Picture this scenario: it’s late, given however instead of sleeping, we stay awake. The following day, obviously, we feel drowsy and tired and miserable so we promise ourselves that we’ll go to sleep early. At that point it happens once more: it’s now 12 PM and we have an important day ahead of us but we still don’t sleep. It isn’t so much that we are full of energy – we really feel hopelessly drained – yet we refuse to sleep. The next day, the cycle continues.
We constantly feel frustrated at this. We insult ourselves announcing that we are too stupid, stubborn, and idiotic to help ourselves and go to bed. At this point, we add self-disgust to our present exhaustion. But this anger that we feel toward ourselves does not really help us change our ways. It might seem logical to self criticize in these moments but that doesn’t actually help. All it does is induce panic and shame about the situation. It’s one of the most counterintuitive things that we do as humans: To have a complete understanding that we’re doing something terribly wrong and yet that doesn’t make us stop.
The better approach would be to use curiosity. It may seem like a bad way to solve the problem but we should take some time to ask ourselves: why are we staying up late?,What’s nice about it? I believe that the answer is linked to our childhood. When we were young the night seemed to be a place of mystery and wonder. We could hear the grownups talking at the dinner table about stuff we weren’t allowed to hear. Or maybe when we became students the night was the time when parties became wild, when friends opened up more on their plans for the future and when poets found their inspiration. While these associations may not be what we consciously think about, the feelings that we associate with the night are ever present in our subconscious.
With this information we can criticize ourselves with a more tender heart knowing that were are not idiots; we’re just looking for the feelings that we would associate with nighttime. And the problem is not that we’re looking for these thrills, it’s that we won’t find them in this way. The sense of discovery and adventure are not bound by the time in which the moon is in the sky. They are aspirations that require our fully energized, well-rested selves to find.