My husband snores sometimes.
Back in the day, when we were newly married, this drove me crazy. I thought we were going to end up in separate bedrooms—not something I aspired to that first year (or now, for that matter.)
I would lie in bed in the middle of the night, listening to Tom snore, and feel so angry and powerless, especially if I was on call the next day. Finally, I’d give up and go out to try to sleep on the couch. The next day I’d be cranky and tired, and blame it all on Tom’s snoring.
That was then.
Recently, my husband was at work and we were chatting on the phone. “Hey,” I said, “last night you came up with some new sounds.”
“New snores, you mean?”
“Yes,” I said. “At first I thought the wind knocked over the garbage cans outside the window, but when the sound came again I realized it was just you snoring.”
After he stopped laughing, he apologized to me for keeping me up.
“Oh, you didn’t keep me up,” I said. “I was just awake. I went right back to sleep.”
This is now.
The difference? My thoughts about Tom’s snoring.
In the intervening years, I found The Work of Byron Katie. When I did a workshop with her and someone’s cell phone rang, I thought, How rude.
Katie said, “Oh, how nice, someone wants to speak to you.”
I decided to try thinking of my husband’s snores as “just a noise.” Every time he snored, I said to myself, “It’s just a noise, like the cars passing on the road. It’s just a noise.”
I realized that I had trained myself to react to my husband’s snores as if they were a personal attack. I reacted like it was some deliberate plot of the part of the Universe (or, on really bad nights, on Tom’s part) to make sure I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. And I had so much work to do! How was I going to get it all done?
Once I started telling myself the snores were just a noise, it got better. It didn’t happen overnight (get it?), but gradually I stopped reacting to my husband’s snores. Once I stopped thinking all those really charged thoughts about the snoring, I was able to go to sleep, snores or no snores.
Now my husband’s snores do not interfere with my sleep at all. Really. If he snores, it is a sound like my own breathing, or a plane flying overhead, neither good nor bad, just there.
My life and my sleep are so much better since I decided to consciously change the way I think–actually, what I think.
What is the “noise” in your life that you have turned into a personal attack on you?
Let me know in the comments.