Back when I was a kid, I had to go to the dentist to have a cavity filled. I was scared. I knew there was a needle involved—and I was petrified of needles. I mean really petrified, as in, run away petrified, and catch me if you can petrified.
I was petrified of the whole scene. But of course, the dentist says the needle won’t hurt. They all say the same thing. “It’s just pressure,” they always say. “This won’t hurt.” But I knew this was a lie. It’s a needle. Needles hurt.
The dentists pinched my cheek when the needle went in. He didn’t squeeze hard. He just squeezed enough to create a distraction. He shook my cheek until the Novocain did its trick. I remember thinking the pain wasn’t so bad because I was focused on my pinched cheek. Once the Novocain took hold, then I really didn’t feel anything. Suddenly, I wasn’t so afraid anymore.
In all honesty, I was never good at the doctor’s office. I was never good with shots.
From what I recall, they would have to catch me or hold me down. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been petrified of needles. I suppose this was a result of hospitalized memories from my younger years. I think I may have been two the first time I spent a significant amount of time in the hospital.
Needles hurt. I get that. But the trauma that lasts is worse than the pain from the needle itself. This is in the mind.
The anticipation can be worse than the pain. We work ourselves up. Our thoughts travel along the same pathway. We anticipate the pain and predict the feelings. We create an expectation that this time will always be like the last time. We develop fears which can be debilitating.
There are times when our anticipation creates so much anxiety that we panic. We work ourselves up to the point that we swear the worst is about to happen. And of course the worst is about to happen. It happened once before, right? So then why wouldn’t the worst happen again?
The mind does not always see things in all dimensions. The mind sees things in a repetitive way. The brain does math based on old figures. Like algebra, remember?
The mind is always trying to find the value of X, which is unknown—and I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been very good with math to begin with—let alone, finding the value of the fears of my unknown, which could be infinite (if I allow them to be.)
I think back about the dentist and the dentist chair.
I was afraid, right?
Of course, I was afraid. I was a little kid in a big chair and grown man was coming at me with a needle in his hand and about to jab it in my gums! Why wouldn’t I be afraid?
But what did the dentist do to calm my anxiety?
He created a distraction by pinching my cheek.
He created a sense of replacement by shaking my cheek.
He used the value of a distraction and replacement, which is brilliant, and allowed my brain to focus upon something other than my fears and the needle.
Anxiety is the brain trying to solve an unsolvable equation. The gears in our mind overreact. The spin too fast. Nothing is simple when this happens. Not even 2 + 2 is a simple question.
Everything is complicated. The receptors in our mind are overreacting. There is a chemical reaction that happens because of this. It’s called a panic attack.
Every have one?
I’m sure you have . . .
What did he do?
He created a distraction.
He gave a means of replacement.
Breathe! Breathing helps oxygenate the blood, which soothes the physical symptoms. This is fact, not opinion, by the way.
I have seen this personally and helped assist others in mid-attack and seen the breathing be helpful.
Meanwhile, focusing on the breathing is the distraction. Replacement comes with other steps. A good suggestion is to create a narrative in the mind. Whatever works for you is perfect.
I like to say Breathe in as I inhale through my nose and count to five. Then I say pause, and then say the word exhale, and count down from five, to say pause once more, and then I repeat the process. This works for me.
The mind‘s anxiety needs a distraction. Create this and the mind can focus elsewhere. The replacement solves the mind’s question of need. This helps with common depressive thinking as well because all the mind need’s is a distraction to stop the thinking process.
I know this works because this has helped me through some of the worst attacks. I’ve used this to help my clients. I’ve used this in emergency situations as well.
(This is why people get high, by the way.
To them, this is their only way of distraction and replacement .)
talking with someone that is looking to find their way off of their meds, which
are physically addicting.
I just don’t want to kick, they said
I don’t want to be sick, they told me.
The anticipation is almost worse than the actual withdrawal sometimes, we both agreed.
This is why the medical field has improved the detoxing process. They created a chemical distraction and replacement; however, emotionally, we need to do the same thing. Otherwise, we will become dependent upon a chemical fix, which my client is trying to get away from.
Not saying this is easy.
I’m just saying this can be done by using a means of distraction and replacement. In all honesty, I believe anything can be overcome this way. We just need to learn the best mixture of both: Distraction and replacement.
We just need to find what this means to us . . .