How nap insomnia is like performance anxiety

Have you ever struggled with insomnia? It’s terrible. I had a recent bout of nap insomnia – which may not sound that bad. But sleep has been rough with our one year old and so I've been desperate to catch up on sleep whenever I have a spare moment.

I would carve out a time in my schedule – sacred nap time for both me and Loki. I’d lay down, so tired, ready to sleep.

And then my brain would spin.

And spin.

And I’d feel a fight happening in my body.

One part absolutely dying for this nap, counting the passing minutes, knowing that I was squandering my available sleep window.

Another part of me hating this plan. This part wanted me up and working. Writing blog posts. Practicing music. Updating my website. Washing dishes. Prepping dinner. Doing yoga.

I mean, the list of possible actions instead of napping are endless.

My napper just couldn’t compete with the part of me that wanted to get sh*t done.

It was an inner war and it never ended well for either side.

This kind of inner battle is similar to what many people experience in performance anxiety.

There is one part of you that really wants to perform. You love the music! You love the show! You love the people! You love the limelight! You love success!

Then there is the other part of you…
…that is afraid of failure. Afraid of making a mistake. Afraid of being discovered as a fraud. Not trusting your memory. Not trusting your technique. Afraid of [fill in the blank....].

It’s a challenging place to be, because you are experiencing strong conflicting desires.

This is normal and human. We all experience conflicting desires in one way or another. Performance anxiety just happens to be a very dramatic conflict.

Alas, there are no quick tricks to solving inner battles, or to solving performance anxiety. Wouldn't it be nice if this one blog post could resolve these anxieties for you, once and for all? That we could all wave our magic wands and make the uncomfortable feelings disappear? I so wish this!

But what can help is to recognize that the performance anxiety is only a Part of you, not all of you. Studies show that creating a little space around our feelings, not fully identifying with them, helps us gain perspective and to heal those big emotions. Calling these emotions or desires "Parts" often helps with the separation."Part of me can't wait to be onstage! Another Part of me is so worried about remembering my lines. Yet another Part of me is so tired and just wants to take a nap."

Identifying what or who those parts are is another way to create a little space and separation. "My Tired Part wants to avoid all the stress, I'm pulled in too many directions and can't focus. My Fearful Part remembers the time that I did forget my lines, it was terrible. My Artist Part loves the synergy and rush of adrenaline and being in flow."

Doing a little journaling and getting curious about these conflicting desires will go even farther. More on that step in the next blog post.

Until then, the next time you sense a big inner battle, take a breath, and see if you can isolate the different voices or desires that are in conflict and know that you are taking a step towards healing some of the internal conflict that is part of being human.