From Panic to Power by Lucinda Bassett begins with a nice ego-pump for those of us who struggle with panic and anxiety. It’s good news! We have above average intelligence, are highly creative and detail-oriented. Ah yes, I thought, ’tis I. Unfortunately, these traits come in very handy for scaring ourselves, too. Oh yeah, that’s me, too. Believe me, pretty-much nobody can beat me at the game of, “What am I dying from today?” Not to toot my own horn or anything.
Self-esteem is something the author weaves throughout the book, along with its opposites: anger, guilt, and blame.
Wherever your guilt is coming from, it all breaks down to the same disempowering labels. “I’m a bad person. I did something wrong. I should be punished.” – Lucinda Bassett
I had a difficult time getting my head around this… but once I did, it was mind-blowing.
There are things, of course, for which you will feel guilty or ashamed. We all know what kinds of things are meant: stealing, murder, infidelity, for example. But there are other things that occupy our minds and cycle around and around, sometimes for years, that cause us to needlessly suffer and erode our self-esteem. In turn, we believe we deserve to be punished and continue the cycle by surrounding ourselves with reminders of our mistakes (which can include journals, websites we visit and certain people, to name a few). God forbid we try to move on.
What I found most freeing is difficult to describe, but I’ll try. If we do something that makes us feel guilty or ashamed… and refuse to let go of it… wear it like a cloak… beat ourselves with it… it erodes ego, yes, but it also builds it up. How? By putting ourselves and our guilt on display, as the most important thing. I feel bad. Do you see how bad I feel. This is all about me! Me, me, me!
What are we talking about here? Self-esteem? Guilt? Okay, yeah, I can see how these two things go together… but what the heck is panic in all this? What does it all mean?
It means that it’s not (necessarily) what’s going on around us that creates panic… it’s how we respond to what’s going on around us or inside us… in relation to how we view ourselves.
I fear I’m not doing the book justice. Honestly, you need to read it!
I will finish by saying that there are neat exercises, bolded quotes and short, easy to understand chapters that include opportunities, techniques and strategies that will help you gain enough personal power to rise above panic attacks. Have I tried them? Yes. Do they work? Yes. Have I stopped having panic attacks? No. But they are far less often, of shorter duration and less debilitating. This book has been a life-saver.
PS: This book suggests that anxiety is not a mental illness. Actually, it doesn’t just suggest it – it says it outright. I’ll be honest in saying it flies in the face of most material on the subject. I disagree with the author but didn’t let it stop me from getting all the good that’s here. Happy reading!