Fantasies and Embarrassment
point of fear escalation, men and women often tend to have slightly
different fear fantasies. Typically, men fear they are going to have a
heart attack, and women worry they are going to lose control of their
minds. Both men and women worry that they will embarrass themselves by
doing something foolish or strange. For some people, it overlaps; they
fear all of it. Whatever your particular manifestation of fear, you are
not only afraid of the original situation that caused you to worry.
Your physical symptoms scare you even more.
The past or
future event that triggered the anxiety has moved into the background.
Now you are afraid of the fear itself; your very survival is in
turns inward. It’s out of control, spinning along in a cycle of fear.
It can only think the worst. “This is it! I’m in deep trouble now. What
if I have a heart attack? What if I die?”
longer feel that you’re in control, and in fact you’re not. The fear
has taken over. If you allow it to reach this point, it has built up so
much momentum, you might as well give it a name like “Hurricane
Hopeless” and just wait for it to blow over. But wouldn’t you rather
catch it before it takes you on its tortuous ride? You can.
have panic attacks daily, others have one or two a month, and still
others have only one or two over the span of their lives. Panic attacks
aren’t always easy to recognize or explain. In fact, many people don’t
even realize they’re having one. Instead, they think they’re sick,
having a heart attack, losing their minds, or even dying. Most often,
however, our biggest concern is not about dying. Rather, it is about
embarrassment. “Will anyone notice? What will people think? Will I do
something foolish to embarrass myself or anybody else?”
of mine was telling me about his fear of heights; he was afraid he’d
jump off a balcony.
afraid you’ll die?” I asked him.
he said. “What would people think?”
we’re so afraid and ashamed of our panic attacks, we often try to tell
ourselves that we aren’t having one. This very denial is what allows
the attack to escalate to a point where we can’t do anything about it.
But the sooner we recognize the onset of a panic attack, the sooner we
can begin working to minimize it. Symptoms, although they differ, are
perfectly obvious. If we would only look within, if we were willing to
accept what was happening, we would be able to quickly recognize when we
were moving toward or beginning a panic attack and subsequently prevent
the continuation of the cycle of fear / symptoms / more fear, etc.