Don't Panic

Okay, this Focus Area is a bit self-explanatory.  In an emergency or in deep fear, it can be super helpful not to panic.

Happens to all of us, though.  In an emergency, we may default to a fight, flight, or freeze response… in large part because we evolved that way to survive.  Those things are not always helpful in the modern world – although there are definitely times they are.  If your gut says to fight, flight, or freeze, you can check in with yourself in the moment in time and see what feels right.  Remembering to not panic might help to think more clearly in those split seconds.

Remembering to not panic is a key, here, because panic is super easy in many situations.  Almost by definition, though, it rarely helps. 

To navigate disruption, we need to be able to think clearly.  Not panicking, breathing, taking a moment – these are all things that can help us when the unexpected happens.  Or, when fear strikes.

There is a science fiction / comedy book series by Douglas Adams that starts with the book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” which is about exactly that:  a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  The fictional Guide has, per the story, become wildly popular in part because “it has the words DON’T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.”  I read these books as a kid, and the "DON'T PANIC" advice has been useful since.

Coronavirus

And now we're in a pandemic. 

It's a disruption all right; exactly what this website was built for.  We're all about seeing risk, finding or using tools to address it; and otherwise navigating disruption.  Finding our way through.

A ubiquitous thing like a pandemic is vastly different than the kind of disruptions we've gotten used to - from car accidents to cancer to hurricanes to terrorist attacks.  Nobody gets away from a ubiquitous, persistent, widespread infectious disease - even those with means and money.  The effects go far and wide.

With that - there will be trauma.  There is trauma now.  There will be more.  It's an an enormous, worldwide collective trauma.  It's shared trauma in cities and families.  It's shared trauma for those working in critical jobs.  The lists go on and on and on and on and on.

We can perhaps mitigate, lessen, or help with some of that by not panicking (perhaps, because there's no guarantee, and it won't work for everyone). 

We make better decisions when we're not panicked - which can help us get through this.  Better, calmer, more informed, more strategic decision-making is one of the hugest reasons not to panic.  Good decisions in this time will come from a place of grounding, cool thinking, strategic and tactical risk management, science, and public health practices and principles.

Bad decisions make things worse - as we see every day in the US.  The bad decisions are caused by many factors, but panic is certainly one of them.

It is important to recognize that sometimes panic just happens.  It's especially important to remember that in a widespread, prolonged crisis like this one.

Panic is inevitable.  Handling it when it happens (and coming down from it sooner than we might have) are going to be critical tools.  Figuring out how to do that is pretty much what we do here - countering fear- so check into coaching or, well, anything else on this website if you need more tools.  We can come out of panic sometimes; especially when we recognize that we are panicking.  There's a lot more to it, but again, digging in to all of that is what we do here.

Recognizing that others will have a panic response and may be in the trauma fight, flight, or freeze reaction can be helpful - and may actually be critical - as this pandemic unfolds.  Just because you might get better at dealing with your own panic doesn't mean that you can talk people out of theirs.  The sphere of influence tool can help a bit with that, as can recognizing that it happens - and that when it does, it can do damage.  People panicking - sometimes at scale - is part of why this coronavirus situation will continue to intensify, with all kinds of unforeseen circumstances.

Breathe.  There are ways through. 

It's going to be bad.  We know tragedy is here and coming.  We know we're not all going to make it.  We know all of that.  Still:  we can find ways through.

Breathe more.  Work from your anchor point; find some grounding.

For more resources on countering fear and not panicking, check out the other focus areas for more ways through, the counterfear tools in the blog, the whole counterfear toolbox, or like anything else on the entire counterfear website.

This is what we do.

For a kind of funny story on not panicking, check out this counterfear tool in the blog story on Not Panicking... When You're the Fire Department.  More "Don't Panic" blog posts and resources below.

Be safe.  Love people.  Try not to get dead.  We can all help pull each other forward.

don't panic
10 Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide

From the site:  "The good news is, all over the country people are fighting hate, standing up to promote tolerance and inclusion.  More often than not, when hate flares up, good people rise up against it — often in greater numbers and with stronger voices.   This guide sets out 10 principles for fighting hate in your community."

BOOK: Depletion and Abundance, by Sharon Astyk

"Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Homefront - or, One Woman's Solutions to Finding Abundance for Your Family while Coming to Terms with Peak Oil, Climate Change, and Hard Times," by Sharon Astyk.  A Sharon Astyk blog is here.  Check out this book review from homestead.org.nnHere is an excerpt from another review at The Blogging Bookworm, "Astyk's book is a reminder of the power of individuals to make a difference in the world during times of crisis. In New Orleans in 2005, it was Hurricane Katrina. Now we face... climate chaos, war, and energy depletion... People are struggling to hold on to their homes, to pay for their groceries, to know what to do next...  If you are like me, this book will make you rethink your assumptions about population, about the separation of public and private, about the global impact of creating local economies. As Green Bean said in her recent review, Depletion and Abundance is both troubling and reassuring. It will make you have moments of panic and it will also make you commit to creating a just and meaningful life."  The Blogging Bookworm review author says "I finished the book with a feeling not only of hope, but also with a feeling of radical responsibility."

