Neutralizing a Full Blown Schema Attack

In Recovery from anxiety disorder we must prepare for the eventuality of full blown schema attacks. These attacks may come as an elevated level of worry (anticipatory fear), a painful sense of shame, a panic attack, a compulsion to do something you don’t want to do, performance anxiety or a flashback.

1. In the first moments of the attack you will need to recognize that you are having a mental event; you are being exposed to your schema. You may think to yourself: “This is a mental event; I am exposed to my schema.”

2. Turn your attention to your body. Initiate Mindful Exposure to the Large Breath. Do this sitting or standing. Your intention is not to relax, but to concentrate. Focus on the physical sensations and witness your state of being.

3. Radically Accept your experience by willingly enduring and embracing all physical manifestations of the Schema Attack. You may think to yourself: “This is my experience, and I accept this unconditionally.” Continue concentrating on your bodily experience focusing heavily on maintaining long steady breathing.

4. As you begin to get control of your body’s fear reaction you then start to reorient yourself. Invoke Principles and Saying that relate to your unique anxiety disorder. Start to “talk yourself down.” Continue to use deep breathing as you reorient your thinking. The Principles and Sayings you use will affirm that you are having a mental event, that there is no real danger. The Principles and Saying will supplant any intention to over-compensate. They will encourage you to remain humble, concentrated and self-oriented rather than other-people-oriented.

These procedures parallel the practice of Mindful Exposure to Disturbances. However, in a schema attack you do not need to search your mind for upsetting thoughts and images; they have found you. Remember to later note your schema attack. Identify the nature of the schema and the maladjusted coping mechanisms that were “frustrated.” List relevant Principles and Sayings. Use your experience for future Mindful Exposure.