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 answer the scary thought.

Here's an example of how to answer a scary thought:  

"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 answer the scary thoughts, you discover a very powerful secret:  EVERY scary thought that comes from panic is an absurd exaggeration! Your repeated answers 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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