Momentum Podcast: 49
Entreprenurs And Panic Attacks
by Alex Charfen
Last week, I had massive, overwhelming anxiety. Here's why, I was sick. I was actually sick from before the 1st of July, until about Saturday or Sunday, so over seven days.
It's time we start talking about this out in the open, sharing our experiences, and letting each other know that there is nothing wrong with us. It is very common for entrepreneurs to have panic attacks and even suicidal ideation. It usually shocks and scares us, and can come out of nowhere. One of my clients described a particularly bad day where he… Woke up late… Fought with his wife… Had a conflict with one of his kids… Got to the office and had to put out several fires… Had two clients call in and cancel deals… And got a letter from the IRS…
He was then driving to a lunch meeting and there was a split-second where he thought about turning left in front of a bus headed towards him and making it all go away. When he told me about it he said “I can't believe I had that thought but it was there and it scared the hell out of me.” This is more common in most of us admit.
I know I have been there. Just this week two of my private clients had relatively severe panic attacks. Both of them have thriving seven-figure businesses, happy families, and incredible lives. It can happen to any of us. We are momentum based beings who are driven to go forward and accomplish. When the pressure and noise gets too high in our lives it can cloud our outcomes and make us feel like we don't know where we are going.
Full Audio Transcript
I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds, those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can role over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure we pay attention to their rules but only so that we can bend them, break them, and then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it, we don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. Instead of just day dreaming what could be we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive, human evolution and we always will be.
This is Episode 49 of the Momentum Podcast for the Entrepreneurial Personality Type "Entrepreneurs and Panic Attacks." This is a topic that I don't think that we as entrepreneurs talk about enough or share enough, or put out there enough because let's be very clear, the day you become an entrepreneur you become a commodity, a product, something that can be judged in a way that most people just aren't. Entrepreneurs are a product in and of ourselves and the day we say, "I am an entrepreneur, I'm going to do something new, I'm going to change things, make things better, put value into the world," is the day we start feeling the vulnerability and exposure of being judged, of being seen, of being examined. It's difficult for a lot of us and you add on top of that the fact that we are evolutionary hunters physiologically sensitive, momentum-based beings that are highly reactive to constraint. We are programmed to be on the hunt, to be moving forward, to be out and making things happen.
The challenge is when we get into a place where we don't feel momentum, when we feel constraint, when the world conspires against us we conspire against ourselves, we get held in place we become symptomatic, we can look broken, we can look disordered, disabled, and just like we can't move forward. People around us get worried about us, we get worried about ourselves, and we don't talk about it because admitting we have a weakness is admitting that we are less than, it's admitting that maybe we shouldn't be that product that we are putting ourselves out there as. It's admitting that we have a challenge, we have problem, there's something holding us back. As entrepreneurs I think this is a topic we must talk about and it takes a certain level of discipline and bravery to even bring it up.
Like a friend of mine did about a year and a half ago, in fact this is how wet, it might have been a little longer than that. One of the most talented young entrepreneurs I've ever met, his name's Gallant Dill here in Austin. A while ago I was on Facebook, I made a post, and then I saw a post directly below mine where he said he had a really rough night, had gone to the doctors, and had gotten some prescriptions for a panic attack. I remember I called him immediately because I've been there. When I was younger I had a series of bad months, went and saw a doctor, told him how I was feeling, gave him transparency around what was going on for me and in about a five minute appointment he prescribed two drugs, this was a while ago. I was given Xanax and Wellbutrin. I had no idea what I was taking, I didn't really think about it. He said, "You take the Wellbutrin every morning, you take the Xanax when you're feeling panicky." So I started taking it and within a week I felt worse than I ever had in my life. I was taking the Xanax but it just made me feel out of it and all drugged and dopey. The Wellbutrin maybe me have weird thoughts, I was out of my mind. I called Gallant and I said, "Man, what's going on? Tell me what's happening?" He was really transparent. He told me he was living downtown and there was a lot going on, and there was a lot of noise around him and he just felt overwhelmed like he had had too much going on.
