Having worked with a variety of people who have panic attacks on a regular basis, I have found that a large number of them also are outgoing, happy–go–lucky individuals at other times during their day-to-day life. Many of them are the “clown” or the entertainer when in a social setting, or work in sales for example. For many of them, there are very few people around them who are aware of their panic attacks and would never suspect a thing because they just do not seem to be the “sort of person” to suffer from such a problem.
Many different techniques can be used to help those who suffer from panic attacks, and some therapies work better on some people than others. Personally, as a therapist, I find EFT, Hypnosis and some NLP techniques such as anchoring are usually helpful to know, as it is likely that one of these skills will be suitable for the client. However, in the situation described above, where the person has this dichotomous character (“sometimes I feel very calm and extroverted, other times I feel blind panic”) it is worth exploring the NLP technique known as a parts integration.
A “parts problem” occurs when there is a significant emotional event that occurs or a series of mild emotional events that occur in which a client has failed to enforce a boundary. What is meant by boundary enforcement is context dependent, sometimes we fail to say “no, I don’t want to…” and do something against our will. Sometimes we do not or are not able to enforce physical boundaries. Sometimes our boundaries are violated because we are too young, or too trusting to be able to speak up and say what we really want or feel.
Imagine that all of the negative emotion related to that memory is stored in your system. But rather than having those negative feelings floating all over your nervous system, your body houses them all together within a boundary, (in the same way that it might do with the poison from a cyst or blister for example). The boundary with the negative emotion inside is called a part, and it is apart from the rest of the nervous system.
Whenever the nervous system “gets word from the outside” by seeing, hearing, feeling, recalling (and to a certain degree even tasting or smelling) some kind of trigger that relates to that part’s existence; the part springs into action. This will have the effect of the person feeling all of the emotions, experiencing all of the behaviour and reacting with all of the characteristics associated with that part’s existence without regard for the “normal” behaviour and character of that person.
Let’s say for example that the behaviour associated with that part is “blind panic.” It would go some way to explain the incongruence that the person who is usually confident experiences, “sometimes I’m really confident, sometimes I’m panicking about something insignificant…”
A parts integration works by establishing the highest intentions of both parts (the panic part and the confident part). The highest intentions are almost always the same as each other and are simply using different behaviours in order to be met. Once they have been established as the same, and positive, the problem part can find new empowering ways of being met and the two parts can be re-integrated. This is a truly magic technique to witness.
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