The Broad is Back!

September 23, 2013

Don’t Panic!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by maggiec @ 3:36 pm
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“Don’t panic!” ~Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

The title of the radio drama turned novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, comes from the guide to the galaxy the characters use to negotiate cultures on their travels. In fact, one of the lead characters, Ford Prefect, is one of the authors working on updates to the volume. The cover of the Hitchhiker’s Guide proclaims, in a soothing font, “Don’t panic.” This is sound advice for any intergalatic travels.

But as I tell my students, it’s one of the top five rules for life in general. Panic is such a useless reaction. It wastes precious energy that could be better used getting us out of whatever jam is causing the panic. When we’re in a jam, the last resource we can afford to lose is energy.

And right after I very nicely posted this blog, I realized that I had posted it on the wrong blog site. This is for my crunchy granola blog, and it really has nothing to do with the broad being back. But oh well, it’s here now, so it’s staying! But if you read both blogs, sorry about the repetition. And me? I’m not panicked. But I digress.

It also clouds our minds and our judgment, other resources it’s best not to lose.

So overall, panic is a waste of time. Sadly, it’s also very human. I don’t panic often, and when I do, it’s not for long. Learning to control the response was not easy, but it was something I learned young. I lived in an atmosphere in which panic was not seen as a viable option. Stoicism and rationality were important by-words, and while I’m grateful for my phlegmatic temperament, I wasn’t sure that was an approach I wanted to use with the next generation. As a result, I didn’t know how to teach not panicking. So basically, a fat lot of good I am.

There’s a lot of nature and nurture influence when we’re in a panic-inducing situation. I was born placid, I’m told, and placidity was valued in my youth. Keep calm and carry on was seen as common sense more than anything else. Not that I didn’t have family members who seemed to enjoy living in a state of panic. Don’t we all? But they were seen as ineffective, inefficient, and sadly theatrical.

But then when I was a teacher, I did have to try to figure out the process I used to not panic so that I could share it with students. A lot of it is similar to what I discussed yesterday, breathing, centering, focusing. I also talk to myself. I tell myself, “Victims panic; survivors stay calm.” That works for me, but it won’t work for everyone. I have my stoicism guiding me (or should that be goading me?). Each one of us needs to find what works for us.

The key is to make a plan ahead of time and practice. If we practice staying cool and collected when the stakes are low it becomes slightly easier to do when the stakes are high.

But I honestly think “Don’t panic” is some of the best advice found in literature. Sadly, we don’t have a guide we can turn to in every situation to help us navigate the sticky situations, but with a little practice, we can teach ourselves tools that will stand us in good stead.


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