I shared with him the advice that I'll share with you. As entrepreneurs when we have panic attacks, when we feel that pressure we have to relentlessly lower the pressure and noise in our lives because this happens to all of us. I shared that advice with Gallant, he changed what he was doing, he moved, he changed his life, he lowered the pressure and noise relentlessly and now he's making seven figures, geez, I don't know if he's up to seven figures a month but I wouldn't be surprised if he was. He moved out of downtown, he lowered the noise, he made sure that only the things that really mattered were getting his attention and it changed everything for him.
I share this story because he didn't have to take the drugs he was given, he didn't have to go on an addicted behavior by taking pills that mask the symptoms we all feel. He overcame it himself by changing his behaviors, changing his habits, changing where he lived, that was his commitment to his success. I'm asking you do you have the same level of commitment? Sooner or later every one of us has the feeling of a panic attack. You might not even know that you've had one. It's that feeling like everything's fine, you're walking out to your car, you twist the key in the door and as you open the door you have this feeling of impending doom, you get short of breath, you don't really know why, you might even feel your palms sweat or go cold, and your heart will palpitate and maybe even skip a beat or two, and it feels like something's coming to get you, like someone's chasing you like you should look over your shoulder.
Why do we have these panic attacks as entrepreneurial personality types? Because you are an evolutionary hunter that is meant to be out on the hunt gaining momentum, making things happen, creating new outcomes in the world and forging your path. What's important for a hunter is that we must know what we are hunting. We must know what we are going after. We must know what our destination is. When people like us lose sight of the destination, when we feel too much constraint, when we don't feel like we can create momentum we get into a place where we physiologically react. Everything that makes us appear talented, and unstoppable, and magical as an entrepreneur turns on us. Our innate motivation that allows us to go longer and further than anybody else makes us feel like we're just spinning our wheels. Our ability to make unique connections makes it so that we can't see the forest for the trees.
Our drive, that physiological, cognitive, and chemical drive towards momentum turns on us and when we are out of momentum we are physiologically challenged, we get exhausted, we have thyroid issues, adrenal issues, we feel like we can't move forward, we become cognitively challenged, brain fog, and feeling like we really can't make things happen, make the right decisions, and then chemically we become affected and it can make us feel all types of things including panic attacks. If this has ever happened to you I want you to understand something, it is perfect normal, too much is going, constraint got too high, it's a temporary situation that you can get beyond, and it's something that you can insulate yourself from. If you don't want these anymore you don't have to have them. Every once in a while, a long while, I will experience a brief moment of panic, a brief heart palpitation but nothing like it used to be. I too have dramatically changed my life and you can yours as well.
Here's what you do as an entrepreneur to insulate yourself from the symptomatic side of our personality, the side that when it is pushed too hard makes us look like we are challenged. First and foremost lower the pressure and noise in your life, relentlessly look at everything you have in your life and ask yourself is this serving me, do I want this around. If there's something that is causing you frustration, or irritation, or any type of constraint consider getting rid of it regardless of what it is, review the people, the places, the things in your life and be relentless. Why? Because your future is at stake and your future is mine, we all go forward faster together. The more you eliminate constraint, the more you reduce the pressure and noise the more momentum you will feel. You're an evolutionary hunter, get up every morning and get outside, go for a walk 20 or 30 minutes outside, let your body know you are not in fight or flight, these things are cumulative. If you experienced too much, too many days in a row, if you don't get outside and breath and walk you may have a panic attack, insulate yourself by moving like a hunter should move, get up, go outside, look down the horizon and chase something down as you walk, bring it closer to you.
Listen to the last couple podcasts I did you'll get even more details on how to do this. Hydrate, drink more water than you think is necessary, drink more water than you do now. We are physiologically sensitive momentum-based beings. Our bodies are what we interpret the world with and our mind is how we figure out what our body is telling us. Make sure that you're hydrated and you have enough water, you have enough fuel to move forward.
