How to Slay the Thing That Keeps You Up at Night
It happens to everyone, sometimes I think it happens to me more than it should, and that is why I’m always curious as to how people handle stress, worrying, unbalanced work schedules, demanding careers, and all the other things that make life what it is. Something is on your mind, it causes you to worry, and no matter how you try to redirect your mind, before you know it, that thing has crept back in and is trying to control you. It’s not something that needs to happen. It really shouldn’t for your mental, emotional, and physical health. So how do you slay that thing that keeps you up at night?
For me it is a combination of things, such as relaxation techniques, exercise, laughing as much as possible, living in gratitude, and lots of prayer. Yet, there are those times at night when nothing can keep it at bay and I have found something that helps and it really is quite simple. I write in my journal.
I start off with a list of things I’m truly grateful for and it ranges from the smallest to the most obvious. Then I write down what is on my heart. Usually it can be more than one thing, for I tend to take on a lot of things at once and then life throws in my fair share of life lessons on top of that. So, I make a quick list of the things on my heart and start off with the thing that has been dominating my thoughts no matter how hard I try to stop it.
After the list of heart heavy topics, I analyze the main dragon of a thing to the point that there is nothing left to think about and here is how I do it:
I list the bad things that could happen. I list how I will move forward from the worst scenario. I don’t give that much thought or time, I move quickly through it. Much of the time it is just recording what has been going through my thoughts — all the “what if” scenarios.
Then it is on to the more productive part of the entire exercise — I write down every single little good thing that can come of the “what if” moments. I seek to discover what underlying silver lining could be associated with the storm cloud that’s over me. I’ll be honest, sometimes I have to reach hard to find things. Sometimes there is nothing in it good for me, but there is always something that is good that I can find to connect to the outcome I want to avoid.
Finally, I get to the real important ending. I write down what outcome could favor me. I ponder over the situation and try to discover if there is anything more that I can do to get a favorable outcome. Sometimes there is and I write that down and know that I’ll work hard on that the next day. Sometimes there is nothing I can do, nothing more to be done to bring the situation to a close and a positive result. It is then that I surrender.
I surrender my worry. I surrender my thoughts, for there is nothing more to be done than wait. I remind myself that there have been other times I’ve been here at a critical moment and I moved on. It may have changed me, but it didn’t break me. There are times when something fabulous came into my life after walking out of the ashes. There have been moments of new direction, self-evaluating, and renewal all due to something difficult occurring that I could not control. Sometimes I merely survived, and that is enough in itself.
It is in the realization that I’ve analyzed the situation, found the possible outcomes, have an acceptance plan in place for whatever happens, and that I know it is out of my hands, that I find peace to let go.
It’s hard. I’m a planning beast. I like to have things in a row, to follow the right path of preparation for a positive outcome both personally and professionally. So, it’s hard when things happen in which no matter how much I know they should be otherwise, they are out of my control. When the day quiets down and there is little else to get my attention, it is then that my thoughts can be occupied by a worry. Then I journal and follow the process I outlined above.
I do it for me. I do it for those I love and need my attention and that deserve my best self. I do it for friends, family, my business, and my community that matter so much to me.
Your corner of the world needs you at your best. Your family, friends, career, and community need you to slay that thing that wants to exhaust you, drain your strength, and weaken you. Don’t let it. Pull out a pen and paper, get out that journal you never used, grab a napkin, the back of an envelope, whatever you have at hand. Start writing, and slay that dragon of a thing that needs to be quieted. Then take a deep breath and exhale. Sink deep into a state of gratitude and prayer. That’s all you can do for now…and that’s enough.