The Value of Self-talk
I used to have episodes of panic attacks. After the panic attack subsided I’d remain in a heightened state of anxiety for days in dread of more panic attacks. This heightened state of anxiety led to more panic attacks, more anxiety, more panic attacks, etc. It was a vicious cycle.
Eventually I learned that the primary cause of my panic attacks was some small change in my body that I would pick up subconsciously and that would lead to fearful thoughts just below my conscious awareness. These thoughts would lead to the rush of adrenaline that fueled the panic attacks. For example, I noticed I often had panic attacks at the beginning of Fall. When I paid attention I became aware that there was a very slight thickening feeling in my bronchia. I was experiencing a small allergic response. I would subconsciously pick up on this and I’d have thoughts just below my conscious awareness that I was suffocating. But even after I discovered this I felt powerless to do anything about it. I tried talking to myself about what was going on, for example, “This is just a mild allergic response. I am not suffocating. My bronchia are just swelling a little. This happens every Fall. I never suffocate.” Etc. But this did not lead to an immediate reduction in adrenaline and panic so I didn’t pursue it. Until one day I did. I just kept talking calmly to myself about what was really occurring just as I would to a friend having a panic attack. And lo and behold I found that talking to myself about what was really occurring eventually did reduce the adrenaline and therefore the panic. It wasn’t immediate. It took a few minutes, but it worked. The adrenaline would go down and the panic would subside.
This lesson in persistently correcting thoughts and giving them time to work is something I’ve taken with me into this process of attaining peace. Originally I let the ego’s (personal thought system’s) thoughts run on and on and felt helpless to do anything about them. I learned that arguing with the ego only made its guilty, fearful thoughts more real to me. But when I persisted with correcting thoughts, rather than arguing with the ego, I found relief. Guilt and fear did not subside immediately when I corrected the thoughts that induced them. But they did subside subsequently if I was persistent in correcting the thoughts. I learned to not let the ego have the last word. If it said something that I could not dismiss but which I feared, I corrected the thought so that it did not remain the last thought in my mind.
The ego gets to you by repeating the same false, negative, guilty, fearful thoughts over and over again. You hear these unconsciously or consciously and you believe them. So you have to do the same thing with the facts. You have to counter with facts the ego’s thoughts over and over again until the facts undo them. You must correct the ego’s thoughts with thoughts that you believe. If you do not believe in what you say to counter the ego it will not work. And the correction must be specific if the thought is specific. General thoughts will not correct specific thoughts. So, for example, if the ego says you are an idiot for making a social faux pas do not say “The ego is an illusion. Everything it says is false” unless you can see that the ego is an illusion and everything it says is false. Say instead, “I didn’t commit a sin; I just made a simple human mistake. There is no god outside of me that will punish me for this. I’m not perfect as a person and I never will be. I am perfect in Truth.” More than just saying this, think about the meaning what you are saying. Sometimes you may have to repeat correcting ideas many times before the ego will stop using specific circumstances for attack. But self-talk does eventually work. If it wasn’t a useful tool the ego wouldn’t use it!
Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at www.acimmentor.com.