Brain Science – Episode #13

Brace for turbulence

navigating the unseeable unknown

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In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak being declared a global pandemic and a national emergency here in the United States as well as many other countries around the world, it would be extremely difficult to have a serious conversation here on Brain Science that’s not colored by today’s very serious events. Mireille and Adam discuss the anxiety, fear, and panic that many may be facing. How do we navigate the unseeable unknown? How should we respond to change and the state of the world we are now living in?

Don’t panic. Prepare for change. Be adaptable. Be resilient.

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The plan wasn’t exactly to talk about this global pandemic happening, Coronavirus, and the main headline that’s pretty much on everything right now… We kind of have to at least touch on it, because it colors everything I’m thinking about today.

Change is happening, and it’s just really interesting and surreal to see shows like the Walking dead – and we may not actually have walkers out there kind of thing happening, but we have in many ways our entertainment becoming reality for us. We have movies like Contagion from several years ago, or different things… And all these things that used to just be entertainment, and today for the entire it’s pretty much reality… And it’s just interesting how change is happening and how we all react to this change.

For sure. It’s interesting, because we are apt to use what we do know, to understand what we don’t know… And it’s so easy to make inferences about anything, really, when you don’t have a file for it. I find this especially interesting given our conversation around choices more recently. Choices aren’t just a singular thing, and even if I make one choice, there are all the dominoes that occur thereafter. So it’s like decision dominoes… And we’re living that.

I feel like, to some degree, it’s living like Garmin, when I’m trying to go somewhere, and it’s like “Recalculating… Recalculating… Recalculating…” every time I’m trying to follow on a plan… So that’s what I think is really important as we talk about this, is recognizing the value of being adaptable.

I couldn’t agree more. Being adaptable, being agile, being flexible… These are all synonyms of the same. But when you hear from well-known venture capitalists - which may not be the best advice for the whole world, it just sort of resonated with me; there was this memo shared by Sequoia Capital, who’s a very prestigious venture capitalist firm in technology and startups… And they wrote this memo to their founders and CEOs they represent. They represent like 360 different companies they’ve invested in, so they’ve got a lot of money in the pot, so to speak, and a lot of wisdom from leading and developing startups, and business, and all this good stuff… And they’re calling this thing happening now, the Coronavirus, a Black Swan for the year 2020.

Their essential message boils down to “Brace for turbulence.” And to me, brace for turbulence doesn’t mean panic; it means prepare for change, and potentially (italicize potentially) discomfort as a result of that change, and to be adaptable. You’ve said it time and time again, this word “resilience”. What does that mean for you, this word “resilience”, to be resilient?

[00:04:13.20] Well, resilience doesn’t look like “I know everything that’s coming my way, and that I can then prepare in advance, so that I know where to go, what to do, or what resources to use”, but rather this sense of “I believe that I can handle things when they’re not known, and look to resources, be it people or things, that help me navigate that.” It’s sort of like that song, “I get knocked down, I get up again”…

Oh my gosh, yes…

[laughs] Yeah, but we have to practice a way of getting back up and bouncing back. It doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be changes, or that we even are going to experience fear… But I think we talked about this, and the way in which we process information differently when we’re reacting to a threat. And it doesn’t mean the threat is legitimate, like it’s real…

Like you mentioned with these movies, our brain doesn’t know the difference, whether we sort of imagine it, like I’m visualizing it, or I’m living it live. It still has to run that same neural network… So to be considerate of the way in which maybe you are someone you know is apt to react in this threat, and then you’re going to utilize your own cognitive resources very differently than if you can sort of calm yourself and see more panoramic, as opposed to like the single screenshot of just a moment in time.

Maybe an image for our listeners would be like the picture-in-picture.

Oh yeah, that’s interesting. I’ve never thought about that. PIP, picture-in-picture. That little button you have on your remote. If you still have a remote… Maybe you don’t, because you’ve moved on to an iPhone-based remote, and now it’s just an app away, instead of a remote away. Yeah, picture-in-picture is interesting.

