After going to school in Denver for College Living Experience, which was a program for people with Asperger's and autism and related issues, to learn how to navigate life successfully in college, I moved to Seattle to start Asperger Experts. And I thought everything was going to go great.
And then I have massive panic attacks every night. Like, every night as the sun would go down, I would send myself into a massive, full-blown, cataclysmic, "I could die at any moment" panic attack. And it was miserable.
I'm talking cataclysmic-level destruction at any moment. And I thought I was going to literally die. Now rationally, that's utterly absurd, but that's the level of panic attack that I was at. It was clouding my vision and my judgment so much, that I remember I was on a plane once, and I thought I was going to fall through the airplane. Like the laws of physics were going to stop applying, I was going to fall through with the fabric, through the underbody of the plane, and out. And that's completely not how physics work. But that's the level of panic attack and irrational fear that I had.
I would always fight with myself, too, trying to push down the anxiety, trying to manipulate the anxiety, trying to change the anxiety. Trying to say I shouldn't be this way, and trying to fix it in any and every way imaginable. It was like, I know all the personal development techniques. I should be able to get rid of my anxiety, because anxiety is the enemy, and I will crush the enemy!
And so I would push it down. I'd resist it. I'd fight it. I'd try to manipulate it and change it. And nothing worked.
And then one day, I was going to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 with some friends in theaters. And I remember about halfway through the movie, I was fighting with myself and saying, I should have anxiety. I shouldn't. I'm going to fight it. I'm not. Blah, blah, blah.
And at a certain point, I was just like, I'm done. It's over. I've decided. I'm no longer going to fight this. If it takes me over, it takes me over. So be it. But I'm done fighting. And then in that moment, it stopped.
So here's what I learned from that night. Your body has a natural, inbuilt trauma resolution mechanism. For any sort of stress, discomfort, anxiety, depression, trauma, PTSD, you name it, anything like that? Your body has an inbuilt self-regulation mechanism to get rid of all of that stuff and bring you back to a state of homeostasis, bring you back to a state of regulation-- if you let it happen.
So imagine you're watching cars go by. And you say, OK, there's a car. There's a car. You're on the side of the street. There's a car. There's a car.
Oh, there's a really, really ugly car! No, I don't want to deal with that at all. So you get in the middle of the street. Stop! I don't want to see you anymore! But now, all you've done is now you're staring the car down, and you are going to continue to see it until you get out of the way and let it continue on its way, so that it gets out of your field of view.
It's the same thing that happens when you have any uncomfortable feeling. The reason why I was having so many panic attacks is because when my body would try to get rid of the panicky feeling and resolve the anxiety, I would have to feel it, and then I would go, no, I don't want that anymore! But by saying, stop! I don't want to see you! I was preventing it from actually getting out of my way and letting me move on.
To put it another way, just be. Allow. Be the lightning rod and let it go through one side and out the other. Don't resist. Just observe your feelings. Let it happen.
The more that you do that, the more you just sort of let it be and let your body handle it, and you just observe, the better it goes. Because then your body knows what to do. And it may shake, and it may do its thing, but you just observe and you go along for the ride.
I got so scared with the panic attacks and anxiety because I thought if I just allowed it, it would never end. Oh, unless I do something about it, it's just going to continue forever. And that's just simply not the truth. It continued for about 30 seconds, and then it stopped for good.
So for me, this has profound implications. All you need to do is be with it. All you need to do is just sit there and do nothing in that loving, specific kind of way. Not the apathetic, just, oh, I'm just gonna let it happen. But in, like, a-- hold yourself. Soothe yourself. Treat yourself right. Be with that.
And your body will actually resolve its own uncomfortable feelings and traumas. You don't need to control it. You don't need to fix it. You don't need to do anything, except be with that.
Now, sometimes if you have trouble being with that, you may want somebody to get help, and somebody to help you go through that process, like a somatic experiencing practitioner, or just a coach, or somebody that can hold space for you. But all you're doing, then, is having somebody else help you be with that.
So right now, let's try 30 seconds of being with that. What I want you to do is just notice whatever in your body naturally brings your attention to it. For me, right now it's my lower back. So I'm just going to notice my lower back. I can encourage you to do the same thing. Just notice what you're feeling.
And don't try and change it at all. Don't try to do anything. Don't try to manipulate it, or control it, or mess with it at all. Just simply observe it and give it space. And what you'll notice is that as you observe it and give it space, it may start to change a little bit. And just observe that, and notice that, too.
So what happens is as you notice what you're noticing, and you just simply observe and let it happen, for me, that pain in my lower back now is actually pretty much mostly gone. And so things shift and change and move on their own, and you don't actually need to do much. All you need to do is be with that.
So in short, in order to not feel anxious, you need to feel anxious. In other words, if you are feeling anxious, you feel the anxiety, you observe it, you let it go through your system-- you don't try and manipulate or control or force or coerce or change at all-- and you just be with that. If you'd like to learn more about being with that, go to AspergerExperts.com/be.