To Heal Her Insomnia, Does She Have to Understand Her Deepest Fears?

This question raises some important issues about the importance of insight in changing patterns, symptoms and behavior.


Hi BellRuth (sic), I believe my insomnia comes from deep rooted fears, so I believe I would have to have a cd that addresses fears/ or lack of. Which CD do you suggest?1 I do not fear leaving the house.


Dear Marianne,

I'm so glad you asked this question, because (a) I have some straightforward suggestions for you, and (b) it gives me an excuse to jump on a favorite soap box and correct a common misunderstanding lots of people have, that it always takes insight to heal or change.' Cause it ain't necessarily so.

Even if your insomnia does come from deep-rooted fears, you may not need to investigate them, understand them or root them out of your psyche in order to start getting good sleep. Maybe, but not necessarily.

That insight-oriented, psychoanalytic style of treatment, founded on the notion that understanding the cause is key to healing, doesn't perform any better on therapeutic outcomes than a behavioral style of therapy, which basically says change your behavior/focus of attention/body awareness (in other words, manually and deliberately do something different) and your psyche will follow. In fact, in many studies, the behavioral approaches have the edge.

So the good news is, listening to guided imagery or meditation is a form of behavioral therapy that creates change from the outside in. How cool is that? It can entrain a more relaxed breathing pattern, relax your muscles, shift your focus of attention away from your busy, worrying and agitating mind – and help you fall asleep.

So for all these reasons, I recommend, first and foremost, the Healthful Sleep imagery for going at this behaviorally. It's simpler and if it works , that's all you'll need.
If you still want to better understand the why's and wherefores of the problem, I'd suggest either therapy with a live human; or a guided imagery exercise that leads you into an imaginal dialogue with someone or something that could provide answers - a wisdom figure, your inner child or your body , for instance.

For that, I recommend William De Foore's Nurturing Your Inner Child; or you could try our Unlocking Intuition guided imagery set, where the 3rd or 4th exercises can be used for this; or, Martin Rossman's guided imagery audios use this device very effectively.

And finally, there are journaling exercises that use a very specific protocol to create a dialogue – again, between you and another part of your self, your body, a wisdom figure, a parent – you name it - and this technique also produces insight in surprising and marvelous ways. For this, I suggest Ira Progroff's terrific book, At a Journal Workshop, which structures all of this.

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