On June 7th 2004, reporter Dan Harris hopped on Good Morning America to share the latest news – when out of nowhere panic swept over him.
He started off on the right foot but then it hit him. A wave of terror flooded through his body from his shoulders into his face. His heart pounded away and his palms got sweaty. And then he realized:
You’re on national television. This is happening now. Right now.
Everyone is seeing this, dude.
Do something. Do something.
But he couldn’t.
And that day over 5 million people watching at home witnessed his panic attack. This earth-shaking event spiraled into a personal journey searching for why Dan’s anxiety had taken control over his life, which eventually leads him into the world of meditation.
In his book, 10% Happier, he shares a story which brought to light one of the mental habits that kept him anxious for years:
He was in final hours of a meditation retreat, and the speaker told the audience not to give much thought about what they have to do when the event is over. These are simply thoughts and it’s a waste of time to worry about such things.
This advice didn’t sit well with Dan so he fires back:
“How can you advise us not to worry about the
things we have to do when we reenter the world?
If I miss my plane, that’s a genuine problem.
They are not just irrelevant thoughts”
The speaker replies,
“Fair enough. But when you find yourself running
through your trip to the airport for the seventeeth time,
perhaps ask yourself the following question: ‘Is this useful’?”
‘Is it useful?’ is one of dozens of questions that reins in swirling thoughts and gently regrounds you. Sure – deploying them during a full-blown panic attack probably won’t help. But when you deploy these empowering questions, you can catch anxious thoughts early, before they grow into Godzilla and destroy the city. If you leaf through page 41 of Primal Panic you’ll see 8 other ways to do so as well.
What are your daily questions?
What questions reground you? Or make you feel at your absolute best?
What questions make you feel uncertain and stressed?
Bring them into the sunlight. I’ll warn you this won’t be easy. You’ll have to listen closely because many are so habitual that you hardly notice them.
But this is a well worth it.