Whether you’ve suffered from insomnia for years or recently starting experiencing sleep trouble, I have one important question to ask:
If you could snap your fingers and instantly make your insomnia disappear completely and permanently, with no effort at all, sleeping deeply and soundly tonight, and every night, waking up feeling rested and refreshed, would you do it?
If you immediately answered “yes,” I would say, not so fast. Let’s dig a little deeper. Sometimes we undermine our best intentions with thoughts we hold subconsciously. Perhaps you’ve had some of these thoughts:
- I’ve had insomnia so long it has become a part of my identity and giving it up would be like giving up a part of myself.
- I get extra affection, care and sympathy when I tell others about my insomnia and suffering and I might not get that attention anymore if I give up my insomnia.
- I feel like there’s something wrong with me that it’s taken so long to overcome insomnia (note: that’s simply not true!), so it’s “easier” to just keep struggling with it.
- I convinced myself that I was born with insomnia so letting go of this belief will be scary and difficult.
- I might be using insomnia to avoid being more productive, social, or ambitious, because of anxiety or fear, and curing it will force me to face these challenges.
- I worry about what I will do with all the extra energy and time I will have without the distraction of insomnia.
Some or none of these may be true for you. The point is that you may be ambivalent about overcoming your insomnia. I see it all the time in my therapy practice. Someone who has suffered with depression for decades comes in sincerely wanting help, but subconsciously a part of them wants to hold onto the depression. Unknowingly, they fight against recovery because they have not resolved this inner conflict. The problem is they are not consciously aware of the resistance or ambivalence.
This may or may not be true for you regarding your insomnia. You may have no doubts and want to sleep better. But just to make sure, next week, I’m going to teach you a helpful exercise that will allow you to identify if there is any resistance that might keep you, or has kept you, from resolving your insomnia.
If there is resistance, then this exercise will tell you specifically what it is so you can address it. If you aren’t ambivalent, the exercise will only reinforce your motivation and arm you even more for success.