Friday, October 18, 2013

Pressing the PANIC Button

Have you ever wondered whether or not you would press it? If you were seized with panic, and you saw one of these, what would you do? If you did push it, what might happen? What sort of response would you expect?

Relieved to Wake Up, this morning, I opened my eyes from a dream, where I'd been gripped by a sense of panic (and I don't recall any reason for it). Along with the powerful effect of this emotion--in my dream--I'd been staring at a Panic Button on the wall. 

I was standing there deliberating over whether, or not, to go ahead and push the button. I was trying to gauge the extent of panic I felt; wondering if it was actually severe enough to set off this alarm? But I couldn't make up my mind what to do. That's when I woke up. 

Immediately, I went online to find the exact button, that I'd seen in my dream. Row after row, of different panic alarms were featured. I asked my husband which one he liked best. 

"I don't like any of those because they don't look like they would work." he said, eliminating a series of rows with the sweep of his finger, "I'll take this one." He finally said, stopping at the one that's illustrated, above. I love his pragmatism. It never occurred to me that it might not work!

I am fascinated by the difference in our perspective: I wondered if I should actually push the button at all, and he wondered if it would work when he did push it. Neither of us said anything at all about WHAT we expected to happen, IF we did set off the alarm. But there was an underlying presumption that if it worked, then some sort of response would follow.

The most interesting thing about my dream, however, is what ended it. It was my serious deliberation about actually pushing that panic button, which jolted me AWAKE. When we ask for help, it doesn't really matter what form our 'asking' takes. Our plea is heard because we asked. On the verge of non-specific panic, I was rescued from dreamland. 

Isn't it similar in waking life? Whenever we avoid panic, or anxiety, or pain, it festers. As soon as we face it and begin to pay serious attention (however this might manifest), the pattern begins to shift. The tightly wound fist in our chest begins to loosen and the fingers begin to relax and open. This allows the issue, itself, to breathe, and our feelings can gradually expand into the space that is created. Whether 'the issue' is visible or invisible, infusing space into any dilemma allows perspective to expand. It 'clears' the air.

The panic button offers us a way to officially acknowledge--and validate--the seriousness of our circumstance, or impulse. Contraction can only have power over us if there is no way for the tightly held energy to relax and release. It does not matter whether the perception of danger is real or not. The importance lies in our response. 

Opening to what's terrifying us, in the first place, is the starting point. Peeking behind the veil of our panic is the only way to do this. Our sense of curiosity may be utterly stifled by our terror. This can make it seem that we are powerless with no way out. When we feel helpless to take steps on our own, then naturally we look outward for assistance. 

A hand held out to take hold of ours, in return, can offer permission to explore even the most paralyzing fear imaginable. That's why Panic Buttons exist. They simply take a more human form, when we turn to each other--being there to care, to reach out, and to connect.

Perhaps its not about how the button looks, OR 'if the button works'. Maybe the very idea of a panic button, is simply a way to give ourselves permission to NEED something. Or someone. And to admit this is to press the invisible button with the force of our yearning...

Such permission is always just a push of the 'button' away!

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