Yesterday we ended with the beautiful vision of a brave fearless phoenix rising from the ashes of order. Epic. Such a phrasing might also evoke certain level of anxiety, wouldn’t it? Magnificent visions, high expectations and peer pressure are all unsettling inducers of fear. Especially taking into account personal, economic and social dependencies, responsibilities for others or the practical burden of having to our monthly bills. How do we possibly disrupt the order and embrace chaos? The only thing we want is certainty and security the system provides.
Sophisticated, well organised and detailed systems of support are potential sources of anxiety. When the structure like that falls, the risk for existential collapse is very high. When we follow a stable, constructed path for too long we lose our adaptive qualities, slowly but steadily walking into a tunnel. We narrow down our possible options for our actions, unable to see beyond the light spot in front of us. The promise of a better future that will never come. And as we don’t know for sure that that is the case, we fuel the hope with excuses, explanations and disclaimers. We keep on walking, carrying a heavy burden, piling up things, obligations, complexes and doubts. The road becomes more and more narrow, we start to shrink while intuitively feel that perhaps this road isn’t heading anywhere. In that moment we start to notice that the light in the end of the tunnel, where the happiness is supposed to be, isn’t that bright any more. Our accumulated baggage becomes so big and so heavy that we can barely move forwards, we can’t turn around as our movements are restricted and the tunnel somehow got so tiny that we start suffocating.
In this moment our attention shifts to the body and we feel the wave of unusual sensations in our chest, we try to breath but it amplifies the sensation to the point that we start fearing the sensation itself. We get into the loop of anxiety, adrenaline rushes through the body, enhancing the experience and disconnecting us form the reality. We are not in the tunnel anymore, with our heavy but dear belongings, now we are in the panic attack. Anxiety is taking over our inner state where we lose all the connection with initial source of fear. The ability to think rationally and activate support systems subsides, we get so scared of our own reaction and bodily sensations that eventually we pass out. Our brain is tired, we feel exhausted.
Take a breath now.
The good news is that usually panic attacks don’t last long and won’t hurt us. The best strategy is not to run away from the experience, trying to escape the feeling, but to sit with it and allow it to be. As difficult as it might sound, it seems to be the most effective strategy to get us out. If we will manage to accommodate and perhaps even get curious about the sensation, our emotional intelligence will grow and build more adaptive flexibility to the potentially dangerous experiences that await in the future.
The tunnel is an inescapable part of our lives. We build collective tunnels, personal tunnels, emotional tunnels, tunnels of pain and pleasure, labyrinths of many dimensions and complexities. The key is to once in a while rise up and realise the complexity, while walking on the ground it is so easy to lose the bigger picture and realise the multiplicity of options that surround us. We need support systems to feel safe and be able to feel strong and develop. Then we are able stay in constant movement between the tunnels, shifting, disrupting, building, rearranging and adapting to whatever comes.
Let our inner rebel play freely and see where it will take us. What we resist, persists.