Fear is not our enemy, fear is usually our friend, warning us that danger is near. But sometimes our fear is overwhelming, and we go into an episode of terror.
Recently I experienced several episodes of terror, which could be described as panic attacks. Previously, I had been listening to an audio book about four FBI cases where the murderers were profiled in detail. I wondered if this was the trigger for my series pf panic attacks. if so, why did they disturb me so?
Some years ago, I had recalled a past life where I was convicted and hung for a series of disturbing murders. Recently, I had shared this memory with interviewer Barb Crowley on a podcast Voice of America – Empowerment
When these panic attacks took me, I dealt with the emotions in the usual way outlined in the previous blog, The Gift of Fear. I experienced seven panic attacks over 36 hours, before they stopped.
A few months later, I was watching a Netflix TV series, “I am a Killer.” That night, I woke with two more panic attacks. I used the same Exposure Process and noticed that the final attack was greatly toned down. Even though I continued watching the same TV show, I had no more attacks.
Why were these panic attacks triggered? Was there some disturbing energy left over from the past life personality? Was my panic just a warning, reminding me to not go down that path again?
If it was the latter, the panic attacks were not needed. I know I would never go down that track again, but some of the mechanisms programmed into us humans are automatic. I believe panic attacks are in that category. Let me explain how the triggers are created.
When a fawn wanders into an area where it notices a mountain lion, every one of its senses, (olfactory, visual, auditory and kinaesthetic), are alerted and, at that moment, the brain of the fawn is imprinted. The imprint is a message of danger. For illustrative purposes, let’s assume the fawn reacts and gets away.
Later, the fawn wanders into a different environment but some aspects are similar to those imprinted during the lion incident. It could be a smell, a vision or a sound. The fawn is immediately and automatically swamped with fear chemicals. These chemicals cause the fawn to react physically, so again, it can get away as fast as possible. The chemical message of the imprint suggests a mountain lion may be nearby.
Imprints of fear and panic are protective mechanisms, programmed to help animals and humans survive. Any panic attack is about our safety, reminding us to be cautious. But humans are different to animals. The animals run and get away. We humans often stay, swamped with warning chemicals, which are designed to trigger fear and anxiety.
Here is an example: Two dogs were left in a car by their owner. It was a hot day, so the windows were partially down. Both dogs managed to get out through the window, hoping to follow their owner. But one got caught as it was a tight fit, then fell, and hurt her leg. That dog would never get back into that car again. As far as she was concerned, the car was dangerous.
Imagine being unjustly bawled out at work by an unreasonable boss. You are traumatised, hurt and angry at being treated so badly by this boss. You fear going back to work, but you need the money, so you over-ride your concerns and return. Some of you will have panic attacks if you see or hear the boss approaching. Even when you change jobs, some words, sounds, tones, or actions could trigger a panic attack related to the original treatment by the unreasonable boss.
By allowing other priorities to override our fear response, we can unwittingly set ourselves up for panic attacks. In childhood, when trauma arose and we had nowhere else to go, many panic-attack triggers may have been set.
How do we release these triggers?
If we can uncover the original incident, and the imprints we internalised at the time, the release can come almost automatically. Unfortunately, some of the imprints, which were unconsciously connected to the trauma, can be difficult to identify. Trying to unravel them is still worthwhile.
The sudden unexpected panic attack may have been triggered by one of these unconscious triggers. The process to deal with them is called Exposure Therapy and has been addressed in an earlier blog, The Gift of Fear.
Having panic attacks is not fun. They can be debilitating and oppressive. However, understanding that they were created to keep you safe, can help you understand their nature. Once you come to terms with their existence, you can work on overcoming the power they have to disturb you.
I have noticed I am called to watch real life streaming programs on criminal behaviour. Although I find them alarming, I am interested in figuring out what, if anything, perpetrators and victims can learn by having disturbing experiences.
Our world is carefully designed to help us eventually find our way to joy, beauty, peace and appreciation. Many of us get lost on this path which is a part of our learning. With enough learning experience, we eventually figure out the nature of this system. Sometimes it is hard to believe but fear, anxiety and PTSD are a part of that path. I explain how our human system works in more detail in my book, “Lost Soul, Wise Soul.”
To progress on our path, many of us need to release the triggers we’ve created during our past lives and current life. My clients have found this work is worth undertaking.
Also see Panic attacks with an unusual cause.