Right, because it allows you to hold both simultaneously. I’m not saying “Don’t be considerate.” That’s sort of foolish, wouldn’t you say? …to be like “Oh, I’m not gonna get sick” or “Oh, I’m impenetrable. That won’t affect me.” That’s not really helpful. But rather, recognizing that there is an active threat to people’s health, and that then you have to look at the specific context of you, your family, or the people around you, be it also workplace - all of the variables - and then what is the wise thing in light of that context, so that I can bounce back as best as I can.

Yeah. Call me crazy, but I…

Yeah, call me crazy, because I’ve really considered watching Contagion as a way to understand how to deal with what might happen, because… I don’t know. Like you said, we don’t have a file for it. I don’t have a file for how to react to a global pandemic. And I don’t wanna say “Hey, everybody panic”, but there’s definitely something real happening here, and there’s a lot of unseeable things, and unknown things… Unseeable meaning like you can’t see a virus. Unlike the entertainment we mentioned, the movie The Walking Dead, for example - you see the walkers, you see the threat coming at you, and there’s always music or something, that sort of intro of this beast or this villain coming to attack you; your enemy, essentially.

But it’s hard to navigate the unseeable and the unknown.

Right. So do you wanna only focus on the unknown, or are there other things you could also lend your attention to that might mitigate or buffer the unknown?

Such as…?

The sunrises and sets…

Right. Air in my lungs, my family is safe - for now… What else?

[00:08:08.28] I really wanna practice this notion of presence. Not like p-r-e-s-e-n-t-s, but p-r-e-s-e-n-c-e…

Spelling on a podcast is difficult. [laughter] You have to laugh at yourself there, right? Like, it’s… Yeah, whatever. It’s fun.

Right? …that I’m practicing this way of being mindful. So I’m living live and going “What other things –” What a lot of people don’t actually realize, for example in panic attacks, is that they are reacting to a perceived threat, and that what happens is then they hold their breath out of this place of “I’m fearful. I need to sort of hide”, because that reptilian system gets activated - fight, flight or freeze. And now I literally can’t breathe, and my brain is sending the signal that there’s a danger, because I’m literally not breathing.

So to some degree, going “How do I practice breath? How do I practice breathing through this unknown?” You know, the sun hasn’t changed - even though we’ve just had daylight savings - it is still gonna rise and set. So there is a rhythm. And that’s really looking at “How do I manage…?” I don’t wanna encourage our listeners like we can control all the things, but this is very much around management. We manage so many things in our lives. So how do I manage my own health? How do I manage my own mind amidst this?…and recognizing it. Because we’ve talked about this part, too - we are incredibly social species. So if I don’t know what this is gonna look like, I’m probably apt to look at other people or things I know to help me make sense of it. So what are my friends saying? Where am I getting my information?

Right. “Are they panicking? I’ll panic because they’re panicking.”

Did they go and buy a bunch of bleach? Should I go buy a bunch of bleach?

You know, these things you’re probably going to buy that you probably didn’t typically buy, because you have fear of the future…

What’s interesting about the breath though, Mireille, is that this morning at 7:30 – my watch never dings at 7:30 in the morning to tell me to breathe, but it said “Adam, one minute of breathing to change your day.” I don’t know if it was ironic or not, but it was like, “One minute of breathing.”

That’s awesome.

Which is so right, because I have to remind myself – and actually, doing this show with you, this has opened my eyes to how important these little, tiny things are… And when I am in a panic mode or catastrophizing, which I have learned that I actually do more often than I thought I did, so… Yeah, I deal with that. But the point is that I have to say “Adam, breathe, because your brain needs oxygen.”

Your brain needs oxygen to be rational. So if you don’t breathe, then you will no be rational, like you want to be in this choice.

Yeah, so being a woman and a mom who has given birth, I have the template of birth, and practicing breathing. It’s interesting going through the process, because providers and prenatal care involves like “What’s your birth plan? What ideally, if you could have it your way, would you want your birth experience to look like?” But the ironic thing is while there’s sort of generalities and saying “This is how it usually goes most of the time, some of the times, some ways…”, that may not be what your experience is. But one of the things that most women are taught is how to breathe through the pain, because we know that birth or labor is an incredibly painful experience. So we don’t do “Well, just avoid it” or “Hold your breath during the entire minute of pain.”

