Handling the Panic Imperative

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 9th Sep 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Daily Life

Change is the one constant in our lives, we all think we are good at handling change, but when specific conditions are thrust on us against our will then we tend to react badly. How do you react when your comfort zone is squeezed by people you barely know? When change happens on your own terms your are always comfortable, but when other people set the terms the comfort factor goes away.

Handling the Challenge

We all have to face challenges or changes many times during the course of our lives, truth is people love change when they are in control of everything that happens - that trip to the Bahamas, buying that new car etc. When change is forced upon us by others is a time when we go through many intense emotions, and in the most extreme of situations actually close down altogether.

A distraught woman hails a cab in a strange town in the middle of the night, her husband just left, driving away in a rage and has turned his cell phone off, she wants a ride home, but cannot afford the cost of the trip, her credit card is 'maxed out' and she does not have enough cash in the bank, this leaves her in a panicked state; she is in a strange city without enough money to survive; her whole world seems to be collapsing right in front of her eyes; this beautiful resort is the last place she wants to be right at this moment.

How much worse can things get? This is a question of perspective - to the person suffering anything can happen, this is just one more thing in a whole chain of events, but to the outsider it all seems controllable.

Red Light Reflex

People panic when faced with situations that are, or seem to be, out of their control. Each of us likes to face new challenges, but we wish to do so on our own terms and when a sudden unexpected change is thrust on us by others is when we tend to panic, we experience what Dr Thomas Hanna described as a "Red Light Reflex", also known as the withdrawal or startle response where the neuromuscular system reacts to sustained negative stress as a major input. This reflex is linked to one of our primitive survival reflex which lies deep outside of our conscious control and when activated makes people feel threatened and sends out primitive, beastly reactions especially when sudden change is thrust upon us by the actions of others, it is then that many people's sense of control is lost, leaving them feeling threatened; even potentially in fear of their lives or worse their personal safety, this is where panic sets in for many people. Whether in work or personal lives everyone can all be affected by the actions of others, causes the panic imperative to kick in.

The impact of change on you is perhaps the most import thing we need to understand for your own personal development. Your employers implementing a new computer system? Just got let go by a company you have been loyal to for 25 years? Going through separation or divorce? These are all situations where change is thrust on one person by another and research has shown that with all similar situations there is a grief cycle associated with any such change. Part of the problem is that most people do not know how to react in any situation until it happens. No matter who we are all of us are affected by this situation to some extent. We have to get through the grief cycle in order to move on to the next part of our lives. Moving on is important as none of us can ever remain in the same place in our lives.

Handling Change

Peter DeJager states "Change is all about moving from Competence (knowing how to do something) to Incompetence (when learning something new), and when you're incompetent, you'll naturally feel incompetent. Our real problem with change is how we react to it. We expect change to be immediate and we get depressed when it takes time." and "The key to coping with (and managing) change, is the knowledge that change hurts, that it takes time, that it brings about natural feelings of incompetence and confusion. Once you can accept these facts of change... then change becomes a process, something you can manage and cope with... even when it hurts".

To a large extent it is all about how you react to the challenge that matters and in advance it is not possible to predict how each person will react.

The Panic Imperative

The key thing about any panic situation is controlling how we react and return to normal. But what is normal now the status-quo has gone? The job, the husband, etc. were a vital part of your life and now it is gone. The loyal employee who lost his job after twenty years says he was the most productive person at the company, he felt the company would collapse without him there to hold it together. On one morning he arrived, was called immediately into the manager's office, where they marched him right back out of the door. Getting home he told his wife that he would get a job in two weeks, yet it took him over two years to find another job, during that time his emotions were all over the place, yet for him the key factor was discovering that he did not have to replace the fantastic job he previously held, but simply find a new one. When he found that new job, it had a lower salary, but it had significant other benefits, including being in his local neighbourhood.

When our world is swept away it is a feeling of worthlessness that seems to control everything, the new status-quo is something which has never been viewed as possible beforehand, it is easier to say "Don't Panic" than to enforce that concept on yourself and to a large extent this is where people need the support of those around them. Things are rarely as bad as they seemed at first glance. For the distraught wife it turned out that her husband had simply gone out to fetch a special surprise early in the morning and had taken the car thinking he would be back before she woke, one argument later that were back in each others arms.

For the man who lost his job after 25 years, he may still have no job in the morning, but adjusting and starting his search are vital steps in returning to normality. The point is to take control and ensure that panic does not rule your life at this time. Facing any new challenge an there is always a learning cycle associated with it. How the individual moves from their low point to a new level of competence can be a key factor that influences their success with future endeavours. Develop the right attitude and things change.

Other articles for You

The following articles, have each been published by Peter Giblett and may be of some interest to you:

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Comfort Zone, Grief Cycle, Handling Change, How Much Worse, Intense Emotions, Like, New Challenges, Other Peoples Terms, Our Own Terms, Panic, Red Light Reflex, The Panic Imperative

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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author avatar drrajeevddn
10th Sep 2013 (#)

Nice Post :)

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
10th Sep 2013 (#)

Good show Peter!

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author avatar Rubinstyn
10th Sep 2013 (#)

Very good and timely post Peter.

The paramount point to remember about change is ATTITUDE! My Great-Grandchildren adore me and think that "I know everything." (smile) Truth is, if one continues to wake up daily and pay attention to their situations and circumstances, then that person "should" begin to see a cycle of how things work in this life. There is nothing new under the sun and most times during our cycles of change, our worst enemy is our own vivid imaginations. Example: "Remember the last "earth shaking" change the you experienced where you had little on no control at all and your imagination conjured up the worst case scenario as the outcome?
Well the situation did in fact work itself out eventually and the out come in many cases seemed to be a miracle compared to what your mind had prepared you for.

When a person realizes this simple truth and applies it to their next change in life coupled with the positive attitude that "all will be well", then it makes for a much smoother ride through life.

Change is not something to be feared, but embraced. We are all changing daily while we are on this side of Heaven.

Keep up the good work sir!

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
10th Sep 2013 (#)

attitudes change. up and down..when you move into altitude you see from a higher and clearer perspective..

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author avatar Trillionaire
10th Sep 2013 (#)

Thanks, nice post.

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author avatar Retired
10th Sep 2013 (#)

Very informative Peter.

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author avatar Ian R Thorpe
10th Sep 2013 (#)

Excellent article Peter,
Winston Churchill's phrase "Keep calm and carry on" has become very overworked since 2008, but it is wise advice. If we take a step back and assess the situation we usually find there is quite a lot we can do to steer ourselves towards a tolerable outcome, even if it is not what we had planned. And to use another cliche, "what does not kill us makes us stronger."

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
10th Sep 2013 (#)

Excellent indeed Peter...thank you...

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author avatar Connie McKinney
10th Sep 2013 (#)

Thank you, Peter, for some great advice. Change is hard and scary but it can be worked through.

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author avatar Retired
10th Sep 2013 (#)

Interesting article. Thank You

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author avatar writestuff
10th Sep 2013 (#)

Great post. Physical change is natural, but hard and the source of many student panic attacks especially in pre-school classes. Re-arrange the class room environment in the middle of the semester and many students become uncomfortable. Some will decry- 'this is not my room'. Others will try to re-arrange their seating to conform to to the way it was.

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author avatar Peppernina63
11th Sep 2013 (#)

I agree with you about change, everyone doesn't accept change the same way. Thank you for sharing.

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