Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. The act of creating a business and selling products or services is just the storefront that people see; it’s the tip of the iceberg. Along with that comes a myriad of challenges that most (if not all) entrepreneurs/humans must contend with at some point: imposter syndrome, limiting beliefs, lack of confidence and/or self-worth, people pleasing, and self-sabotaging behavior to name a few.
I can talk your ear off about all the ins and outs of workflows and email best practices and organizing your CRM projects, but that’s not all there is to my (or your) entrepreneurship experience. There’s so much more happening below the surface, hard things that I (and I’m sure you at some point) have had to deal with.
This series is comprised of my personal journal entries as I do the work to overcome these hurdles in my daily internal experience. Over the course of my self-development journey, I’ve found so much clarity in reading and hearing others’ articulated vulnerable inner experiences. Not only did they give me the language to identify patterns in my own internal world, but they allowed me to feel truly seen for the first time in a long time — that visceral feeling of relief: Wow, I’m really not the only one.
I share my own entries in the hope that someone out there (you?) will reap the same benefits.
Revenge Bedtime Procrastination, Self-Fulfilling Prophecies, Scarcity, and Shame Spirals
Sun June 25, 2023 – Late
I was happily reading as part of my healing homework all day, until 9:30 PM. It had been such a nice day for myself out in the sun, and I wanted to continue to compound the positivity by going to bed on time for once.
Even though it was “late enough,” and I didn’t need to “waste/kill” any more time before going to bed (which sounds ridiculous – a “minimum” of acceptable time for sleep??), I decided to treat myself to one episode of a Netflix show before going to sleep. I’d had the intention to start my nightly routine around 10:15 or 10:30, but I didn’t end up hitting play on the episode until almost 10. So I knew going in that I’d be going over time to start with. I chose to watch it anyway.
In that moment, I realized that it was an opportunity to take a small step toward healing – by making a more intentional choice for myself by just going to bed at that time (9:50 PM) – rather than waiting for 10:15 and beyond to come around. But I told myself I “deserved” the treat of my favorite show, so I made a different choice. This is the same experience and justification I’ve had night after night, month after month.
The implicit message I send myself by engaging in the dopamine hit of TV and staying up past when it’s time to go to bed: adequate sleep is not something I deserve. Don’t I also “deserve” to go to bed on time so I can have restorative rest? The obvious answer is yes, but my brain doesn’t prioritize it that way.
My one episode ended. I was aware that that was the cue I’d already dictated to myself to close my laptop and go to bed. It was 10:40, and it would be about 15 minutes before I was actually putting my head on the pillow. I engaged the impulse to play the next episode anyway.
See? There you go, breaking your own trust. Here’s that tally mark you talked about that you’ll beat yourself up for later, was my thought. One of the few times I’ve ever been able to consciously observe this thought process while it was happening. Normally, I don’t notice that thought. I go straight to playing the next episode and the next until midnight and I’m exhausted. I unconsciously engage in a loop of revenge bedtime procrastination, which turns into a shame spiral: I knew better, but I didn’t do better.
This time I felt neutral. I observed the thought without judgment. That’s probably why I could clearly hear what it was.
Even though I was able to actually notice this thought, and knew I could make another intentional choice to promote my healing and build self-trust, I ignored it anyway. 12 minutes into the second episode, I realized why. The idea of NOT breaking my rules felt so uncomfortable and foreign that I opted to perpetuate my own suffering. Breaking my own rules is the familiar (consequences and all), and my mind is much more comfortable experiencing that cycle than trying to live in the identity of being someone who starts getting ready for bed around 10, and who doesn’t feel the need to have a daily ‘nightcap’ of TV.
I recognize how backward it sounds, but that reality feels more uncomfortable to my subconscious. Choosing to engage with the ‘known’ of self-sabotage is preferable to my brain, as painful as it is.
Now it is actually midnight, and predictably, I’m exhausted.
Those 15 minutes I mentioned between closing my laptop and putting my head down on a pillow now feels like an hour. Long enough to justify skipping my hair care routine, which will be just another thing for me to feel guilty about tomorrow. I’m actively creating negative momentum. If I’d quit while there was still gas left in my tank a couple hours ago, those 15 minutes would feel much easier, leading to the compounding positivity I talked about wanting.
Can I take a small detour just to come back to how nuts the concept of a “minimum” bedtime is? There’s no bedtime police to admonish me if I go to sleep at 8:45, or straight after dinner if I felt like it. I act as if there is. It’s okay to “waste” time of the day and not wring it for every minute it’s got. It feels to me like the habit I have of overeating to not waste any food, even when it’s cheap and not very nutritious. I become satiated but continue to eat anyway. I feel so bad for throwing anything away that I minimize the loss as much as possible.
When it comes to my evenings, I procrastinate sleep by over consuming time. I fill it with junk activities because I don’t want to “waste” the day. Tonight, I was satiated from how I filled the previous 10 hours of time (remember how I said I’d really enjoyed my day?), but I continued to consume it anyway and deny myself sleep.
It all comes back to scarcity. There isn’t enough, so get it for all it’s worth while you can.
And when it comes to scarcity, there’s nothing that I feel more scarce about than money. That’s something that goes back to childhood: scarcity was built into my worldview. “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” was the common admonishment from my parents growing up. I didn’t know the details between them, but I could feel the palpable tension their financial strain created.
That’s another familiar suffering my brain is continuing to willingly engage with in the present day, even knowing the consequences and more intentional choices being available to me. But that’s a story for another day.