BOOK: Rising Strong, by Brene Brown

"Rising Strong:  The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution." by Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW.  Brene Brown also has a number of classic videos and TED talks that will be available on The Counterfear Toolbox videos page (coming soon) or on the Google.

BOOK: The Big Pivot, by Andrew S. Winston

"The Big Pivot:  Radically Practical Strategies for a Hotter, Scarcer, and More Open World," by Andrew S. Winston.  See video also at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxYKO7oICiw.

BOOK: The Great Disruption, by Paul Gilding

"The Great Disruption:  Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World," by Paul Gilding.  This is a Counterfear Anchorpoint.  From the author's website:  "It’s time to stop just worrying about climate change, says Paul Gilding.  We need instead to brace for impact because global crisis is no longer avoidable.  This Great Disruption started in 2008, with spiking food and oil prices and dramatic ecological changes, such as the melting ice caps.  It is not simply about fossil fuels and carbon footprints.  We have come to the end of Economic Growth, Version 1.0, a world economy based on consumption and waste, where we lived beyond the means of our planet’s ecosystems and resources.  The Great Disruption offers a stark and unflinching look at the challenge humanity faces-yet also a deeply optimistic message.  The coming decades will see loss, suffering, and conflict as our planetary overdraft is paid; however, they will also bring out the best humanity can offer:  compassion, innovation, resilience, and adaptability."

Heroic Improv

"We all have a hero inside of us. When a catastrophe strikes, our heroes are called upon. In the heroic improvisation practice, we practice how to be ready to put on our proverbial capes and fly. Disaster preparation training might not like sound fun... knowing how to act heroically with others is the key. What determines success when catastrophe strikes is our ability to listen, trust and act together... Potential danger requires us to know the plan of action, and chaos requires us to improvise responses to execute it. The heroic improvisation workshop puts us in a chaotic situation and gives us the felt-sense of moving into action together in a high stakes situation."

Holding Space - What it Means

Excellent resource to look at how we can "hold space" for people and the world. 

From the article, "What does it mean to hold space for someone else? It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control."

MUSIC: Everything is Awesome - from The Lego Movie

Theme song from The Lego Movie.  Intro lyrics from Google Play:  "Everything is awesome / Everything is cool when you're part of a team / Everything is awesome when we're living our dream / Everything is better when we stick together / Side by side, you and I gonna win forever, let's party forever / We're the same, I'm like you, you're like me, we're all working in harmony..."

MUSIC: Feel So Close - Calvin Harris

"Feel so close" - Calvin Harris.  "I feel so close to you right now."  If you are looking for a video of community and neighbors and fun and people taking care of each other, this is hard to beat.  Fantastic.  I learned of this video when I friend I was rooming with at an amazing convention woke up with the lyrics in her head from a dream.  We Googled it, and this came up.  We should have expected nothing less.

MUSIC: I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

"Tubthumping," by Chumbawamba.  It's no secret that this song is about drinking, but the chorus is fantastic for thinking resilience:  "I get knocked down... but I get up again... you are never gonna keep me down...."

MUSIC: I'm Going Through Changes

"Changes" Lyric Video, by Longhorne Slim & The Law.

MUSIC: My List - Toby Keith

"Start livin', that's the next thing on my list..."

MUSIC: State of Mind - Clint Black

State of Mind song, by Clint Black.  Lyrics here.  Excerpt:  "It can make a right from a wrong, it can make you fall in love, It can get you singin' along, Chase the clouds away and make the sun shine above.  A melody can bring back a memory, Take you to another place in time, Completely change your state of mind."

See Something Say Something - Washington Post

Excellent (and short) Washington Post article "If You See Something, Make Sure It’s Actually Something Before You Call It Terrorism."  The story references the US Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) "See Something Say Something" campaign, and part of what that is really about.  It isn't about calling in anyone who is different than you (as I mention in this blog), but about rooting out real extremism.

An excerpt:  "Recruitment by radicals, violent ideas, criminal acts - those are real somethings.  Wearing a hijab, speaking or writing Arabic, or being Muslims is simply being American. And it’s time we learn the difference."

#seesomethingsaysomething

Spontaneous Volunteer Leads At Hurricane Shelter

"An Unlikely Hurricane Hero Takes Over Chaotic Texas Storm Shelter."  News story about a man with no background or training who spontaneously led operations at a shelter during Hurricane Harvey in Texas.  Excellent example of real-life Heroic Improv.  As a fire chief friend says, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way."  Anyone can lead.

VIDEO: The Big Pivot, based on book by same name

Video on "The Big Pivot - Whiteboard Animation," 3:12 min.  Based on book by the same name, by Andrew Winston:  http://www.andrewwinston.com/books/.

VIDEO: The Edge of Disaster, with Stephen Flynn

Excellent video summary of the book, posted 3/2011: "Author and leading security expert Stephen Flynn discusses The Edge of Disaster Rebuilding a Resilient Nation with Patricia Gras on a HoustonPBS the Connection Special. Are we vulnerable to disaster, terrorism or acts of God? Is America living on borrowed time? His book is a wake up call demanding that we shake off our denial and sense of helplessness and start preparing immediately for a safer future."  See Counterfear Toolbox book resource link for book reviews.