SEETHING WITH ANGER?
It's practically impossible to sleep while you're seething with anger. And there are many difficult times in life - and difficult people - who can make us downright furious. If you're seething with anger, here are some ways to help get that anger out of your system enough so you can get some sleep.
To help you relax, calm down and be receptive to what we offer in this segment, we suggest you start with a few relaxation breaths. Takes just a minute and really helps. Here we go...
Take a deep, deep breath through your nose. Deeeeep - and slow - and release it slowly through your pursed lips - like blowing a kiss - all the way out... TWO
Once more - another deep, deep breath - in through your nose - count up to 8 - Sit up straight so you can fill your lungs all the way to the bottom - and very slowly, very gently - out through your pursed lips as you count down from 8...Close your eyes, relax your muscles and allow the tension to leave your body.
And one more deeeeep breath - in through your nose - and - blow kiss - out slowly and gently through your pursed lips. And relax your muscles - all over - every muscle - just relaaaax - like butter - like crusty, old snow melting on a warm, sunny day - from the tip of your head to the tip of your toes.
Feel a bit better? We hope so. Now we're ready to begin.
Here is a truly effective way to deal with upsets: Take out a paper and a pen or pencil (ok - your computer). (If you really do this, you will find it quite helpful. If you don't actually physically do it, it's not going to help you much.)
Write down everything you can think of that's on your mind that's upsetting you or bothering you. To help yourself make an effective list, you might say a statement like: "I am feeling bothered by:...." and complete that sentence with a list of as many issues as you can think of - including things that at first you don't consider the issue.
Sometimes you're unaware that something is bothering you. The only symptom is that you're having trouble with sleep. If this might be the case with you, one of the best ways to help yourself is to try and raise the issues to consciousness and work through the difficulties so that they are not left inside you where they fester and gnaw at you and aggravate your life on many levels.
So after you've covered the obvious things on your list, if they don't quite "click" with you as being the answer here - as being the thing that's keeping you awake - keep going ‘til you come up with some things that perhaps are tucked into the back of your mind - or under the surface - that are bothering you - perhaps things that you're reluctant to think about or acknowledge.
For instance, let's say that your in-laws are coming for the holidays - and even though you like them - or perhaps you don't like them, but you believe in family values and therefore are willing to put up with their presence during such times - they present all kinds of problems for you. So your feelings are mixed - on the one hand you look forward to seeing them and you'd like the visit to go well but on the other hand you've got to brace yourself to deal with them and their problematic ways. Perhaps you weren't aware how much their impending arrival upsets you - even though you also like them - or like some things about them.
So your feelings are mixed and you have found it difficult to acknowledge the negative aspects or the worrisome part of the situation. Or, let's say that your boss - or someone else important in your life - said something annoying or hostile or insulting recently. It wasn't direct but now you wonder what was really meant by the comment and it's bothering you - because it has implications for your well-being. So it's logical you'd be upset about it - even if it was presented as something small and offhand at the time and therefore you didn't pay much attention - until now - when you see that it might be a reason why you're having trouble sleeping. That is, this seemingly little thing has affected you more than you thought.
Be sure to put hidden tensions and upsets like that on your list. The most important items are the ones that start out hidden - that you have to ferret out from the back of your mind. You'll get to these issues faster if you actually write down - in black and white - all the problems confronting you - especially, as we say, the hidden ones.
You might try completing this sentence: "In truth, under the surface, I see now that I am also bothered by...." - and write down every issue that comes to mind that might be bothering you - under the surface.
Once you've got your list of all the problems confronting you - even teeny tiny ones - and especially hidden ones - take each issue and write a list of coping actions you could do to help resolve each problem. Or, if not resolve it - perhaps it's not that easily resolved - at least cope with it.
Taking the example above, if you're bracing yourself for an onslaught of relatives, your list of resolutions might include: Making sure that they're occupied with things to do that take them away from the house; or, maybe making sure that YOU'RE occupied with things that take YOU away from the house. Or, in the case of someone important, like a boss, saying something offhand but hurtful to you, you might consider discussing the issue with that person in a non-threatening, constructive manner.
Now some of the coping actions on your list might present other problems - such as the item we just mentioned - creating activities that take either your relatives or yourself away from the house - as perhaps your spouse might not think that's a great solution. Ok - write down that secondary problem, too, and a coping action for that problem.
For instance, in the case of an unhappy spouse, you could discuss your feelings and strategy with your spouse beforehand so you can get cooperation, or, on the other hand, perhaps it would be better if you DIDN'T discuss the problem beforehand. In the case of discussing your upset with your boss, if you've recently asked for a raise, you might want to put off bringing up the sticky issue until a better time.
THE POINT HERE
The point is to get all the options out of your head and onto paper in black and white - so you can view them and assess the pros and cons of each.
LIST COMPLICATIONS AND COPING STRATEGIES
In this fashion you're going to come up with a list of coping strategies for each problem that's upsetting you. Make the list as complete as you can. Anticipate every secondary complication you can and include coping strategies for each complication - all the way down the list - ‘til you've exhausted the possibilities you can think of - for now.
