Focus Not Force Introduction Understand the EXACT process of Anxiety Panic Awarded 5 stars by UK Mental Health Foundation fear panic obsessive

Focus Not Force

                   KNOWLEDGE BEFORE POWER           

ADVICE COLUMN - excerpts from TMW


In this discussion in Chapter 7 - Therese sums up what so many sufferers feel...that 'if' they read anything other than what they 'think' is the cause they will suffer a horrible fate! Yes, we all feel like this and understandably so, as we know we've tried so many things, heard so many different theories that we really don't want to feel marooned on that desperate island any more, listening to people tell us what's wrong when we have such a firm view of how we should deal with it anyway. Therese outlines here how frightened she was of reading my book - thankfully she didn't feel like that after! I will now aim to put differing advice columns on here - taking excerpts from the book or from new enquiries re differing subjects/conditions and obsessive symptoms/coping behaviours.... 

Hello Will, I came across your site/book through Paul's 'Anxiety No More' website. I have read Paul's book and been involved in the site for a couple of months. I have been wrapped up in this condition for 10 years plus.

I now know that ALL of it is through over-thinking and watching myself - the way/perception I have of things makes the steam that makes this unpleasant state that I've been wrapped up in daily.

I do not want to get involved in the 'search' anymore - but I am keen to understand, so that I am able to rationally think/not think. As I was a little nervous of getting the book I mentioned it to Candie and she thought I would be fine as it works on the same basis as Paul does of 'acceptance'.

So I look forward to reading the book and increasing my understanding and my road to recovery.

Thanks Kind Regards Terese

Hi Terese - all I will say at this stage - is we will always live that fine line between destruction and production, as that is who we are - however, if we realise to go with us, without reacting to us - as you will see this is where I say we enter our forced after-reaction - we will flow more 'in the moment'. Take a look anyway and don't be too afraid as I hope my book doesn’t bite!! Cheers Will and feel free to come back whenever.

On Tue 5/05/09 12:12 PM, Terese sent:

Hi Will,

I am finding the book to be very helpful in my understanding - I now do recognise that it is my inability to believe that whatever 'symptom' I am suffering will eventually go and… what is causing it…that is my problem.

I have realised that whatever symptom it is and over the years there have been so many, that once I find an acceptable 'reason' or have watched myself come out of it, things dramatically improve - but I then got into the cycle of holding onto good moments (MORD pt 4) by repeating these 'good' thoughts - until something else would pop up and I would have to search again… Over reaction to any pain or health issue, as this seems to be the thing I have fought to gain control over - a long story but from reading your book I 'see' so much and understand so many instances in my life about me long before I became frightened of myself.

Now, I feel I understand a lot more than I ever have - I have for years tried to follow Claire Weekes’ method, but although I accepted the concept of 'acceptance', I was stuck in controlling the acceptance, through reading the book and lurching through life from one fear to the next.

Since coming across Paul's site my understanding has grown and with the help of your book my deeper understanding is coming. The hardest thing I find (this is probably the same for many) is that although I am starting to realise that 'self belief' is the answer - how do you actually stop yourself going over the edge into forced reassurance. I can understand that now, once my fears come in, because 'I feel ‘awful' about one symptom or another - can be head pain, mouth biting or a number of things - how do I not react… by consciously telling myself that it will all be ok? I know I must not 'search' for answers, but not quite grasping the cut off, does this happen automatically? In other words, do we let the negatives have their say until they get fed up? Sorry to sound as if I'm not getting it - I am, but somehow I am missing 'the fine line'.

The book is enlightening, and I thank you for taking the time to put this together, such a frightening condition and yet when people like yourself and Paul are prepared to tackle this and share it - you are helping so many people. Thank you  

On Mon 15/09/08 7:05 PM , Kay sent: Hi Will, been having a rough time with the anxiety at the minute. Things are starting to clear though, and in a way its been a good setback as its shown me even when i do panic nothing bad ever happens. When you panicked did u ever confuse the panic urge with a feeling u may lose control, now usually this causes me to panic fight etc... but this lately i have simply given my body the chance to lose control... but it never does!  Am i right in thinking in my fight to gain control i have confused my body into thinking i will lose control if i dont fight.. which is why i feel the panic urge? In case you dont understand what i mean il give u an example.  Say i had a one of thought that my friend was looking a bit on the chubby side(primary), then i over reacted to this thought (secondary)... leading to me to feel tremendous guilt and obsessing over the thought.  Then i start to panic and confuse my panic urge with an urge to call her fat etc...(fear of losing control).  Can you relate to this??  This isn't actually one of my thoughts, but iv had similar situations due to me over reacting in the past. I suppose im asking this to clarify if these situations are caused by obsessive panic? How strange that all my suffering is self inflicted, no wonder people never recover on tablets or therapy etc... i guess deep down we can only help ourselves- whiles been pointed in the right direction.  Thanks Kay

