Ep 31. The Pressure Paradigm

Jun 04, 2024

Feeling crushed by the pressure to sleep?

Have a rough night and then stress about the next one?

Find yourself thinking you’ve failed at sleep?

This episode tackles three of the biggest pressure traps that cause insomnia and how to break free of them.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

Outcome Attachment:
The surprising truth about why striving for better sleep can actually sabotage sleep.

Timeline Attachment:
Why quick fixes are a myth and how gradual, incremental changes over time transform the recovery process.

How high standards can sabotage sleep and why self-compassion is your secret weapon.

Join me and learn how to shift your mindset to cultivate a more relaxed approach to sleep.

Remember, you deserve sleep just the way you are—no pressure needed.

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Full Transcription Below:


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About Beth Kendall MA, FNTP:

For decades, Beth struggled with the relentless grip of insomnia. After finally understanding insomnia from a mind-body perspective, she changed her relationship with sleep, and completely recovered. Liberated from the constant worry of not sleeping, she’s on a mission to help others recover as well. Her transformative program Mind. Body. Sleep.™ has been a beacon of light for hundreds of others seeking solace from sleepless nights.


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3 Common Patterns Associated with Insomnia

Okay, so today we are talking about the pressure paradigm. You’ve probably heard me say before that I view insomnia largely as a condition of pressure. Because without pressure, or in the absence of pressure, sleep naturally has the room to flow.


I don’t think you could have insomnia without the element of pressure.


Now what’s so interesting about insomnia is it tends to shine a light on some of the patterns that govern our lives, particularly the pattern of pressure.


There are so many fears you could conceivably avoid throughout the course of your life, but because insomnia is so dang loud and sleep is something we deal with every night, insomnia often becomes the catalyst for a deeper insight into some of the ways that we do life.


And this pressure I’m going to talk about today is twofold: it’s both the pressure we impose on ourselves and the pressure our brains perceive. So, essentially, the pressure we unconsciously create becomes the lens through which we interpret life.


Let’s break this down a more by talking about the role of self-imposed pressure…


I’m definitely no stranger to self-imposed pressure — in fact, I would say this is a pretty central theme of my life and I am absolutely a recovering perfectionist.


The first thing I want to say about self-imposed pressure is that it’s just a survival pattern, okay, a way we learn to cope in the world based on our past experiences. And there’s nothing wrong with pressure itself, sometimes pressure can be a good thing, I’ve definitely used pressure intentionally as a way to move the needle in my life for certain things.


But self-imposed pressure usually looks like extremely high expectations, perfectionism, the constant drive to perform and achieve, always in a state of striving.


And these patterns are usually driven by core beliefs around worthiness or enoughness and what we believe to be true about ourselves.


Now, perceived pressure is how our brains interpret and react to external situations. It’s the filter through which we view our experiences. For example, a minor work deadline might feel like a significant source of stress or pressure if our mind is already primed to feel pressure. So, this perception can amplify what might otherwise be a pretty minor situation.


So this feedback loop of pressure can play a central role in the experience of insomnia. A bad night of sleep causes concern, which leads to pressure, which makes it harder to sleep and we just stay in this cycle.


Now, throughout my work in the mentorship, I’ve identified 3 key ways people get stuck in the paradigm of pressure during their recovery journey so I wanted to share those with you today in hopes that they might be helpful for you on your path.


So the first thing our brains like to do with whatever tool or teaching is presented is immediately

  1. Attach it to an outcome. And that outcome is usually sleep. And I totally get it because you probably wouldn’t even be listening to this podcast if you didn’t want better sleep — so that makes total sense. Now, here’s the thing, when it comes to insomnia, sleep isn’t really the barometer of success okay, because you can be sleeping well, but if there’s still a lot of fear or anxiety about not sleeping in the future, or you’re still making decisions based on not disrupting your sleep, or you’re not living life the way you really want to live it because you’re protecting sleep, then insomnia is still running the show. So, it’s not about sleep.


So taking the pressure off of sleep by not making it a goal is what’s ultimately going to help you reach that goal.


Gotta through a few paradoxes in there every now and then.  


Now, the other thing I wanted to offer about doing something with the expectation of achieving a specific result is that while this approach works for many areas of life, thoughts, emotions, and insomnia tend to respond paradoxically, meaning the more we try to eliminate them, the more they tend to hang on.


So, this is where the pillars of acceptance, trust, mindfulness and self-compassion come in and help us relate differently to these experiences.


The second way I see the pressure paradigm show up is by


  1. Attaching a timeline. Our brains love to do this. We often believe that making certain changes will quickly resolve our struggle, but this isn’t usually the case. Progress typically comes in small, incremental changes over time. In fact, I've never seen anyone go from complete resistance to complete acceptance immediately—I don’t think our brains could even handle such a big shift. It's more about making gradual, 1% changes over time rather than feeling like you’ve got to accept and respond to everything perfectly all at once. Insomnia itself usually fades gradually, more like a block of ice melting than a sudden, noticeable benchmark of recovery.


Which leads me to the third way the pressure paradigm often manifests which is:


  1. Striving for perfection. People with insomnia tend to have very high standards and feel like failures if they still struggle or have fears. But you know, this is so normal. We’re all humans having very real human experience that is filled with a bunch of different emotions. Some days we’re up and some days we’re down and it’s all okay. And when we’re okay with it, our brains are okay with it, too. So, it is really important to be gentle with yourself and recognize that small steps, and compassion are key in the process.


In closing, I want to say that you are worthy of sleep just the way you are. There is nothing you need to change about yourself to have sleep because everything you need is already inside of you. I think we get it in our heads that we need to apply this pressure paradigm to our sleep the way we do with other things in life and that simply isn’t the case.


Sleep is simple, there’s nothing you need to do or be.


Until next time, I’m Beth Kendall and you’ve been listening to the Mind. Body. Sleep. podcast, bye for now.

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