Wednesday, 4 January 2012

I couldn't sleep last night!

As a child, I couldn't sleep. We didn't have technology like cellphones and laptops to keep us busy all hours of the night, so I sat for hours at the window looking out at the garden. I shared a room with my older sister and sometimes my movement in bed would wake her up. She always thought I was mad, but I feared disturbing my parents and didn't dare to leave the room. Where would I go, anyway? What would be the point of sitting in the dark lounge? 

I was fascinated with the shadows and the movement of wind-affected things, like a wrestling shrub, a swaying tree or a plastic bag dancing in the street. I watched stray dogs and cats and sometimes caught the glimpse of a bat flying across the dark sky. There was life outside in the garden and I was fascinated by it. Even the night sky with the moon, clouds and stars kept me intrigued for hours.

Throughout my life, I've climbed into bed with the hope of sleeping until the next morning. Sadly, I always sleep for a while then wake up and lie awake for hours on end. I blame it on my restless mind. I've spent a lot of time wondering about the cause of this restlessness. Specific thoughts wake me up. Thoughts that move through my mind will not affect me, but because I allow myself to dwell on one specific thought, I find no peace of mind. Louisa May Alcott once said, "A man may dwell so long upon a thought that it may take him prisoner." I am more often a prisoner of my thoughts than I wish to admit. I allow a thought to linger. By repeatedly thinking about it, I allow it to settle in my subconscious mind. It takes root and I nourish it with attention. With all the attention it gets, it gains strength and affects me in so many ways.

Thoughts are incredibly powerful and when repeated, these thoughts eventually influence attitude, words, actions, life and other people. My motto for many years has been: "We are what we constantly think". So, yes, I believe repeated thoughts shape my life. I can waste a lot of energy and time on useless negative thoughts, but I can also control my mind and decide which thoughts to keep and which to reject.

Having control doesn't mean I always apply it. I still spend a lot of time and energy on negative thoughts. Why? The answer is simple. Emotions and feelings energize thoughts, and give them power. In my life, one of my greatest motivators is fear. I allow fear to control my heart. This is communicated to my mind and fear filters into my thoughts. Because I constantly fear the negative consequences of certain activities in my life, I end up losing quality sleep. 

Lately, I've been trying to focus all my energy and time on making decisions that are not based on fear. I'm also trying to stop worrying about negative consequences, focusing more on the positive consequences. The outcome is that my sleeping pattern has improved.

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