Hi Kay - yes you know it exactly - the fear of losing control is the 'reason' we over analyse/obsess or run/take repetitive comfort - this is all part of the intense secondary fight, or flight - now the main thing is here that you understand this - which you do. Many people are documented all over the place for a) having a negative/uncomfortable thought and then b) thinking they have to follow it through when they become destructive i.e. that terrible feeling you have to harm yourself or others spurred on by that spike. As you know, I explained this in the book, where I thought I would have to 'run' to the other side of the University campus to get away from my girlfriend, such was the extent to which I had pushed myself down the secondary negative route, further intensifying my original, but OK intense thought about her...that I was unsure whether she really cared about me.

So, what you also say is "you didn't actually lose control'' when you chose not to panic and gave your body the chance. Hopefully, by now, you will also understand that the reason you didn't lose control was that by the time you felt ready to panic fight - you had actually, already come out of that now 'just' historic thought. So, if we choose to enter the further intensified secondary fight or flight - it is after the event anyway and when we have already gained that subconscious control, via our cut-offs. This is important, as its' amazing how people really are crushed by this illness - and believe me, there are so many  even high profile people out there, who have needed this help - but who just show that this can affect any of us - it's a silent disease. 'The Final Stage' just shows how you can get to the stage where you understand you are 'at' awareness point anyway when you cut-off/spike and 'can' make an 'awareness' choice whether to panic or take the easier route to calm back to your momentary and natural flow. Cheers. Will

On Tue 2/9/08 1:49 PM , Kay sent: Thanks Will!  I knew i was right, i guess i was just looking for confirmation again!  Even though i have felt crap this past week, Im glad i went through what i did... as it was the first proper chance i observed and not controlled... and i got confidence knowing that nothing bad ever really happens. I think each time i come through that, the more confidence i will have. Would u say your illness was 'pure O'... ? I dont know if you have heard of that but its supposedly OCD without any external compulsion....that's what i class myself as. Either way i think we all suffer the same mental 'battle' with this illnesss...... but the compulsions of OCD are habits of control.  It really does seem mad from the outside, but when you look at it that way it really is just a lack of understanding. I used to wonder how people with OCD cant stop compulsions such as excessive hand washing.... but its quite sane really - as through lack of understanding they felt it gave them control (ref MORD pt 4 'Holding on to/intensifying positives unnecessarily')... not a hard habit to fall into if you are confused and desperate. Thanks for your help! Kay

On Thu 18/09/08 12:47 AM , sent: Thanks Kay - yes I would agree that mine was very internalised thinking based. However, my concept came to me as making so much sense that many others have applied it - whether we internalise or externalise - it is just a different type of reaction, but still a conscious and forced 'total' reaction nevertheless. Thanks Will

On Fri 19/09/08 2:35 PM , Kay sent: Hi Will Yes totally agree, it doesn't matter what the reaction is- theyre all habits formed to gain control.... and all unnecessary!  I do psychology at college - some of the theories i disagree with, but one which is scientifically proven really supports your book. It says there are two types of memory, short term and long term.... short term ones last up to 30 seconds and long term ones can be stored for a life time.... depending on how you respond to thoughts etc.  So when a person is in flow, their short term memory filters out all the unnecessary information.... and the long term memory remembers all the important stuff.   So all our secondary thinking is sending thoughts straight to the long term memory and keeping them fresh in our mind as we place a false importance on them!  So everyone's brain is capable of filtering out the negatives if we stop trying to intervene and over-control!   

I have been doing really well these past 4 days.... i have managed to stay flowing and didn't follow that panic urge and now it is subsiding. I have even had a couple of days with no panic urge at all!  Its like now i know this works, i don't really feel the need to control - so i don't feel the need to force myself to think the negatives in order to get control (not that i did get control through secondary thinking!). I keep getting positive thoughts coming to me more too, like how silly i was getting myself worked up before, and thoughts of been 100% sure i will recover!  Once I isolated the over reaction the rest fell into place! Thanks for your help Will, I will keep you posted on my recovery Kay

On Tue 12/08/08 4:07 PM, "Harrison E" sent: Hi Will, I have been reading your book and can't thank you enough for putting me on the right path. You've given me understanding when no-one else could. I am amazed how different I feel - just hope in time, I will live my life without that temptation to react, as I know you say it is now out of your system completely - you're in automatic flow, as you put it. So interesting to see where you're at - and how that can inspire us all. If ever I can help you/your cause in any way, then please don't hesitate to ask. Thanks again!  Harrison  

As stated, when we find some form of control/comfort (pt 4 MORD) for our panic scramble (pt 3 MORD - following negative thoughts) we enter the holding on protection zone – our desperate safe haven for our predicament. However, this protection zone soon becomes repetitive, as we are, again, intensely trying too hard to control/avoid a negative even with a positive that’s already passed – in turn, making a bigger issue of that momentary situation we felt uncomfortable with. Just like the negatives, we don't accept any incoming positive thoughts as momentary and race into negativity by trying too hard to hold on to these. We consciously and tensely try to deliberately force it to happen - post cut-off and as part of our mind racing reactive panic. 

