My mom used to pull up to a gas station, windows rolled down, get out and order a fill, then go in while it was filling so she could stock up on stuff that she would otherwise get in a grocery store…all the while I would be quietly sitting in the car waiting for her to return, NOT WEARING MY SEAT BELT EVER (because seat belt laws did not come into effect until MUCH later), and chatting with the gas jockey if he spoke to me (because I was an introvert who was not afraid to interact with others). It wasn’t -30C, or +30C, otherwise she would have taken me inside with her. I was safe. That was back in the mid-late ’60’s. I lived to tell about it and was never given the impression that I could not trust strangers because EVERYONE IS A STRANGER TILL YOU GET TO KNOW THEM. As far as I know I was never in any danger….unless my mom really wasn’t my mom but just some lady that drove away with me in the car….but I have never seen my baby photo on any milk cartons, so I am pretty darn sure that didn’t happen. Now fast forward to the mid ’90’s when I became a dad. EVERY PERSON IN THE MALL WHO EVER HAD THE AUDACITY TO LAY EYES ON MY KIDS PUT THEIR OWN LIVES AT RISK. Oh, how the pendulum swings! Fatherhood brought out in me the protector and guardian BIG time. I didn’t leave my kid in a car until they were…14 or 15?? They were always buckled in. I always told them it was completely ok to talk to strangers because EVERYONE IS A STRANGER UNTIL WE GET TO KNOW THEM. And some, like their dad, are stranger than others. They are very well aware of safety issues that are actual safety issues. My eldest could be an occupational health and safety inspector if he ever chose to be. My youngest can tell you your personal history within 10 seconds of meeting you. They totally rock. So ya, I think I would be one who would wait around and see before instantly dialing 9-1-1. After all, you do have to give the benefit of the doubt now and then.
But we, as humans in an ever-changing world that is all at our fingertips instantly, have developed a very high strung Panic Button. I don’t think that this is a healthy state. It puts us into hyperalert on an ongoing basis, even if it is in just an undercurrent of our psyche. The thing is that this wears a person down over time much faster than many other things might. Most of this, however, is linked to our need to control our environment (which no one can really do for any length of time) and our narcissistic need to have validation through social media. While on the one hand people will check to see how many “likes” they got on a post, they will also, on the other hand, be berrated with disasterous news about one missing child after another or one homomesiac commiting yet another hate crime or yet another high school shooting. The mind can only handle so much of this sort of stimulus befor something begins to short circuit. And short circuit it will!
So here are some suggestions to help ease out of this pattern:
- Spend time without your cell phone. When you arrive home, turn off at lesat the notifications for texts and media. Leave the ringer on if you must, but if you can set a timer on your stove for an hour and just turn your phone off, you will notice that after a 2 week period of daily practice you will become much more calm.
- Dedicate only coffee breaks for checking social media. This way you are not over stimulating yourself. There is really nothing that important on there, so you will not be missing very much and it will stay on there till the coffee break, so you will always catch up later.
- Spend your lunch and dinner times with someone who likes conversation. Again, no phones. Turn them off or down and just be with that person. Your friendship/relationship will improve by leaps and bounds.
- Begin your day with 20 minutes of total silence. Just breathe and meditate. Set your intention for the day. THEN turn on your cell phone.
- Do NOT have your cell phone on through the night. Charge it, yes, but turn it ALL THE WAY off while you sleep. Your sleep will improve drastically over the next week. The amount of REST you get while sleeping will increase exponentially.
- Know that you are safe, even without your cell phone or other devices. And know that you are safe even if you are the only one in the building. So often people rely on their devices to feel safe. This is nonsense. You are either safe or you are not, regardless of whether or not you have access to any devices. Get comfortable in your own skin and with your own thoughts. You don’t need social media to be spoon feeding you how to feel or think or what to be offended at.
- Chill out if someone doesn’t return your text immediately. They are not likely snubbing you. They are likely watching t.v., or meditating, or actually having sex, or eating, or otherwise preoccupied. It has nothing to do with YOU.
- Read an actual BOOK. It is much more fulfilling that scrolling through “articles” and news that may or may not be accurate.
There are likely a million other ideas that will help with this, but I find that to list them is a challenge because my mind goes blank. So I might add to these over time. So you, the reader, may want to check in on this post from time to time to see if I have added some other good ideas.
The other thing that can often be a factor in the development of a Panic Button within oneself is the existence of past trauma. It does not matter what form of trauma or to what intensity that trauma was developed. Each person integrates traumatic experiences differently. Each person can develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from different things and with different twists to the theme. Nonetheless, those suffering from it will have certain things that cause the inner Panic Button to get pushed, and then their responses to what is going on around them will be disproportionate to what is actually happening. The triggers can vary tremendously, so there is no predictability as to what it will be that will set a person off. Only the person themselves will be able to see what the trigger was, and sometimes only with the help of a skilled counsellor. But once those triggers are identified, together the person and the counsellor can come up with ideas for how to cope, how to lessen and, eventually, how to heal from the PTSD aspect of the Panic Button. If you are experiencing PTSD I encourage you to seek the assistance of a counsellor skilled in helping those with this disorder. Some of the above suggestions may come into play, yes, but they will, with PTSD, only be skimming the surface of what is needed.