Last night, I went to sleep early. Or at least, earlier than usual.
No biggie, right? You’re tired, you go to bed.
Except that I’ve been battling with this for… decades!
When I was a child I was forced to go to bed obscenely early. Six o’clock as a kiddie and 8 o’clock as an older kid. The one exception was Christmas Day, when I was allowed to stay up until 9 o’clock. Woohoo!
The bed was only 2 ft 6 ins wide, so as I grew it was like being imprisoned. And I was an extremely active, run-jump-climb kind of kid, so it was an excruciating experience!
The worst of the worst came in summer. As I lay in my narrow bed in broad sunny daylight, I had to listen to the sounds of my friends playing and having fun outside. Torture.
Not surprisingly, therefore, I associate going to bed with punishment and deprivation. Even though I love sleeping. So I delay going to bed as much as possible, and then I can’t get myself out of bed in the morning. Even worse, every night I tell myself a completely fictitious story that it’s okay, I’ll be able to get up fine tomorrow. Wrong!
So what was different yesterday? I had a realisation.
I’d been aware for a long time that I was not behaving in my own best interests (not unusual in my life’s story!) but yesterday I saw it differently. A reframe you could call it.
I saw that if I don’t pay attention to my desires, I’m creating a cause for other people in my life to not pay much attention to them, either. Here I was, a person with a heartfelt desire to lie down and go to sleep. A desire that I ignored and delayed responding to for AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. Not kind.
And furthermore, I saw that if I don’t pay attention to what I need, it builds up an expectation in my mind that other people are also going to deny me. That becomes my expectation of life, in fact.
It’ll be interesting to see how this evolves moving into the future. But in the meantime, I’m mentally giving myself a high five for yesterday’s change. It felt good. And it felt right. Plus eight hours of sleep felt awesome!
Perhaps you’d like to share your own experience of a reframe leading to a behaviour change below…