[00:12:20.28] Even in exercise, we’re taught to breathe, and that we want to be mindful of how we can practice breathing through the fear. I think I’ve mentioned this before, my experience with virtual reality, and going – the sensory information I was taking in visually, my visual system was telling me that there is an active real threat, like “I’m gonna walk off this plank out of an elevator and fall to my death.” And yet, I had to practice talking back, like “Come on, Mireille… You know that isn’t real…”

Right, “That’s not real…”

“…you can actually touch the ground beside the wooden plank that your eyes are telling you is real”, and then I could proceed. But unless or until I brought in, again, that other broader picture, my body – it’s not a surprise that my body reacts to the threat, to go like “Hey, this is dangerous! You’re gonna wanna not do that.” So it’s so much of learning how to sort of befriend yourself and work with yourself to recognize what you’re afraid of, and how you could buffer that fear with additional or alternative data.

I had an experience with virtual reality recently…

Yeah, and I was next to my aunt, who reacted very differently than I did, let’s just say… She was a lot of fun. She was screaming, and was yelling… Because we were at the Space Center down in Houston, so our VR experience was basically being an astronaut…

…at the ISS, and you could see the Earth below you, and there was just space. So that’s completely unnatural…

And so because of having these conversations with you and your experience with VR and reminding me through your experience that it’s not real… So I had that sort of person on my shoulder, so to speak, saying “Adam…” If it was me, or you – I don’t know who, but somebody was saying “Adam, this isn’t real. Don’t freak out.” And I wasn’t. But my aunt was definitely freaking out… It was so funny.

But it’s so funny how what you see and how your brain can play tricks on you, that you can believe that it’s real… And her reaction was – like, everyone around was laughing. It was just hilarious that she was screaming that loudly about this VR experience. It was so funny.

Let me give you a hypothetical then. So what if in that experience I took away the context of it being VR, or having any ability to see why or what your aunt was screaming about… Would you be apt to potentially panic or scream?

Well, yeah. If I didn’t think it was just entertainment and I thought it was legit…

No, you’re blind. You have no idea why she’s screaming, and she’s screaming in that way… Would it evoke a response within you?

Well, it did. It still did. Even though I knew, it still did.

Yes. So here is that social part. Here’s somebody who you’re connected with, who’s freaking out, and if you didn’t know that she was watching a VR experience, you might be apt to panic just like she did.

Yeah. Social pressures.

[00:15:47.21] Yeah, we’re social. So looking at who you’re spending time with and what you’re listening to… And everyone is so different. Because look - I know people close to me who’ve had… You know, doctors will tell them in certain medical things, like “Well, the chances are like 0.1%” and they’re like “Yeah, well, that happened, so of course… Those are big steps to me”, right?

But here’s where all these contextual factors are significant. For example, you just had a baby, right? So your attention or awareness around the possibility of threat, physically, is likely higher, because you have a very vulnerable little person that you’re trying to care for, who doesn’t have the immunity that you have, your wife has, or your other child has, right?

That’s right. So my perspective is different because of my responsibilities.

So if you have somebody who is single, or doesn’t have kids, or only has themselves to concern themselves about, and they understand their limitations and their vulnerability level, then their response to a scenario like this will 100% be different…

…because their vulnerability level is – they’re less vulnerable than maybe me and my family might be.

Right. So wouldn’t that imply different decisions for them than for you?

A hundred percent, yeah.

Right. So having that sense of respect around other people, and then maybe actually changing it in this example, to say a single individual who doesn’t have the same connections or susceptible populations, that they actually would maybe add that to their mental filter to go “Well, maybe this isn’t significant for me. Maybe it is significant for somebody else, so I am gonna practice washing my hands more often and being considerate in public settings, like the grocery stores, movie theaters…”

We know there are certain environments that tend to be more impacted, dare I say, by germs. And they tend to be public, where a lot of people are.

