Mastering Panic:
2)  Identifying a sensation and a scary thought


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Here is a simple way to think about panic pizza:  each slice consists of a sensation and a scary thought.  No sensation is ever dangerous, and no scary thought is ever true.

Here’s an example:  For many people recovering from panic disorder, a common sensation is rapid heartbeat.  The scary thought might be "Oh my God, I'm having a heart attack!"  The sensation and scary thought together make up one slice of the pizza.  To master this slice, you learn to challenge the scary thought.

Here's an example of a thought challenge:  

"My heart is beating at about 90 beats per minute.  The idea that I could have a heart attack from that is ridiculous!   My heart is strong, and beating at twice this rate would pose no danger to me.  The chance that I'm having a heart attack is ZERO."

When you identify and then learn to challenge the scary thoughts, you discover a very powerful secret:  EVERY scary thought that comes from panic is an absurd exaggeration, groundless and completely untrue.  Your repeated challenges gradually whittle down each scary thought.  And since panic is only a collection of sensations and scary thoughts, it gets weaker and weaker.  

See if you can identify a slice of your panic pizza – a sensation and a scary thought.  Try to make it very specific.  For example, "I feel strange and I think I'm just going to lose it!" is too vague.  Identifying the slices of your panic pizza is really important work.  

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