Sally, a fifty-ish year old businesswoman who suffers from panic attacks. The kind of fear that comes from not being able to breathe, crushing chest pain, call 911 terror. The paramedics would take her to an emergency room and sometimes she was admitted, but the tests are always negative.

I’ve seen Sally over the years, and she understands that her panic attacks are most likely to occur when she’s feeling alone and vulnerable. She knows they stem from lingering childhood fears about being abandoned. As a 5 year old she was taken to the ER for what were thought to be asthma attacks. These episodes were often triggered when her parents left her in the care of a nanny on their long business trips.

Sally understands the unconscious dynamics of her behavior, but having insight doesn’t necessarily change it. When she sustains a significant loss (two husbands/lovers/business setbacks), she finds herself getting trapped on the old panic highway. Insight into a problem doesn’t necessarily change the behavior. To change behavior you must give your brain a new set of instructions, otherwise you get swept up in the traffic of well-worn path of old patterns; you have to create detours on the highway of destructive habits.

In order to get out of old ruts, those familiar almost reflexive reactions, you must find a way to get out of what’s familiar and see from a new perspective, alter your consciousness. Your brain has the capacity to create new neural pathways, a quality called neuroplasticity. And the good news is, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been repeating dysfunctional/hurtful habits, you can always choose to change; by finding the will, and getting some training and support.

When you feel weak and faltering, here’s how you go about creating detours and getting into a different consciousness. Humans have been doing it since the beginning of time. Ancient healers might drum, pray and light incense, yogis alter the way they breathe to induce meditative states, monks chant, dervishes dance; these are all trance states and allow the brain to see the familiar in new ways. They all are detour signs that give the brain new instructions.

One of my favorite ways to alter people’s consciousness is through the use of guided imagery, stories, and rituals. I created such a new path for Sally. She learned how to make a rest stop on the panic highway, smell the roses and wrote a new ending to her old story.

If you want to hear more about how I help people create new endings to old stories, join me at the Gesundheit! Institute Webinar Series Premiere this Tuesday evening April 17th. at 5PM on the West Coast (8 PM on the East Coast, and check your time zone). Register, it’s free.

Or if you’d rather read about it, get my new book, Stop Your Sh*t Shoveling at the store.