Grocery carts. Gas station pumps.

These places where everybody touches it, and… Yeah, it’s really interesting, honestly…

What if I posed a question to you, to sort of help you and our listeners and all of us look at this through a different framework… And that is “Would your decision to do X, Y or Z be different if it were you?” If it was you that had a compromised immune system, would you make a different choice, if you knew that it could affect you?

Well, do you mean like to be in public, or…

Whatever it might be.

We hear this word “social distancing”, it’s the phrase being tossed around now, and as we were talking about, we’re social species, so it’s natural for us to be social…

Right. Yeah, exactly. So recognizing – like, what if I myself was the contaminant, or the contaminated, the easily impacted one? Would that change my choices?

I would hope so, especially if you are aware of it, which is sort of half the battle… You can be that and not be aware because of testing, and things like that, in this very specific scenario… So yeah, if I was tested and I knew, it would definitely change my choices. Personally, that would totally color every choice I make.

So recognizing that while it might not be a big deal for you/to you because it’s not you, if you were them, then it would.

I just think about all these different conversations that we’ve had, and again, we’re not trying to necessarily give people all the answers, because of course we don’t have them, but rather I want people to be able to think… To think differently and to look at things from alternative perspectives, so that they can be more agile or flexible in their mind, and go “While it might not directly impact me, I’m not going to do X, Y or Z because that could be me. So I’m not going to.”

What I’ve been asking myself more recently was “How can I be more empathetic in this position? How can I have more compassion in this scenario?”

That’s the question I’ve been asking myself… And then that gives me a chance to evaluate and examine the data around me, have that panoramic view (like we’ve talked about) and say “Okay, where is my position of empathy?”

“How can I do my best to be in their position, to understand their scenario?” All the ways that empathy is made and occurs, I try my best to do that. And it’s not always 100%, because I don’t think you can have 100% empathy. You try your best to have as much as you possibly can, and then be compassionate as a response of your empathetic position. So that’s what I’ve been trying to do, a “What if it was me?” kind of thing.

Sure. Yeah, exactly… Because see how it changes the filter for you, to then broaden the perspective? Because we are all apt to make different decisions if we only have a sliver of the information. I’m gonna have trouble identifying things if I was only given – think like Wheel of Fortune [unintelligible 00:21:55.00] recently somebody solved a puzzle with only one letter…

Oh, genius!

[laughs] Here’s one letter, and that’s all you’ve got…

Lucky guess or a genius. One of the two.

[laughs] Yeah. So I think this gets at a sense of “How can we have empathy and respect for other people in a way in which we never had?” Because maybe I didn’t need to.

Yeah, I guess so. I mean, in a world where China - from Houston, Texas - seems so far away, it’s very difficult to empathize, because “Oh, that’s so far away.” Not that I don’t care, but it’s not me, it’s not in my purview right this moment, so it’s not a reaction I need to do right now… Just hypothetically speaking. But in a scenario like this, when something comes from January, having these occurrences, and to now (literally yesterday) the news here in Houston was like “Hey” – Houston Rodeo, which is enormous…

…two million or more people. It’s never been canceled, ever, in its entire history… And if you know Texas, it’s all about rodeo, it’s all about agriculture, and farming, and cattle… It’s the thing here. So for the rodeo to be canceled, it’s such a big deal. It’s almost like an eye-opener, like “Oh, my… If the rodeo is canceled, it must be a big deal.”

And the people in China are now so much more closer to me, and I’m now able to have so much more realization of my need for empathy and compassion because the world is just that small now.

And we now see how fast something can change.

Yeah. So with that, in this conversation, talk about – of course there has to be future implications of this… Because now we do know how interconnected we literally are, that maybe it then changes. And this is what we’re getting at, of all of these unknowns. It’s like, “Well, what does it mean for how we do business?” Look at how many people are working remotely now.

[00:24:13.03] I can talk about – I got notification, which has been interesting in watching the trends within the field of psychology and providing psychological services, because we have limitations in terms of state standards… There isn’t any agreement; while there’s similarities, I can’t go into another state and start practicing psychology without an active license… So looking at how do we regulate this profession, because really, the regulation is for the patients, that they’re protected; everything is about the best interest of them.

