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Insomnia and Racing Thoughts


Insomnia isn’t something I normally write about, but it’s something I’ve been struggling with lately, and I know from experience that if I’m struggling with something, most likely I’m not the only one.


If you’ve read my blog for long, you know that uncovering and pursuing our goals and purpose is my passion, but when I’m walking around like a zombie after yet another restless night of racing thoughts, pursuing anything becomes a challenge.


These episodes of racing thoughts and insomnia happen to all of us, and they can make it nearly impossible to fall back to sleep… like a roller coaster ride, strapped in helpless while our thoughts pull us along… up, down, spinning, falling… falling in every way… except back to sleep.

After a few nights of this, our work, our running, our parenting… everything can feel so much more challenging.

It’s like having a newborn in the house all over again! (Cue the pots of coffee)


But a couple weeks ago, while on the wild 2:00 am ride yet again, I had a huge ah ha moment! A realization that gave me the power to finally win this battle. I realized that, while I was thinking all these thoughts, I was actually FEELING the feelings associated with them, as if I was literally going through those specific situations right then and there.


For instance, if I was remembering something that I had handled badly with my kids, I felt guilt and sadness, as if what happened earlier was happening all over again in that moment.


When the next thought came, a worry about getting everything on my overwhelming to-do list done, I felt stress and anxiety – the exact same stress and anxiety I feel when dealing with that worry during waking hours.


Holy smokes it’s exhausting to feel like a bad mom, stress about the upcoming school year, worry about family, panic about work and finances and beat yourself up for not being able to sleep… all within a 15 second period of time.

No wonder we’re so tired!

Here’s the crazy part – our bodies don’t know the difference between the thoughts in our minds and what’s happening in real life. So the stress hormones ramp up even when we aren’t actually in the situations we’re stressing about, making it even MORE difficult to fall back asleep. Our bodies think we are actually going through the experiences as they race through our minds!


But! There is a ton of power in realizing what’s going on here. Knowing that our racing thoughts are creating a “false reality” as we lie there wide-eyed… just KNOWING this, gives us the power to change our experience instantly, simply by changing our thoughts.


How?


By realizing that the thoughts racing around in our mind are simply that – thoughts. Our kids are not in our head. Our work is not physically in our mind. They are thoughts. And as such, we can choose which ones to focus on, and which to let go. Stressing about our to-do list doesn’t shorten it, it just makes us too tired to actually tackle it effectively the next day.

Seeing the thoughts for what they are – imaginary by definition – takes away their power and gives it back to us.

So when I wake up at 2:00 am and the thoughts start to creep in, I give myself credit for being the creator of these thoughts, knowing that, as their creator, I can also un-create them. I greet them, acknowledge them for what they are - unreal, imaginary creations of my mind - and then I redirect my mind to what IS real in that moment – the soft pillow beneath my head, my smooth sheets, my breathing. These are literally the only things that are real in that precise moment.


The thoughts that race aren’t real, no matter how hard our mind tries to convince us that they are. Juxtaposing them with what IS real – our beds, our breath – allows us to see how powerless those racing thoughts really are.


That simple realization can give us the power to pull the break on the roller coaster and hop off, and slide back into the blissful sleep that will give us the power to take charge of our day and move in the direction of our dreams. Rested and empowered and ready to be everything we were born to be.


Xx Jen

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