Anger Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships by Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

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Sleep Deprivation May Cost Meredith her Job

The future of Meredith’s business depended on one simple thing. Getting a good night’s sleep. If she wasn’t on the ball, she would lose the marketing contract for a prestigious corporate firm. There was no way Meredith was going to let that happen. She couldn’t afford to jeopardize her image as the whiz that put the “wow” factor into her designs.

Mistakes Piled up As Meredith Slowed Down

Simple jobs that took fifteen minutes now seemed to take over two hours and slowed down the entire creative process. Colleagues withdrew as she became increasingly irritable and impatient. Meredith tried to compensate by putting in longer hours but that made matters worse. Her work load increased as mistakes piled up. She had to face the fact that her erratic sleep pattern was having a disastrous effect on her performance.

The Fight To Be In Control Of Sleep

Bad habits were the first under attack. No more caffeine after 5:00 p.m. No more eating or drinking four hours before bed time. No more watching television or working in bed. Meredith followed these sleep hygiene rules with meticulous precision. That made her feel in charge as she imagined herself on top of her game at work.

Frustration When Nothing Worked

But sleep didn’t come. Every minute that Meredith stayed awake seemed like an hour and each hour made her cry with frustration. It was so annoying that all her ‘good behavior’ went unrewarded. Self-help books, radio docs and alternative medicine gurus recommended meditation, exercise, natural supplements, herbal teas, acupuncture and ‘giving up’ the desire to sleep! None of them did the trick. The only thing left were prescription meds. The thought of getting addicted and dealing with a bunch of unknown side effects was a lot scarier than dealing with sleep deprivation.

Meredith Faces Her Biggest Fear – Failure

Horror movies played out in Meredith’s imagination as she strove to get through those unbearably slow nights. The feature film title was failure. She won the Oscar for her masterful characterizations of losers and dummies, while Anxiety and fear won for best producer and director.

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Anxiety Gripped Her Mind and Body

The big day arrived. The day she had to put together the final design proposal. Meredith couldn’t get out of bed. She was in a paralytic stupor, her heart was pounding and her hands and feet sweated. Her body refused to budge. No amount of urging herself to ‘get over it ‘relieved the extreme anxiety that gripped her mind and body. Shamefully she called her partner with the news that she couldn’t make it to the meeting.

The Slave Driver  Perfectionist Voice Breaks Meredith’s Emotional Skeleton

Meredith was indeed sick. Her difficulty sleeping and staying asleep through the night was a red flag that something was wrong. The foundation supporting the A-plus performance had been collapsing for some time. Her emotional muscles had cramped and seized long ago but she bypassed their messages. The only voice she heard was “you have to do everything right, all the time, or else you are a failure.” Without muscles to operate the bones, her emotional skeleton fractured. She became irritable, snappy and a pain to work with. Yet Meredith insisted on listening only to that rigid voice ” you must be better than everyone else, or you are just a waste of space.” She worked longer, harder and forced herself to try and sleep.

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Photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.


Meredith Finally Gets the Message

The inability to flip the switch to sleep mode made her furious. That’s why her eyes stayed open. It was the only weapon guaranteed to make her ‘see.’ It worked. She got the message that she couldn’t treat her mind and body as slaves to some ideal without killing them off.

Accepting Her Limitations

The accumulation of disrupted sleep, paralysis and anxiety attacks gave Meredith a large dose of exactly what she couldn’t tolerate in herself – frailty, weakness and lack of control. Her inflexible demands and unrealistic expectations came crashing down. A major reconfiguration was underway whether she liked it or not. She learned to accept her human limitations the hard way.

Anxiety Leads To Sleep Problems

Sleep problems are often due to anxiety. The anxiety comes from unreasonable expectations of your performance within relationships and at work. Worry about creating a bad impression or losing someone important become a vicious cycle of anxiety and fear. Your energies are diverted to deal with the anxiety leaving you bereft of your inspiration, intelligence, and inventiveness – and of course sleep. If you want to be a winner and get a good night’s sleep, delineate your specific job and keep it under your direct control, then execute it to the best of your ability.

Getting the Mind and Body in Synch

Taking on the appropriate load allows your body and mind to give you optimal performance. There is a hidden bonus. When your mind and body are in synch you radiate a confidence that increases the ‘wow’ response from your clients.