The prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
A peaceful state of mind will lead to less anxiety and restful sleep most nights.
How do we on a consistent basis be in that peaceful state of mind?
I suggest we keep the following in mind:
1. The past is the past. It does not have any power over us unless we allow it to.
2. The future is not yet here. Why sacrifice today by fretting about something that may or (more than likely) may not happen?
3. Find your allies! Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who love and care about you.
4. Have faith in yourself,
5. Have faith in others,
6. Have faith in life,
7. have faith in God.
8. Circumstances and other people can not hurt you if you don’t let them.
9. At the end of the day, say, “I did my best”. Breathe. It is done.
10. In the end, what is truly important? So much of what we permit worry us or upset us if just fluff. Let it go!
Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it by the handle of anxiety, or by the handle of faith. ~ Author Unknown
For a treat, listen to
Time To Say Goodbye Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman.flv
Anxiety and insomnia come when we are afraid. We are afraid when we stop trusting.
When we stop trusting, we start losing sleep at night.
Examples of this are when we stop trusting:
1. our abilities on the job
2. our spouses
3. our kids
4. our country’s leadership
5. our media
Now, a healthy dose of skepticism is prudent, but when we stop having faith in the hull of our life, the rivets start coming out and things fall apart…
The result? Anxiety. Insomnia. A lack of confidence in ourselves, others, and life in general.
Here at The Warm Milk Journal we envision a wholeness: well balanced healthy people living the life of their dreams by day and sleeping restfully and peacefully by night.
Alas, to counteract all of this anxiety and lack of trust, we need to start trusting again. We need to regain and get solid with our faith,
with our power …
To do this we need to get straight and simply KNOW a few things…
Repeat and affirm…
1. I Am love
2. I Am loved
3. I Am safe
4. I am right where I need to be right now
5. Life works with me
6. I am doing my best and that is good enough
7. Other people are doing their best. I pray and bless them. We are all in this together…
8. All things pass…
9. A pendulum is at work all the time (if something is not to my liking, the pendulum will swing the other way in due time)
10. I am a gift and have so much to offer others.
To me faith means not worrying. ~ John Dewey
As many of us know, there are many emotional and mental causes for a rough night of insomnia (I know. I have experienced many of them).
To list just a few, there are:
1. General anxiety
2. Worry about: finances, world events, job-related issues, our kids, our health, our relationship or marriage….
3. Feeling like we can’t do it all
4. The helpless and hopeless feeling of not being perfect (perfectionism sucks and leads to a lot of sleepless nights).
5. Feeling afraid of people not liking us (people pleasing also sucks and leads to many sleepless nights).
6. Doubting our abilities.
7. Doubting decisions we have made
8. Not being able to make up our minds about something (being stuck in indecision is also a terrible place to be in and leads to insomnia)
9. Not feeling safe.
10. Fear of change.
11. Fear of trying new things, yet feeling like we are missing out by doing the same old things all the time
I could go on, but it is painful.
If any of you experience anxiety that is keeping you awake at night, I highly recommend that you:
1. talk to somebody you trust.
2. Work on your faith and nurturing your spiritual life.
3. Surround yourself with positive people
4. Limit your exposure to the media. Don’t always believe in the “bad news” that makes tv ratings and sells papers and tabloids.
6. Meditate and breathe
7. Spend time outdoors
8. Allow yourself and others to be human. We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect.
9. Learn to let things go…FORGIVE (a huge one)!
10. Tell yourself: “I Am safe” and “Life works with me”.
Being ourselves and living a life of integrity goes a long way towards living an anxiety free life and sleeping well at night.
How do we live a life integrity?
1. By being ourselves. If we are being phony or stuck in our people pleasing ways – we will not have peace within ourselves as a result. Hello sleepless nights!
2. Do what we say we are going to do. This is easier to do if we have not over committed ourselves in the first place.
3. Have love, honesty, and faith guide our compass.
4. Take responsibility for our actions. No blame game. A certain amount of peace comes when we mature enough to realize that we are in charge of our own lives. Blaming parents, spouses, jobs, the economy, etc. for our circumstances sets us up for disappointment, resentment, bitterness, rigidity, and terrible nights.
