Most of what we worry about never happens and, even when it does, it’s rarely as bad as we imagine it will be. Think about all the things you worry about (and have worried about) and ask yourself how often it came to fruition. And if it did, was it as bad as you thought it would be? And if so, were you able to handle it?
Once you start identifying and becoming more aware of your specific worries, notice how often they actually happen. And if they do come true, notice if it was as bad as you anticipated it to be. You’ll find that things usually work out much more positively then you expect.
Personal Tip: One of my biggest worries was not being able to function the next day in my job if I didn’t get enough sleep. This worry, of course, made me anxious, which contributed to poor sleep. Once this happened a number of times (even a couple nights with NO sleep), I noticed that I always got through the day and performed just fine in my job. I might not have felt my best, but no one seemed to notice and nothing bad happened. This built my confidence because I knew that even if I didn’t sleep well (or at all) I would be fine. My worry and anxiety about sleep decreased, which consequently led to better sleep.
Laughter has a way of lightening up something that is serious or anxiety provoking, which tends to undercut the worry and take away its power. One way to do this is to exaggerate your worries.
If your worry is: “I’ll never overcome this insomnia.” Say to yourself: “Yes, that’s true. In fact, I’m probably the worst sleeper in my entire state, maybe in the entire country. I would win a gold medal in the bad-sleepers Olympics. Top scientists will want to study me to learn how I sleep so poorly and what techniques I use. I’ll be on the cover of Time magazine with the headline: ‘Worst sleeper in the universe.’”
See what you can come up with. This is a paradoxical technique. Sometimes when you fully embrace your problem, it takes away its power because you’re no longer fighting it.
Notice the positive
You may think, “There are no positives with my insomnia. It’s all negative.” This is not to minimize the obvious negatives of insomnia. But we can tend to focus only on what isn’t going well. You may notice when you don’t fall asleep, or how many times you woke up, or how horrible you felt the next day.
But do you also notice when things go well? Do you take note when you have a good night’s sleep, fall asleep reasonably fast, feel good the next day, or see some (even small) improvements in your sleep as a result of applying the skills in this program? It’s crucial to notice the things that go well, as it will strengthen and increase these positive changes over time.
Personal Tip: I focused on creating positive thoughts, even for the times I couldn’t sleep. I got to enjoy the late night or early morning. It was quiet, peaceful and I could read a good book or get some work done. I learned to embrace this time instead of fight it, which paradoxically improved my sleep, because I wasn’t worried about it or framing it as a negative thing (which eliminated my anxiety about it).