It's pretty much guaranteed that when you get back into bed you'll think of some more problems or coping strategies, so you might as well take that list with you and leave it next to your bed, so you can add to it as things come up - without having to get out of bed. (Don't forget to take the pen, too!)
Now look at each of your coping actions. Do you feel confident they will bring a resolution to your problem? Do you feel there are complications to them? Then write down those complications and also note the worst that could happen as a result of that action as well as the best that could happen as a result of that action.
CREATE A CHART TO HELP YOU VISUALIZE THE SITUATION
You might also draw a chart with two columns: Positive aspects of an action and negative aspects. Fill in every single detail you can in either column. Now assess the situation while looking at your chart. In this way, you'll have some sense of what the best course of action, ultimately, will be. This process works for all kinds of problems - Should I take that new job? Should we sell the house? Should I leave my relationship? Should I sue the landlord? Should I go to Paris or the Adirondaks?, etc. The more honest you are with yourself - the more effective this process will be for you.
WHEN YOU'RE VERY ANGRY
Now then, let us say that one of the things that's upsetting you is that someone has done something that makes you angry - very angry - In fact you're fuming - and that's a major reason why you're awake right now. You just can't get this thing out of your mind. You'd like to really give that person a piece of your mind, but that's not practical at the moment - as in the case of the boss above.
WRITE YOUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
Here's what you can do to give yourself some relief: Write a letter to that person, stating exactly what he or she did that upset you and why it was so upsetting. And here's the key thing - tell them off in the strongest terms possible - no holds barred - let ‘em have it right between the eyes - mince no words - you must be as blunt as possible.
And you can do this with impunity because you must also resolve - before you write the letter - to throw it away in the morning! You will not send this letter, no matter what - you're not allowed to send it - or the exercise won't help you with your insomnia - because you'll start thinking about all the repercussions of sending the letter - and that will keep you awake longer yet.
Now then, in the morning, if it seems to you that a letter would be an appropriate way to express your feelings and might lead to a positive resolution of the problem, then you can re-write this letter, explaining what this person did that upset you and the effect it had on you - and then suggesting a positive resolution. Do not throw in all the rage and insults you wrote the night before. That was just an exercise to get your feelings out of your system - where they're disrupting your sleep - and onto paper - where you can examine them, acknowledge them and experience them - and then deal with them in a mature and constructive manner. Your mature-self - the self that runs your life in the most positive way possible - wants only to write a letter that will ultimately help you - not one that might hurt you down the line or cause retribution from someone.
A similar exercise is to write down - or imagine - all the terrible things you'd like to do to someone who has hurt you. Assuming that you're not normally a physically aggressive type of person, you can let your imagination go - be as brutal as you wish - even murderous. Because it's only a fantasy. And after you've dispatched your nemesis - in your mind - you might feel a bit of relief. And you can always bring back that image, any time you start feeling upset again. It's actually a healthy way to deal with your hostility toward someone who has hurt you - so long as you don't act on your wishes - and so long as your fantasy serves to ultimately bring you closer to a sense of resolution and peace about the issue.
WHEN YOU ARE UPSET WITH YOURSELF
Now then - what if the upsetting thing that happened is that you yourself did something you wish you hadn't done - perhaps said something hurtful or out of place - or did something hurtful? - even if you didn't mean it - or maybe you did mean it. We don't always behave in a perfect manner - and some of us know when we've misbehaved. Also, sometimes we have to fire someone we like and we feel sorrow for having had to do that. Or, we need to break up with someone we like, but with whom the relationship is not working - or we have to deliver unfortunate news to someone, news that is hurtful or shocking, and we feel badly when that happens.
If you're feeling badly because of your behavior and that's keeping you awake, there are things you can do to help yourself get some sleep. You can start by acknowledging to yourself that what you did was painful to the other person. If it was something necessary - like firing someone you like - or having to give bad news to someone - then you can comfort yourself by writing down all the reasons why you had to do this. You might also want to note all the positive aspects of this action that will ultimately be beneficial to that person. Perhaps it is best for him that he was fired and now must deal with the underlying issues involved in that. Or, in the case of bad news, the person is perhaps better off knowing the bad news, than not knowing. You can give yourself comfort by being totally honest as you write down your assessment of the situation and the implications. Try not to rationalize yourself off the hook, though - because ultimately that won't help you much.
If your behavior was not so great you will feel better by acknowledging your true assessment of that behavior: It takes a strong person - and a very good person - perhaps even a great person - to admit that "What I did was hurtful, even though I didn't mean it to be, or didn't want it to be," or, maybe, that "What I did, in truth, was mean and rotten."
Next step is to think of ways you can make the situation better. Is an apology called for? Should you offer further explanations? - or comfort? Or perhaps send a gift? - flowers? Maybe a phone call or a note expressing your feelings would be the best way to handle the problem. Once again, write down all of your options and all the repercussions of each one and that will help you assess the best action to take. You'll feel much better once you've acknowledged your true assessment of your behavior and have decided on a positive course of action. You can always change your decision in the morning, but for the time being, having a plan will help calm you down and give you some peace of mind. And you'll know that you're a better person for having done this. And that is a good thing.
The world is a better place when people behave decently and with integrity - and when people attempt to right the wrongs they have perpetrated on others.
We wish you Pleasant Dreams!
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