Relationship Advice Tips from Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

pink20rain20lily - How To Update Failed Relationship Rules That Cause Insomnia

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Are your relationships suffering because you are sleep deprived? Are you on edge, frustrated and impatient with your friends and loved ones because you aren’t able to get your usual amount of restful peaceful sleep?

It’s most likely to be the other way round.

Your difficulty sleeping is probably due to some deep ingrained beliefs you have about relationships that are being defied. When your automatic rules about relationships are challenged it creates stress in your body , disrupting your normal cycle of rest and wakefulness.

Your relationship rules are so much a part of you that you can’t put words to it, and only realize something is wrong when you can’t sleep – when your peace is wrecked.

Bringing those rules out into the open and getting to know them is the first and most essential step in harmonizing your connections so that you are settled and able to sleep. It is as if the disturbance forces you to examine your ancient relationship expectations that no longer fit your present circumstances.

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photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Flynn hadn’t slept for six nights running and was out of his mind with frustration and anger. He hated not being able to get his body to respond to his commands. He hated having to stay awake while thinking and feeling things that made him impatient and dismissive.

Thoughts of being taken advantage of by his boss rolled around in his head. He worried about being inadequate for his girlfriend by spending so much time in the office. Flynn’s chest tightened and his breathing nearly stopped as he felt his whole world of work and domestic romantic bliss crumbling around him.  Uncertainty in his significant relationships made him stressed and insecure.

Flynn’s worries and fears were masked with the everyday roles he played as conscientious employee and partner to his girlfriend, as well as his hectic social life. The only time they came screaming out at him was when he was unable to sleep. Then he would feel his rage at his boss and Gina for not doing what they were supposed to do according to his ancient ritualistic relationship rules.

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photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

What were the magic rules that were being flouted causing Flynn to lose sleep?

Flynn discovered that that he expected his boss to notice when he was tired or sick, and adjust his work demands. He suffered insomnia when the rule wasn’t obeyed.

He expected his boss to realize what his limits were and not test them. Insomnia resulted when the rule was ignored.

Flynn believed that Gina should repeatedly tell him that she wouldn’t leave him if he spent a lot of evenings at work. Insomnia was the outcome when this rule was broken.

Flynn needed Gina to prove to him that he didn’t have to choose between pleasing his boss and pleasing her. Insomnia dogged him when this rule was ditched.

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photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Flynn gave others the authority to steer, brake and accelerate his emotions, resulting in sleep problems when they didn’t take the wheel!

Flynn also believed that he should not speak up, check in with his boss, friends or loved ones, because it was their job to get him off the hook, take the pressure off and reassure him that he was lovable and worthy of their care.

In a nutshell Flynn’s hidden rule was that his boss and Gina were to steer him, and press his accelerator and or brake pedals as needed. He gave them the authority to dictate his feelings and actions within their relationships. But they didn’t  know that or want the job.  Long periods of insomnia followed when his big rule was not acted on.

Old rigid and unspoken rules give way to new mutually respectful expectations

These rules were the ones he had lived by when he was growing up with a moody unpredictable mother and uninvolved father. In order to keep the peace Flynn gave over control of himself to his mother so that she didn’t lash out and change on him in the blink of an eye. By not making his needs known he hoped to pique his father’s interest, and occasionally it did. But now these rules were obsolete and destructive. Only Flynn didn’t know it until he started having bouts of insomnia and began therapy.

Flynn was astounded when he completed his picture of relationship rules that he believed were universal between people, just as they were in his family.

So his anger and disappointment at learning that he was the only one aware of these rules and the only one following them was understandable. He felt betrayed when he realized that he was in this alone. But he was also motivated to begin steering his own emotional car and learn how and when to press his own pedals to manage his boundaries without fear of disconnection or loss of relationship.

In order to take charge of his own emotional vehicle Flynn had to learn to speak up. He had to get in touch with his needs and limits, his preferences and his wishes. He had to set his own boundaries and not expect others to do it for him. He had to ask for and take what he wanted, rather than allow chaos to rob him of sleep when others didn’t know and satisfy him.

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photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Flynn learned a new rule that brought peace and normal sleep patterns.

‘Speak clearly and honestly to yourself about what you want or don’t want, and then tell those around you about it in the moment you are aware of it.’

As soon as Flynn stopped using his outdated rules that only he knew about, he had a new discourse with his boss and Gina. He was surprised that they didn’t behave like his moody mother or unfeeling father. They respected his moment to moment experience and ironically they were more in tune with him, giving him the care he craved. Harmony and peace became a more natural rhythm, and Flynn was able to regain his restful sleep cycles.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

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Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not responsible for any reactions you may have when reading the content or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.