So we got notification that there are certain insurers who created different codes that we can bill for, that allow us to provide therapy via technology, and then associated HIPAA-compliant practice opportunities, technologies that we can use in order to do that… Which has been very sort of a…

A hard no. [laughs]

Yeah, it’s been controversial–

To put it lightly, a hard no.

Yeah, because like we’ve talked about, this sense of humanness, in that it’s very different to provide therapy when I only have either written words; I don’t have voice inflections, and especially I don’t have a face. There is so much data that I lose without body language.

Yeah, body language is huge…

Because I can notice congruencies or incongruencies with what people are saying… And it’s just different. When I wanna have a hard conversation with someone, typically I wanna have it face to face.

Yes, absolutely. It’s not like “We’ve got a really hard thing to talk about. Let’s do Skype.” It just doesn’t happen. I mean, maybe if you physically can’t meet… But if you can physically meet, in a hard situation you wanna meet face to face.

And not for the physical confrontation, but just because we’re social, we intermingle, we are bound by relationship. It’s part of our humanity. We all struggle, as we said in the first episode of this podcast, and the other thing is we’re designed for relationship. It’s natural to want to meet face to face.

Right. So in some ways, technology has constraints, because it can’t substitute for human touch.

But when or where can it actually be incredibly functional, helpful and supportive - like now. So many universities within the U.S. have gone to either closed campuses, or the online format, like “All classes will be in this format for X period of time.”

It’s by force though. This isn’t nomination; this isn’t “Oh, I’m volunteering to do remote.” This is by force.

There is really, in many cases, no other choice, unless you wanna be a threat to your peers, your neighbors, your literal neighbors, your city neighbors, your state neighbors, whatever it might be. It’s by force.

So in some cases, when things happen by force, there isn’t a lot of knowledge around doing it, so you’re sort of winging it, in a lot of cases. There’s a lot of people right now winging working from not their normal work environment… Which could be at home, it could be a coffee shop… Probably not a coffee shop, but it could be potentially with people they still can gather with, that there’s less threat; where the social distancing is not a thing.

[00:28:03.21] Right. What’s interesting - in my email this morning ironically I got a notification from Starbucks, because…

They’re closed. [laughter]

Half-price lattes? What was it? [unintelligible 00:28:16.03] What is it?

[laughs] That they are taking from their experience internationally, and what they can offer here within the States – I mean, to go “We’re being considerate of the cleanliness of our stores and operations, and we’re continuing to operate as normal. However, we will hold the right to go to only drive-through, or only Uber options, or mobile pick-up orders.” That there’s other constraints imposed. It’s going “How do I take the better within the bad?”

Yeah. I like that analogy, because I never really considered the better of the bad. It’s always like “Oh, it’s all bad!” How do you choose the better of the bad?

Well, it’s sort of like, I have multiple options, and they all to some degree suck. It’s not what I want. However, looking at the ways in which we’ve adapter over the years, going back to where we started, we change; we know that years ago all of our exposure to technology is changing our brains and the ways in which they work. Well, is that good? Is that bad? Is that right, is that wrong? Like, sure. Yes. All we know is that it’s going to be different.

Once upon a time, Adam, I believe you probably remembered a lot more phone numbers than if I were to ask you today the phone numbers you could actually recall by memory.

Yeah, there’s a small handful.

Probably like literally one handful, I could probably recall.

Right. So I always have to remember that I don’t have access to certain clinical data if our phone system goes down, because our phone system is connected to cable, which is internet.

Right. The cloud… Yeah, it’s almost like our technology is a trap.

Yeah, it’s a constraint. And that isn’t one that I can sort of usurp or go around.

Yeah. In this world, though, of going remote, we have a lot of unknowns happening there, and all I can say is that it’s great, because I’m an advocate for remote work… But not all jobs can be done remotely. I’d mentioned Houston, obviously we are in the oil and gas, or the energy corridor, which they call it… And I know a lot of people who just apply one part and manage one part to an oil well; and unless they can be on-site and do that thing, then they don’t have a job to do. So not all jobs can be done remotely.

