Do you sometimes feel panicky, and afraid that you will “lose it” or be unable to get to safety? Perhaps you then tell yourself “I can’t make it” or that “Something awful is about to happen.”
The inner conversation we sometimes have with ourselves is called “Self Talk.” Self Talk can be both beneficial and detrimental to your ability to cope with circumstances confronting you, depending on the kind of Self Talk you do. When you encourage yourself, and remember positive experiences, Self Talk can be supportive and can even serve as a method for reminding us of the proper sequence of steps toward a successful outcome. This happens when we “pre”-talk ourselves through a difficult phone call, or a golf shot, or making a toast at a wedding. Sometimes though our Self Talk can turn negative. This especially true when we have lost confidence and are now facing a challenging situation, as when we feel an Panic or Anxiety Attack coming on. Then we can frighten ourselves with Self Talk that undermines our confidence that we can manage our anxiety. This negative Self Talk usually takes the form of dire predictions like “I’m going to die”, or “I’m losing control.”
Learning to identify and change your negative Self Talk will help you to maintain control of your responses to anxiety provoking situations. You can learn to identify and change your Self Talk by thinking about it as soon as you begin to feel anxiety. Ask yourself what you are “saying”, and then change the message to one that you know is more accurate. For example, when your heart starts pounding, instead of listening to Self Talk telling you you’re going to pass out, change the message to “I notice my heart is pounding, which means I’m feeling anxious. Even though this is uncomfortable, I know that I am not in danger, so I can relax a little.” This new Self Talk message both validates your physical experience and, importantly, cancels the negative internal message that undermines your self confidence and self control. The best part is that for many people who have Panic Attacks this technique works to reduce the number and the severity of the attacks!
Learning new Self Talk skills is best done with assistance and coaching from a qualified mental health professional. If you are experiencing Panic Attacks make an appointment today and learn to talk more nicely to yourself. By doing so you will begin taking back control of your life.