On his nightstand, My husband has a copy of Joel Osteen’s book, I Declare 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life stand.
In this inspirational book, Osteen talks about the “mountains” (challenges) in our lives. Instead of praying about our mountains or getting discouraged because of them, he advises us to speak directly to them. He suggests that we declare, “Mountain you are removed. You will not defeat me. I speak favor over this situation”. (p.169).
If anxiety is robbing you of a good night sleep and living your life to the fullest, then I say enough is enough. Why not declare:
“Anxiety, be gone! There is no room for you in my life. I am much bigger and stronger than you. Good bye”!
I love the idea of declarations. When you declare something you are really coming from a place of strength and power.
Give it a try!
If you are a perfectionist, a people pleaser, or just a person who wants to do good, you may from time to time fall prey to the “second guessing yourself” syndrome. What is this, you ask?
Does any of this sound familiar?
1. You make a decision about something and then stew and fret about whether you made the right decision.
2. You make purchases which you later regret.
3. You sometimes question your choice in: careers, what you are wearing today, what you ordered for dinner, where you are living, even your mate…
4. If you are ever someplace or doing something and you think about all of the other places you could be or the other things you could be doing.
5. You worry about the presentation you made at work, or the paper you turned into your professor…
6. You stress about how you are spending your recreational time: should I be doing dance instead of yoga? Writing in my paper journal or electronic journal? Do I hop on my bike or simply go out on a walk?
This kind of doubting and second guessing one’s self is a recipe for anxiety and insomnia. I know. I am an expert at self-torture. I think many of us people pleasers of the world are prone to this. Perfectionists and tender hearted folks are as well. We just want to do well! We want to make the right choices… be the perfect mothers, wives, and employees. When it comes time to have a vacation we want to select the perfect one: destination, air fare, where we sit on the plane, what hotel we will be staying at, what sights we will see, what restaurants we will eat at, etc.
If we permit our minds to think about all of the options out there (and in today’s world there are always so many choices, aren’t there?!), we will be stuck in agony. There is this “grass is greener on the thing that I did not choose” mantra.
This is misery. Anxiety. Sleepless nights.
I don’t know that I will ever be completely free of this. Just when I think I am sailing along pretty well on this river I am riding, a student or my husband or my kid will say something to me that completely takes me by surprise and because I am not prepared, I take it personally and get emotionally hijacked… Or perhaps an unexpected bill or expense will present itself and I panic and think to myself “What have you done, Debra, staying home all those years with those children and then returning to work as a teacher when you could have practiced law”?
Hmmmm…the beat down and sleepless nights occur.
Although I am still not as thick skinned as I wish I could be, I have come a long way over the years. I have found some things that have helped me overcome my anxiety and self doubt:
1. With each day, I remind myself of the fact that I am doing my best. I may make mistakes (perhaps I wasn’t the perfect teacher, wife, or mother…) but I did my best with what I had that day. That is all God, my students, husband, daughter, life, and (myself) can ask of me.
2. When I make a decision about something, I do it and feel good about it (no ruminating about what I did or did not do).
3. When someone says something that stings me, I step back (and breathe) and try to remember that we all have our subjective points of view. What someone says about me is not set in stone. It has more to do with them than about me, anyway.
4.Go with it! The “perfect” teacher, mother, wife, Christmas holiday…is an elusive myth. What is “perfect” anyway? Real people are not air brushed, things do not always go according to plan, the perfectly planned lesson, dinner party, wedding, or vacation are going to be what they are going to be- no matter how meticulously we planned for them! We need to accept this about life and be more flexible.
5. I like Dale Carnegie’s idea of living in day-tight compartments. Live today.
Life, one day at a time. That’s it.
Sean Ramey is my kind of guy: he is handsome,easy to talk to, loves his family, and cares about people. One of his big passions is teaching people of all ages self defense. Sean has been a martial arts instructor for many years and has his own Martial Arts school in Crestwood, Kentucky.
I recently had the good fortune to chat with Sean again on the phone….
Hello Sean! How are you?
I am well, Debra, thank you!
I know you are newly married and enjoying the family life?…
Absolutely, life is really good.
Well, congratulations again. I am very happy for you.