Here's a big one, as an evolutionary hunter, as a physiologically sensitive momentum-based being you have to be more careful about what you put in your body, on your body than the average person. Stop eating processed foods, artificial sugars, artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives. Start eating a whole foods diet, put yourself into momentum physiologically and support the momentum physiologically, cognitively, and chemically by creating the right choices, the right habits, and the right processes in your life.
Here's what I want you to know, every successful entrepreneur I've ever worked with has suffered from some form of panic attack. When things get bad for people like us we don't talk about it. Pressure and noise, and the feeling of constraint can make us feel held in place, it can make us symptomatic, it could make us suspect of the people around us, and it can make us have all kinds of challenging thoughts up to and including suicidal ideation. We have all been there. I won't tell you that I've ever thought about actually taking my life but I know that there's been more than once in my life where I've asked the question should I keep doing this and that's close enough for me.
I remember talking to another client I have and he had had a particularly rough day. He got up in the morning and had a fight with his wife, then he had a disagreement with his kids, then he pulled over on the way to work. We've all had days like this haven't we? He ended up in his office and I think he either had his assistant or one of his executives quite on him that day. He got a letter from the IRS telling him that he owed taxes, there's something prehistoric about the three letters I-R-S that triggers entrepreneurs into all kinds of challenging behaviors. He shared with me that he went out to lunch that day and was driving down the road to a restaurant he eats at often, and there was a bus coming in the other direction and he had this split thought that if he pulled the wheel left he could make it all go away. I remember exactly what he said, he said, "Alex, I don't know where the hell that thought came from, I don't know what made it happen but it scared me to death that it was there."
I think that any entrepreneur who hasn't had that moment is just lucky because it's coming, we've all been there and when it happens to you I want you to know that you are not alone and there's nothing wrong with you. You're just part of the small tribe of human beings that have been pre-programmed to go into the future, go on a hunt, create a new reality, and then ensure it becomes real. The clearer we are about our outcomes the more we lower pressure and noise, the more we're willing to transparently ask for protection and support the better things get for people like us and the less symptomatic we feel.
This is my opinion, but I don't think people like us need to take a pill that stops the mind/body reaction, the interpretation of our mind telling us what our body is feeling and cuts that off because it's regressive, it only makes things worse. When people like us have the right habits, we do the right things, we take care of ourselves mentally, we take care of ourselves physically, cognitively, and chemically, we eat the right foods, we lower pressure and noise, we're relentless about making sure that we're in momentum we're not symptomatic, we're magically and I know you can be too.
The next time you feel that sinking feeling that you need to look over your shoulder, or you feel that heart palpitation, or breathing start to get shallow, or that panicky feeling that something's coming and you don't know what pause for a moment and remind yourself this is who we are, breath slowly in and out through your mouth, don't stand still or sit in it, get up, walk around, and use your physiology to tell your body you're okay. Grab a big glass of water and hyper hydrate, drink 16 ounces or more to calm the body and get yourself out of this evolutionary feeling that there's something to do. For people like us it's always the same, when we're feeling challenged, or constrained, or like we can't create momentum we need to focus on our outcome, understand that we're meant to be doing exactly what we're doing and go back on the hunt.
Every entrepreneur I know has panic attacks. I think if we put it out in the open and we talked about it more often, and we shared how we're really feeling with the people around us we wouldn't feel so different because we have them, we would know that we are all the same.
Thanks for being with me here on Episode 49 of the Momentum Podcast for the Entrepreneurial Personality Type. If you relate to anything that I've shared, if you've felt this way, if you know that you can get thrown off, if you want more help, or if you want help in creating the systems, the strategy's, the habits, and the routines in your life that will eliminate panic attacks and put you into momentum so you can achieve at the highest level go to momentumwebclass.com. Check out our momentum master class, I would love to help you create momentum in all areas of your life and insulate yourself from the symptoms of being an evolutionary hunter in constraint. I want to help you create momentum.
Thanks for being here. Tomorrow is Episode 50 of the Momentum Podcast and I look forward to sharing it with you. We're going to do something special, we don't even know exactly what it is yet but I look forward to sharing with you and having you here tomorrow for Episode 50.