When I was a kid, my family went camping almost every weekend during the summer. We had such a great time water-skiing, fishing, roasting hot dogs and cooking hamburgers. I always wanted to make the campfires–after all, three years of Boy Scout training and the Fire Merit Badge shouldn’t go to waste.
Meticulously, I would whittle slivers of wood into a small pile. Then, I would place smaller branches on top, slowly building up the pile of wood until it was ready to ignite.
As soon as the little pile of kindling would catch fire, there was still much more work left to do. As the embers began to glow, I would start blowing on the fire. To keep the embers from going out, I’d huff and puff and nearly pass out trying to get that fire started.
I always thought it strange that to feed the fire, you had to blow on it. You would think naturally that blowing on the fire would put it out. Rather, blowing on the fire feeds it with oxygen, causing the flames to burn hotter.
In many ways, panic attacks are the same. By fighting the fear, you are feeding the fire. When you focus your mind and your strength on fighting the panic attack, you are actually releasing more adrenaline causing the fear to rise up even stronger.
Think about it. Before that panic trigger strikes, your mind is off somewhere in thought. Life is peaceful. Then, that first symptom hits you. Your mind naturally concludes, “Oh no, I have to stop the panic from coming!” Now, you have directed your thoughts to one focal point: stop the fear. Your mind is focused on fighting the fear. You are blowing on the fire.
Claire Weekes talks about “floating the thought” in her book Peace for the Nervous Sufferer. When that first thought comes, just let it come. Don’t fight it. It hasn’t killed you in the past. You haven’t gone crazy.
As the Bible says, “It will come to pass.” What that means is: it will come and it will pass. Put no strength into fighting the fear. Let God be your strength.
“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever” (Psalms 73:26).
Prayer: Father, I am weak, but you are strong. The next time the enemy kindles fear within me, allow me to resist the temptation to “feed the fire,” remaining calm as you reduce the blazing fire to ashes.