Sean, last time we spoke we chatted about your martial arts school and the importance of not being “too nice” and knowing how to defend ourselves. I would like to follow up with you about your self defense programs and the book you have been working on…
Sure thing. At our school, Kentucky Tae Kwon and Fitness Academy, Inc., we have our D.E.F.E.N.D self defense seminars. D.E.F.E.N.D. is a self defense course designed to teach individuals how to defend themselves FAST. No experience necessary! D.E.F.E.N.D. is an acronymn for Defending Effectively and Fighting Efficiently with No Delay.
We understand that weekly martial arts training and instruction is not for everyone, however, basic self defense principles should be learned and practiced by everyone. We have offered these seminars to many organizations from corporate groups such as Humana, Inc., and L.N.O. Credit Union to the Girl Scouts of America and church groups!
Well, now you have my attention. I used to be a Girl scout leader!
Yes, Debra, we work with kids and people of all ages.
Many of us who have a hard time sleeping at night are challenged from anxiety. I know (from my own experience) that anxiety stems from fear of some kind…
Fear can certainly steal one’s sense of security and I can see how that would lead to not being able to sleep very soundly at night.
For those of us who are challenged with feeling afraid, what can we do, Sean?
That’s a good question. I think it is real important to feel confident in yourself. The more confidence you have, the greater your peace of mind will be.
What can we do to get that confidence?
For starters, it is important to know that you can handle yourself in any situation. Learning self defense is something I obviously highly recommend.
My husband is a martial arts instructor as well. He speaks often about the importance of cultivating our awareness…
Awareness is so important. We need to be aware of our surroundings, ourselves, and the people around us.
That sounds like a lot of work.
With training, awareness becomes a part of you.
Sean, not all of us have the time or even the interest to train at a dojo and become martial artists. What can we do?
Debra, there are self defense seminars such as ours in Kentucky, and I do have a book coming out soon.
It is my understanding that 20% of the proceeds of your book will go to The Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund?
Yes, that’s right. We are committed to donating 20% for the life of the book.
That’s really nice, Sean. I’m so glad I got to talk with you again.
Same here, Debra.
When you are not busy teaching martial arts, self defense, and writing books, how do you like to spend your time?
That’s easy. Spending time with my family. There is just nothing better.
Thank you, Debra
Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them. ~Brendan Francis
Does fear keep you awake at night? Some of my worst nights have been ones full of scared anxious thoughts about: health, my children, money, the economy, world affairs, getting older, my parents, feeling fat, etc. You name it, I have probably feared or worried about it.
These days I have far fewer angst filled sleepless nights. There are tools we can develop that really do work.
You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith. ~Mary Manin Morrissey
If fearful thoughts are robbing you of a good night sleep, here are some ideas to help:
1. Meditate. Take some time to be still and quiet. You don’t need any special equipment or mantras or anything. Just close your eyes and breathe. Try to become the observer of your own thoughts. If they come, let them pass, and breathe….
2. Condition your mind with the use of affirmations. You can write these down on sticky notes, cards, or in your journal. You may include them in your prayers and use them when you meditate if you find it useful for your mind to have something to focus on.
I have used several affirmations over the years. A few that I am currently using that are working well for me are:
I expect success
I Am safe
Life supports me
3. Limit your media exposure. I still get the morning newspaper but I am very selective about what I read in it. It is no longer the first thing I look at when pouring my first cup of coffee. Instead, I write in my journal, read something spiritual and uplifting, or write a morning prayer for The Warm Milk Journal. I have never watched the news on television. I am very picky about what I read on the internet too.
Our experience is what we believe it is. The “bad news” out there that is constantly being reported (because it sells papers and advertising) does not have to be our focus or personal experience.
4. Limit your exposure to negative people. We are who we spend time with.
5. If you are overwhelmed with worry write your concerns down in your journal. Then let them go before bedtime.
6. Get plenty of exercise during the day. A well exercised body makes for a more calm and centered mind.
7. Focus on the things you love. Love and fear are opposites. Which do you want to steer you?
8. Focus on gratitude and the good that is all around you.
9. Look for and see beauty.
10. Let things go.
11. Be present.
Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop. ~Usman B. Asif
12. Light will always overcome the darkness. In the morning, things will not seem anywhere near as bad as they do in the middle of the night.