Yeah, do you wanna try farming?

[laughs]

Yeah, I mean – I guess the point is that there’s just so much change happening, and this idea of being adaptable to this change; I’m not sure that plan or prepare well enough for a dramatic 180 change of a lot of things.

No, but I will guarantee you this - you won’t find a way that will work unless you’re looking for some way. So this is like “Can we be creative?” Like we’ve talked about, how do we practice living like water? Water will indefinitely find some cracks, some access points, some way to make a way when there is some way.

That’s true.

[00:31:56.25] It’s this sense of pliability and flexibility. It doesn’t mean it’s preferred, like “Mm, this is good.” But we have that ability to change. But like we’ve said, it’s gonna fare better if we participate in our choice in the changes. You could say “I don’t really wanna work remotely” or “I want to be able to go out.” I think that’s really one of the challenges within this, of like - people go stir-crazy. Not like I have any idea what living in Western Washington is throughout the winter months…

Oh, no… No experience with that at all.

Which is also important to mention, too… You’re in the Seattle area.

So it’s not as if you’re not within the threat zone, so to speak.

You’re not coming from a position of comfort, you’re coming from a position of potential anxiety - I don’t even know - because it’s so close.

Yes. And very much so travel plans, with things we had planned to do with friends or family, and re-examining those and going “Are those worthwhile? Do we change them? If so, what would that look like, and what are the potential hazards?”

Like you started in talking about – it’s hard to think about anything else, but what if we begin to look at it as just a point of data that we incorporate to our decision-making? Remember, when things are new, they’re not well-practiced. They take more energy.

So to allocate and allow for like “Hey, what other options are available to me if this is now a factor in the choices?” I think that’s gonna look different for all of us.

Yeah. The one thing that keeps coming back to me is this “brace for turbulence.” This idea of not panicking, this idea of being adaptable, this idea of being flexible, and that change is going to happen. Sometimes it might not be comfortable change, but it’s gonna happen, and sort of just mentally prepare for that. I don’t know how else to say it, except for just being mentally prepared for change, that it’s gonna happen.

That’s interesting, and I’m glad you revisited that… Because my question to you would then be “What is your perspective on turbulence?” Do you have any feelings on turbulence?

Like, literal turbulence?

To use the analogy in little senses?

So I’ve been on a plane before…

Yeah, but have you been through turbulence…

So I’m trying to think how dramatic… I wouldn’t say overly-dramatic turbulence, to the point where I’m like “This plane is gonna crash!”, but definitely some bumpy flights, where I’m like “Well, I’m gonna throw up. I’m gonna lose it.” Actually, I was on my way to Denver once… We were about to land, and we hit some – coming into Denver, for some reason, right when you’re about to land, it gets really hard… And I was with Ben Gillan, a friend of mine, and we were both like “Dude, are you gonna throw up?” and I’m like “I’m so close to throwing up.” We couldn’t believe how bad the turbulence was…

…and we were blindsided by it, because we didn’t expect it.

But so, if I’m going back to your experience of that contributes to your feeling around it, and then your response to it.

Mm-hm. Because I can only react for my own file. The file I have for it is my data source for reaction.

Exactly. So I could say my data source when I’ve been in turbulence - it’s super-fun to me.

[laughs]

Right? You can be like “And, Mireille, that’s why you’re a psychologist.” There’s a little sickness.

[00:36:00.23] [laughs] But it’s in part because I did gymnastics for so much of my life, and doing things from different levels of height, that feeling my stomach drop, or going on rollercoasters and this uncertainty is, to some degree, fun… Like “Oh, what’s next?” and riding it out… So I don’t get nauseous when I go through turbulence. But maybe I haven’t been on turbulence that was as bad as yours.

Well, I’ll tell you, I didn’t panic. I wasn’t like “Oh, we’re gonna crash.” I braced for change.

