One Technique That Helps With Insomnia
I don’t usually have problems getting to sleep, but I can often wake up in the night, and the quiet means my mind has free reign to think about all the things I didn’t think about in the day, because I was busy.
One technique that helps me get back to sleep and stops my mind chattering is taken from Internal Family Systems therapy.
It’s based on the premise that we have parts inside us. Often these parts have been formed in childhood, to adapt to various situations, or taken from our culture and how we are forced to socialise.
Some of these parts have a function to keep us safe. IFS calls these Protectors. They are often protecting the inner child parts of us that they call Exiles. These protectors don’t know that we have grown up now and are still doing their job to protect us, even if their process is outdated.
Take for instance, we probably have a part of us that tells us not to talk with our mouth full, or not to speak back to a policeman. You get the drift. It keeps us in line.
For some of us that part can be relentless and tormenting, if people in our lives were hard on us, we have internalised these voices.
What we can do is show those parts compassion, in order to appreciate their job within us. We don’t have to fight those inner parts or get rid of them, which is what we might have a tendency to want to do.
At night when I wake up, I notice what part is talking, its usually the worrier, so I centre myself, drop into my heart, and thank that part for worrying for me. I tell her she’s been doing that for many years and taken so much on her shoulders, and thank you for keeping me safe. But “I got this”, she can let go for a bit and let me sort things.
Often she’s only too glad to do this, but only if she knows that you’re not going to drop the ball.
I may notice other parts inside me coming up in response to this conversation, like there might be a part that says, “you’re not strong enough to sort this”, I tell that part that I have resources now that she may not know about, like I could call in any number of deities. I send these parts love, like I would feel about a child or a pet.
The goal is not to disarm the protectors to get to the exiles they are protecting, but to just give them some time off so I can get back to sleep.
Usually somewhere in this process I have such huge relaxation, my mind calms down and I’m back to sleep in no time. Often in a much deeper sleep than if I hadn’t done the process.
Do you have a process that helps you get to sleep?
Postscript 2021: I have since learned Focusing and this deals with parts and being kind to them.