In this post, Derek Sivers shares his experience of a panic attack during a scuba diving trip and being calmed down by his instructor. He then subsequently used the same technique to help someone else who wasn’t OK on a later trip.
Pain and suffering are part of the human experience. For anyone ask “why me?” doesn’t make sense. There are those who dissimulate and those who don’t, but underneath it all there is hardship.
There is less stigma around therapy than there used to be, but I haven’t met anyone (me included!) who hasn’t transformed their life for the better after going through some form of counselling.
I learned a few lessons from this experience.Source: scuba, panic, empathy | Derek Sivers
There are things in life we think won’t apply to us: Panic. Addiction. Depression.
I thought that was for other people. I thought I wasn’t that type. Why is this happening to me?
But I learned so much empathy that day. These things that only seem to happen to other people can happen to me. We’re not so different. It helps me recognize it in others, and be most helpful by remembering that feeling.
I imagine this is why people, who have been through really hard times, become counselors.
That day also reinforced the power of imitation. My teacher calmed me down so well that it was best to just imitate him.
Before starting therapy, my wife said that she was concerned that I might “lose my superpowers”. One of the ways of thinking about this is as the Main-Character Energy discussed in this New Yorker article. It’s a vitality you bring to each day because you see yourself in a starring role.
Therapy did strip me of that, but in a good way. Instead of some Hollywood actor, I now see myself in a much more realistic light, rather in the way that social media can distort and mediate the view I have of myself. It means that I see myself a part of a whole, rather than set apart from it.
The impulse to see oneself as the focal point of the action is all the more powerful as we emerge from the dull isolation of the pandemic, when activities were limited to the likes of re-growing scallions and feeding bulbous sourdough starters. Post-covid, we want to reclaim control of our stories, exert ourselves upon the world, take our places as protagonists once more—and then post about it. During quarantine, the Internet was one of the few tethers to public connection. But publishing evidence of any social engagements, even C.D.C.-compliant ones, came with the risk of being shamed as reckless or self-indulgent. Now, suddenly, much of that fear of critique is gone. The “return of fomo,” as a recent New York cover described it, means the return of jealousy-inducing Instagram stories and glamorous TikToks.Source: We All Have “Main-Character Energy” Now | The New Yorker