Right, but it was uncomfortable, and it didn’t mean that it didn’t nearly make you sick. So with this, if we’re going around this analogy and trying to help our listeners be considerate - if they’re reacting what they perceive to be disproportionately, like huh, maybe you go investigate how you’ve made associations around that, or if there is some other sort of threat or vulnerability that you didn’t know that you had…

…which is prompting more of the panic. Because this is just it - I want people to bring online more of a broader thought process to be able to reflect. And if we’re gonna reflect, we have to use more of our neocortex, right?

Because cats and dogs don’t usually think about their thoughts, nor do reptiles… Right? So when we reflect, we can be more considerate of like “I have a template, or I don’t”, or I have feelings about perceived unknowns… Think about people who like surprises. Do you like surprises? Do you like to be surprised?

Well, my birthday is coming up, and my wife has something planned… And part of me wants to know what it is today, so the answer is kind of like no, but kind of like yeah, too. So it’s kind of like no and yeah. No, I don’t really like surprises, but I enjoy them when I get them.

Yeah. Well, so everybody has a different take on…

Surprises.

Yeah, how they respond to surprises. You could say – some people are like “Yeah, it’s an adventure and I love it, while other people might be like “No, no…! I need to know what’s coming”, so they’re probably going to respond in a more activated or elevated way. That’s okay.

Yeah. It’s also different too, when people feel or don’t feel supported by others.

And “others” is such a wide spectrum. I live in rural Houston, in Texas, and I couldn’t imagine if I was in New York City. I would probably panic if I was in New York City. So if I had those big buildings around me and all those people around me, in that place, I can recognize and empathize and be compassionate to somebody who’s panicking that lives there. Not complete and utter, crazy panic, but I can empathize with them doing so. I wouldn’t say like “Oh, you should be panicking…” Because there’s just so many people around. It’s such a dense population.

Okay, so taking this another step further… If we’re wanting to get practical, if you’re aware that you would panic in a setting such as New York, how would you respond to that internal experience or emotional experience?

The panic, you mean?

[00:39:39.26] Yeah. Would you just hunker down, would you isolate? Would you try to get away?

No, I don’t think I would try to get away. Or maybe potentially… I might be like “I’ve gotta get out of the city.” I’ve been in hurricane scenarios here in Houston - back to Houston again; we’ve had hurricanes, and I’ve fled to Austin or San Antonio in a couple different hurricane scenarios, because it made sense then - the highways, and the ability to flee, to seek safety, to seek refuge was an ability. It was an option, so I took it.

So if fleeing was an option, I would consider it…

Although if I had my family in the same scenario here now in New York City, it would be – I don’t know. I just don’t know what I would do. That’s the point… How can you manage and how can you navigate the unseeable unknown. That’s hard.

So then I would say “Who or what would you utilize or look to to help you make more decisions?” I’m totally putting you on the spot.

No, that’s fine. I like this. I would probably say people I know and trust.

And that’s a wide spectrum, too. It could be literal people I know, or news sources, or potentially people I’ve never met on the internet, for some rational thought… Like, “Are they panicking? Should I panic?” Yes, no? …whatever. I would seek people that I’ve got sound advice from before… That has led me down a path that I’m optimizing for.

See, there are strategies and options that are available. They might not be ideal and they might not totally safeguard you, but they would provide you with an opportunity to change your experience, and potentially modify of manage the panic… And that is where we go. We’re not in charge of everything that we encounter throughout our lives, but we wanna look for ways that we can navigate them as best we can within those constraints… Wherein we have some sense of safety, both with other people, and within ourselves.

It’s simply important to not just accept your circumstances as your only way, like you are just at the mercy of what happens to you.

Yeah. While just like on turbulence there are constraints - you cannot get off of the airplane without other severe consequences… But rather, who else or what else will help you buffer that as you don’t know what to expect in the future? This is why the flight attendants or the pilot talk to you, and give you updates, and say “This is what’s going on.” They name it to tame it. And this is how we can practice utilizing resources, skills and strategies to manage ourselves and our lives with others in a much more effective way.

Changelog

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