Insomnia Fighters - How To Sleep When You Have Money Worries
Excerpt from "How to sleep without pills"
Mrs. D., normally an optimistic girl, was married to an ambitious young man who owned a small ice cream and confectionery shop which he was determined to build into something substantial. Long hours in the store, however, yielded only dribs and drabs of money. There always seemed to be the question of whether they could hold out or whether they would lose the store.
After six years of scrimping, with three children now to take care of, Mrs. D. found that thoughts of money seemed to color her whole life. The slightest financial setback was enough to make her lie awake contemplating their bad luck.
These incidents were trivial, as Mrs. D. would be the first to admit, but each one seemed the last straw. A library book fell in a mud puddle and she had to pay for it; that night she lay awake translating the money she had paid for the book into shoes and food for the children. A glove got lost, a storekeeper overcharged her a nickel, the gas bill arrived; these were enough to send her into sloughs of despondency resulting in sleepless nights.
Worrying over money has probably kept more people awake than any other single cause. People who have money worry over losing it; people who have no money worry about acquiring it.
The millionaire who loses half his fortune probably suffers as acutely as the father of six children who loses his job. Perhaps he suffers more. During the stock market crash, it was the millionaires who jumped from tall office buildings when they were wiped out. Yet, bankrupt though they were, they were no poorer than the average working man without savings who laughs at the idea of suicide.
The whole idea of wealth is relative. It is an old adage that no matter how badly off you are, there are people who aspire to your position. Millions of people in Europe and Asia would trade places with the poorest American citizen. I told this to Mrs. D., and pointed out that in India, where they gather the starved dead from the streets as a routine task each morning, there would be riots for the privilege of getting the contents of her garbage can. I told her also that a Hungarian woman might envy Mrs. D. her peace of mind at not having to worry about her husband's being removed some night by the secret police.
Being poor, even in America, is a serious thing, and we should all make strenuous and intelligent efforts to gain security. But worrying will only impair those efforts and sleeplessness will make success far more difficult to achieve.
When I explained these truths to Mrs. D., she was more angry than impressed. "Look, I know there are people worse off than I am," she said, "but that doesn't put food on my table or put me to sleep at night. Should I go around all day singing because I don't have enough money?" she added belligerently.
In a sense, I answered her, that is exactly what she should do. Go around singing! Why not? Going around sorrowing was only driving her toward a nervous breakdown.
But before Mrs. D. could go around singing she had to be taught the habit of positive thinking. To do this I had her make a list of the assets and liabilities of her life. The assets were as follows: Her children were normal and healthy. Her husband was healthy. She was healthy. Her husband loved her. Her husband was well liked. She was well liked. She had many friends. Her children were smart in school. Her husband was still a young man.
Against these assets was the liability of being poor. Being poor was their only liability. If they had money, Mrs. D. said—and it wouldn't take much—everything would be fine. Being poor worried Mrs. D. and caused her sleepless nights because, as she wrote down: They weren't getting ahead—that is, saving money. It looked as if they would always be poor. They had no money should an emergency occur. They had no money set aside for the children's college education. None of them had had new clothes for a long time. She was tired of scrimping and counting every penny. She couldn't entertain her friends properly. They might lose the business. They might not have enough to pay the bills next month. Most of Mrs. D's worry over money resulted not from a lack of money to meet their immediate needs, but from fear of not being able to meet their needs in the future.
Many of these fears might never be realized. Yet if Mrs. D. allowed her thinking to make her a fear-ridden neurotic about money and an anchor instead of an inspiration to her husband, all these fears might be realized, for defeatism like Mrs. D's is contagious.
I instructed Mrs. D. to think of her assets instead of her money worries. While she was baking a cake, she was to stop thinking, "We'll never have money for the children's college education," and instead think, "I am fortunate to have such healthy children," or, "I am fortunate to have such a fine husband."
This is conditioned thinking, and until you acquire the unconscious habit of thinking this way, you have to do it consciously. There is no other cure for worry. Worry, like any other habit, can be cured only by having another habit substituted for it: the habit of positive thinking.
In addition to instructing Mrs. D. to acquire deliberately the habit of positive thinking, I got her to learn the ABC Round Robin and the Sleep Exercise. I taught her to take advantage of lapses in the day's activities to enjoy fifteen or twenty minutes of relaxing sleep.
She turned out to be an apt pupil once she saw that there was no desirable alternative to the course I presented to her. To her amazement she found that when she forced herself to think of the good things of her life, she felt elated. Mrs. D. no longer spends hours worrying over money when she should be sleeping. As a result, she is better equipped to help her husband make the decisions necessary to earn more money.
To sleep when you have money worries:
- Don't count sheep; count your blessings. Itemize on a sheet of paper all the good things there are in your life. If you are so down in the dumps that you can't think of any, begin by thinking of a neighbor with whom you wouldn't trade places. For instance, Mrs. R., who is well-to-do, but whose child is not normal. Or Mr. Z., who has a nagging wife. Or Mrs. Y., whose husband drinks. Then put down as a blessing, "My child is normal and healthy," or "I have an understanding wife," or "My husband doesn't drink."
- Set aside definite periods for discussions of finances. Give yourself all the time you need to consider a given prob- lem adequately, but do not allow yourself to think about money at any other time. When you catch yourself thinking negatively about money, force yourself to think about how well-off you are, by repeating your list of assets. Do this faith fully; it is bound to make you feel better.
- Learn the ABC Round Robin. Use it to make yourself relax whenever you have a few spare minutes during the day. If you are optimistic and relaxed during the day, you will automatically sleep better at night.
- Learn the Sleep Exercise and use it after the Robin at night to put yourself to sleep. Just as you are about to drop off to sleep, repeat some of your blessings. You will be amazed at how much happier you will be when you wake up.
- Remember: Although poverty is unpleasant, and al though no normal person wants to be poor, you must think constructively, instead of bemoaning your poverty. Cultivate an optimistic frame of mind and you have gone a long way toward improving your condition.
From Lost Manuscripts Library
About the author
ABC Round Robin and Sleep Exercise and more are included in "How To Sleep Without Pills"
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Mike Slawomir Cecotka - Publisher
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