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”.
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.
In my lifetime people pleasing has probably been the leading cause of: loss of sleep, worry, anxiety, holding myself back, missed opportunities, and lines on my face.
Perhaps from the time I was a little girl I got conditioned to not just want but absolutely need the approval of my father and when I started school, my teachers. Then when I started my first job, my bosses.
Throughout the years I conducted myself being mindful or thinking about what others thought of me. What did they think of how I looked? What I wore? Who I hung out with? What I did for a living? What my house looked like? How my kids behave? What I said? What car I drove? The agonizing list can go on.
Those of you who are prone to anxiety like I am can relate to this I’m sure. In the past few years I decided that I am tired of living this way- for others. What I need to be doing is making sure I am okay with myself. What others think really does not have to have any control or power over me. This is not an easy task, the shedding of people pleasing. We people pleasers of the world seem to have the mandate of “being nice and perfect” firmly entrenched in our psyches.
I believe that if one can lick the people pleasing thing, peace of mind, a happier life, and much more restful nights of sleep are at hand for the taking.
Sound good? Here are some ideas that are helping me. I can’t say I am completely cured of my people pleasing yet but I, at age 44, am much better than I was even a few years ago.
My list of ten people pleasing blasters:
I will stop here for tonight. This is a subject I feel very strongly about for it is something that has really affected my life. If I can assist in any way to support you in extinguishing people pleasing from your life agenda, then I will be happy.
In peace (and total confidence in myself),
P.S. I hope that you have found value in this article. If not, I bless you but I will not lose sleep over it. Okay? : )