in your body, and as you're well aware, can absolutely paralyze you.
With a little reverse engineering however, you can set it all right again and move on.
Using the PEACE tool to pivot out of panic.
The pause is critical. It’s what takes you out of the default – which, when you’re panicking, is likely to be a fight, flight, or freeze reaction.
It’s simple to do, simply tell yourself “this is panic.” That’s it, you’ve paused.
Here’s where you’re tapping in to your physiology to get it working for you rather than against you.
Why do I say to exhale rather than just breathe? Because I can pretty much guarantee that you’re still holding your breath at this point.
So go ahead, let it all out. (A big old sigh will work well here too!)
Now that your lungs are empty, your body will automatically inhale. Take a few more nice, slow, deep breaths.
You’ve got your parasympathetic nervous system working for you now, helping to trigger the body’s relaxation response.
Ask yourself what you want to do next. Some helpful questions may be:
What do I want to have happen here?
What is the most useful thing I can do in this moment?
How do I want to show up?
This is responding rather than reacting.
There’s no right or wrong here. You’re making your best guess about what to do in this moment. And because you’re out of that default mode, because you’re intentionally choosing, you’ll be able to evaluate how it goes.
How did it go? What would you do the same in the future? What might you do differently?
The process of evaluating your responses regularly and without judgement, provides your brain with data which, over time, will make that particular panic less likely.