Healing and Sleep: You’re already good enough

A couple weeks ago, a woman from the Netherlands contacted me about her insomnia.

She’s a new mother who, after a few hours of sleep, gets caught in anxiety until the alarm rings. She was bedraggled, couldn’t think, and started to fear her bedtime.

After chatting for 20 minutes, she told me she really loved everything about the program.

Except for one thing: I couldn’t guarantee that she would sleep. She wanted the non-pharmaceutical equivalent of “fall asleep every night in three easy steps.”

If only!

The paradox of my work is that focusing on a finish line keeps you perpetually in the muck.

Sleep is about letting go of the body, mind, emotions, etc. Trying to sleep is about engaging those same parts and feelings. That’s been the first pathway of my program.

Paradox of healing

What’s new to me is this: That paradox also applies to emotional personal healing.

No matter what you’re chasing — “finally being healed,” or finally having perfect sleep — it keeps you from being human and present.

I mentioned that rest is difficult when you’re bemoaning your lack of slumber. Inner healing is also difficult when it’s over there (the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow).

Over there keeps you in a perpetual cycle of internal dislike and self rejection. Here’s a thought: You’re already good enough including the parts of you that are reactive or drive you bats. Those are healing parts as well.

Creating a healing space

I learned about this paradox of healing from Matt Licata’s book, A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times. He says:

“For many of us, to ‘heal’ is to solve a problem—to remove an illness, put a trauma behind us, or change something we don’t like in our life so we never have to deal with it again.

“True healing is not a state where we become liberated from feeling… [instead we’re] freer and flexible to experience it more fully. When we experience our suffering consciously, it reveals sacredness and beauty we might not expect. Healing will always surprise us.”

When healing equals fixing yourself, the underlying presumption is that the “bad” and uncomfortable parts of yourself need to be banished.

Maybe you were raised by a parent who didn’t want you to bother her and learned to be a “good child.” Decades later, are you doing that to yourself — mad at difficult feelings interrupting your life, or not being “good” enough?

That uncomfortable part wants to be seen. It may show up as overeating, perfectionism, being “lazy,” or something else. These aren’t flaws that show you’re not okay. These inner parts are seeking healing, just like you are now.

Theory to practice

Sounds good in theory, but how do you transition from beating yourself up for scrolling at 2 AM to a healing-is-now perspective? You might try practicing a few of these suggestions from Matt Licata describe:
* Take even just 10 seconds to not abandon yourself, by connecting to your body.

* Feel held by something bigger, even feeling gravity holding you to the earth.

* Ask your body to guide you.

* Remember your inner annoying parts were smart and primitive methods to keep you safe.

See healing as a process of alchemy: Your reactive parts (like the metal lead) are held by the container of your body. You “heat” them by remembering a bigger resource, which transforms the lead into the wisdom of gold.

Treating those parts with compassion and love so they can reintegrate.

You already won the race:

Your inner parts are not fighting you, they’re on misguided quests for love. Turn that quest around by extending safety to the inner parts that feel unsafe. Extending approval to parts that disapprove.

You don’t need to break the finish tape to feel self kindness and compassion.

When you hold the parts of you that think you’re bad (or almost good) with a sprinkling of empathy, they remember the healing journey you’ve always been on.

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