Were you afraid of the dark as a child? I was. When the lights went out, every noise seemed ominous. Every creek a footstep, every knock a bony finger at your bedroom door. But what was at the root of these scary thoughts? And why did they only seem to arise after dark?
Fear of the unknown. In the dark we lose our most dominant sense – vision. Our other senses become more acute making every little sound seems significant. Its simply that you notice it, whereas when your sight is your principle sense, other senses are somewhat reduced. We have become so reliant on our eyes to tell us what is around us that when this sense is not enabled, we feel less secure. Our fear starts to rise, and begins to toy with us. As its tendrils infiltrate our thoughts, our adrenalin surges, increasing our heartrate, and making us breathe in short sharp cycles. We begin to think irrationally, because our body is behaving as though we are being threatened, so our hormones produce the necessary means to deal with a threat. It puts us in fight or flight mode.
During the hours when our body is meant to be regenerating with restorative sleep, our brain wants to keep us awake and tormented – maybe not with the fears of our childhood, but our much more tangible fears that we face in daily life. The worries that niggle away at you, during the day, grow like looming shadows as soon as we lay our heads to rest.
Some of these worries are from the mounting “to do” list that fills our waking life – from the bureaucratic demands society places on us, to keeping a roof over our heads and putting food on the table. When these lists, start to form, it is often a good idea to simply turn on a soft light for a moment and jot down the list, so that for now it’s been dealt with and you can rest while you wait for sleep to claim you.
However other worries stem from much deeper fonts of unease. Emotional turmoil, that comes from our precious relationships in life. When we feel misunderstood, or let down, by someone we love, or we have a deep and complex belief system that conflicts with that of someone we are very close to. Or it could be that we feel unappreciated, unloved or unheard. We maybe feeling rejection from a partner or a friend. These emotional “monsters” are very real to us, and when our day is done and our eyes should feel heavy with waiting sleep, they jab and poke at us keeping our tired minds active and restless, turning our thoughts around and around at a dizzying pace. The result is very similar in our bodies to the reaction we felt when we were sure the bogeyman was under our bed as a child. Fear. Stress. Anger. Anxiety. These emotions cause our nervous system to keep our heartrate elevated, pumping our blood away from our vital organs that should be receiving it to regenerate during the night, to our limbs, in readiness to fight or run – no wonder we cannot sleep, and feel so restless. Our poor brain is confused because of our emotions.
Life is so full of worries especially during our current time. It has a ripple effect on everything around us – our circumstances, our relationships, our work. We cannot stop the barrage of bureaucracy we have to deal with, nor can we change the current events taking place in the world. We cannot change how other people feel or think, or how their feelings and actions effect our own.
But what we can do, is to confront our monsters. If something is worrying you, and its something you cannot effect practically, then perhaps its shown up in your life to teach you something about yourself. Is the reason you feel rejected, unloved, unheard or let down, really because of the other party? Have you really tried to look at it from their perspective? Perhaps your perception of the way they are handling your relationship is more about you than them? Maybe you are truly justified in your feelings and they are at fault, but again why has this come up for you? Why is someone whom you love treating you the way they are? What does it tell you about yourself? Perhaps you need to be firmer, learn to say no so you don’t feel let down? Learn to speak truthfully and clearly so you don’t feel misheard? Or perhaps you need to walk away from that person, because their energy doesn’t resonate with yours, and you bring each other down? All of these answers are hard for us to face because it usually involves doing something we are not comfortable with. Admitting a flaw in our own abilities is much harder than pointing a finger the other way, especially when that admission requires an action from us to help conquer it.
Perhaps if you reflect, you will see a pattern emerge in yourself. If we keep making similar mistakes in our lives ( e.g. choosing or being attracted to unsuitable partners), then life will keep trying to show us where it is WE need to make a change in ourselves. If we keep ignoring that message, we keep finding ourselves in the same or similar situations.
We are here to learn. To become better versions of ourselves, so that we may grow and evolve as beings. We are here to learn about ourselves and about how we interact with the world we live in, and those we share our lives with.
Next time you are lying awake worrying about something that feels so much bigger than you – that huge monster, that jumps out from under your bed – ask him what he wants to show you, about yourself. Once he sees that you are not afraid but instead a willing student, that monster becomes your guide, helping you open the eyes of your inner being, so that the eyes of your outer body can close and bring you the rest you need.