When You Find Yourself Up a Tree (again): Don’t Panic

Douglas Adams wrote the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. On the cover of the guide were written two words that constitute the best advice ever: Don’t Panic. That’s not only wisdom, it’s f@cking solid. Panicking makes everything worse.

It’s not like anyone just loses their shit by choice. It’s the cumulative impact of having stuffed too much. We tell ourselves to “get over it” and what that really means is pretend it never happened and that we don’t need to have any feelings about it. (As though feelings need to be necessary or rational).

All of us know our share of Chicken Little’s – people who are convinced that the sky is in fact falling, it’s going to be terrible and that it’ll very likely never be okay again. It’s a rare person who can be calm when the world is falling down around them. There’s a reason why we’re good at it – we’ve had a lot of practice.

I had a good friend ask me recently, “How can you be so f@cking calm?” Without thinking I said, “Multiple tours through hell.” The way my faith works today is that I always know it’s going to be okay. I may not know when or even how, but I know with utter conviction that it will be…because it always is, sooner or later.

I have found tremendous solace in the Serenity Prayer because it allows me to separate what I can do something about and what I must trust a power greater than myself to take care of. I have struggled with powerlessness all of my life and still do on occasion. When I am at my best, I know my limits, my abilities, and what I need to trust my Higher Power to do. And then this amazing thing happens:

Things fall into place. No, really. They do.

I find that when I get out of my head and quiet the fear in my heart, I become free to connect to my gut. What I know intuitively and instinctively is also what I know spiritually. To trust this is difficult, but practice has paid off. You’ll never find me up a tree. You’ll find me leaned against it, talking to good folks hanging from the highest branches, encouraging them to let go.

They tell me, “Letting go feels like failure.” I explain that every time I try to do the impossible, I fail. What I’ve learned is in this wild adventure of living is:

- My best is always good enough
- I need tons of good people to share the good times and the bad with
- My wife is right every time I’m not
- The Universe never stops trying to help me, no matter how many times I f@ck it up.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.