Our lives are ruled by regularity and dependency, mundane routines and the like. While I bemoan the way humanity’s fear of the unknown has been its downfall in terms of culture, I know that I wouldn’t have as much control of my panic attacks were it not for the power of repetition. One of the recommended means of fighting anxiety and panic is through a technique called anchoring. Essentially, it consists of connecting two experiences through common usage. For example, I associate the sight of palms pressed together with visits to the local temple, where it’s used as a form of greeting. Another, perhaps better example is the politician’s clenched fist. It conveys assertiveness, confidence and certainty.
It could also be a word, or a mantra. Where Shia LeBoeuf’s “Do it!” reflects urgency, mine reflects reconnecting to reality. I started by using a rather basic riposte to the feeling of impending death: “Not today”. I’d either mutter it under my breath, or in my head until it blocked out any other thoughts. That’s now moved on to something a bit more poetic. I stumbled onto the poem “Invictus”, an ode to overcoming odds. The last lines, as follow, are now my go-to mantra when the panic sets in:
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
I’ll gladly take looking like a sop for admitting this, than still be as gripped as I once was by the panic and anxiety. So, I’d recommend to anyone else struggling with any form of neurosis, to find some comforting phrase or word to push them out of the darkness.