As stated, this happened to me in the past when I tried to answer my stress with the word relax, for example. I would end up constantly and forcibly saying this in my head, as I was trying to intensely force it to happen post any spike (see also Ch 4 'Re-habituation'). This was all part the my mind race of conscious panic. Do you think I actually managed to relax! Therefore, our raging panic is not only confined to our response to the negatives, but also the forced and intense complete-seeking over-control of the positives - it's all post-spike tensing up away from our natural calm flow. 

..Ref some of 'The Mind Works' Advice Column sufferers (over-controllers first!)  

“it was like a deliberate act. I was always (and I now realise ‘consciously’) ‘telling’ myself how to cope in my head – I realise now that I didn’t need to do this, as any thought that I was trying to consciously control – had actually just gone – so subtle, but I am really starting to understand this and the tension has gone. I found, especially when things really 'meant' something to me, my temptation was at its' greatest” 

..“I understand my repetitive behaviour now, as I was always trying to consciously force the positives, almost like a one-stop pigeon hole for every negative situation” 

“I’d be consciously thinking about/questioning/analysing everything I was doing – it was almost like a running commentary inside my head, no wonder I felt like I was living in a bubble” 

"Hi Will, Thanks for replying, that has helped a lot as i worried about the 'false urge' the panic caused when i investigated and obsessed over thoughts. I am learning every day to accept myself and my thoughts, i think a lot of anxiety and obsessive thoughts are caused by the illness been brushed under the carpet. Nobody really feels like its acceptable to think or feel this way, when clearly it is. There are no limits to what our mind can come up with, i once read somewhere that film and script writers are a great example of this. They think and create stories about murder etc.. so these thoughts are perfectly acceptable. Anxiety sufferers simply overstep the line of investigating these thoughts and not having the confidence to trust themselves. I know now that anxiety will not dominate my life anymore, this specific query was the last thing keeping me in the vicious cycle. Thankyou for confirming this for me :)" 

If you would like to add these emails to any of your future journals or books then feel free to do so. The issue i asked about is rarely talked about as people feel they are going mad, which is really sad as a lot of suffering can be avoided through knowledge. Thanks again Candie 

Hi Will,..I have been reading your book again today, the first time i read it i wasn't aware i was forcing myself back into thoughts... so i didn't understand how my thoughts were secondary.  When i read what you are saying in your book it is like i could of wrote some of the examples myself.  I have felt a lot of relief today knowing there is no need to fight something that has already been dealt with... so i have been able to stop myself from fighting back into these thoughts. 

I have only suffered for a year because of this habit, so i am optimistic that it shouldn't take me too long to get the hang of things - although i do have patience! Only for the past 5 months have i been a fighter, before this i was a flighter and i must say it is far worse being a fighter... Thanks D  

“I felt compelled to run from the situation, as this seemed the right thing to ‘do’ – as you so rightly say. What I see now is that I have to understand the processes at work. I was over-reacting – even though I thought I had to – I realise I don’t. I now stay where I am and move on with the conversation” 

 “The knowledge not to interfere with what’s been and gone – Will....and I don’t need to throw up any more is something I’ll take…..”(see also ‘Promoting the subconscious habit’ -  ‘Re-Habituation’ Ch 6).

"Half way through my food, my thoughts turned "I can't do this", "I can't finish this sandwich", "I am going to be sick", "people will laugh at me", "people will think I'm weird", "this old school person will have to finish the sandwich for me". All these thoughts in a nano second (or three). But then my natural cut-offs kicked in, I said "I can do this", "don't fight (or flight from) the panic" and slowly I carried on eating, talked to friends and listened. Before I knew it I had eaten it all........ I so much see how relying on medication or reviewing thought processes were not giving me the confidence that I can recover with my natural ability -- we all can do this (ref Rob's 'Flighter' Case Study - Ch 5)" 


***If this site/book has interested/helped you, then please feel free to feedback.

And remember (some primary advice!) - it also helps to take care of yourself physically to get yourself right mentally i.e. exercise, better diet etc, more sleep (if you can) and talk to a trusted source as a problem shared IS a problem halved - and will only help you realise you are NOT odd. Will

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