I was doing a presentation of a new product today at work. A few years ago I heard a phrase from Dr Claire Weekes that was life changing for me and I used it today and I wanted to share it with you guys:
I was speaking and demonstrating to about 10 people. And felt anxiety kicking in… not the pre-public speaking normal anxiety, it was that anxiety that makes your vision go blurry and you feel dizzy and it tightens your throat. That anxiety that makes you feel like your legs are wobbly and you’re going to faint, the anxiety symptoms that trigger a panic attack. And there I was in front of 10 people feeling all of that WHILE talking and explaining a whole new technical product. In 5 seconds a huge amount of things went through my mind: that I would faint in front of everyone, that I would have a brain fog and forget everything, that I wouldn’t be able to speak and my brain started to feel a bit confused and there I was – A panic attack was starting to kick in! Then I that phrase from Claire Weeks came back to my mind “a panic attack it’s just an ‘electric wave’ travelling through your nerves, don’t let an electric wave ruin your life”. Suddenly my brain switched from having that horrible fear from observing that it actually felt like if an electric wave was travelling through my body. And I just let it flow, I don’t need to panic, it’s just a wave pulsing through my over-sensitive nervous system. I decided that if my body wanted to feel dizzy “I’d let it be, I’d keep talking”… if my legs wanted to shake, I’d let it shake! I was going to keep talking!
All of that reasoning happened in a space of a minute or less.
I kept speaking and accepting all my bodily sensations and I thought to myself: “yeah body, you deal with it, my mind is busy now, I won’t let an electric wave ruin this important moment”.
I kept talking while observing that wave going through my body and suddenly all those panic thoughts went away! When I realised I was in the end of the presentation answering questions and totally forgot that just a few minutes ago I was starting to have a panic attack and I had just overcome it! I felt strong! I felt like giving myself a hug in celebration! Today, I won!
And this picture below I took last week on a real human body exposition I went to (Body Vitals).
This is what the nervous system looks like. I thought the visual could be useful for a better understanding of what your nervous system looks like, and anxiety/panic attacks are nothing more than an over-sensitive nervous system that is always looking for any different bodily sensations to put you in a state of panic. Every person experiences weird bodily sensations once in a while. The difference is that they don’t have an over-sensitive nervous system, so that doesn’t trigger anxiety/panic attacks for them. For us (people who deal with anxiety), if we learn to let the waves go through and accept the bodily sensations, we can desensitise the nervous system back to a normal level over time. Its a journey that needs practice, and we sure have setbacks, but anxiety is not bigger than us and doesn’t have to control our lives. I’ve learnt that acceptance and observation and confrontation are the key.
Another day, another lion.