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From the desk of Coach James

Why you should consider reverse-engineering your night light for a better life.

Over the past weekend I was asked to babysit my seven-year-old nephew, and of course, I was only too happy to. It was at bedtime though that my nephew said could I leave the night light on for him? I did as asked and went back to watching Family Guy in the living room. Zoning out from the TV – I think I saw that episode before – I got to thinking that I could never sleep with the bedside light on, it would keep me awake.

I recall though as a kid I liked having the light left on too. I remember having the ceiling lightbulb changed to a dimmed bulb at bedtime so that could be left on. These days I need blackout blinds and an eye mask in order to drop off, the smallest slither of light will keep me awake. Hotels are the worst as they leave all the corridor lights on and the light shines under the door, I use a bath towel to clog the gap; and the TV with the clock on gets unplugged.

What happened between having the light on at night as a child, and needing blackout blinds, eye masks, and bath towels to fill light spill gaps as an adult? As a kid we were afraid of monsters under the bed, the boogie man in the wardrobe, and things that go bump in the night. As an adult we retreat to our bed to escape the things we can see with the lights on; namely, bills, awkward situations, and life itself. We want to blackout our fears by turning the lights off; the fears that as a child we weren’t aware of, and the fears we had as a child, we’re aware now that it was all in our heads.

The same as most of the things we fear today are not as big of an issue as we make things out to be in our head. Tony Robbins says: Live in your head, you’re dead. Our brain is designed to keep us alive by looking out for potential threats to our survival. So as a child we are none the wiser about the dark, as we grow up we have more experiences of being in the dark to know that it is okay, so our mind which was telling us, there might be a potential danger under the bed quits doing that. Taking that logic into account, that we now know better we don’t get scared of the dark, if we knew better about our fears that we can see in our daily lives, then perhaps we could shut them in the dark too, and not be scared of them.

Like with everything, we learned not to be afraid of the dark, so can we learn not to be scared of living the life we want? It is my experience that if we face our fears we can overcome them and get less afraid of the dark unknown. So turn off the light that is protecting you from what you don’t want to face and is holding you back.

Are you afraid of public speaking, or taking the central spotlight, and you’d rather stand in the wings of darkness? The same understanding a child has when they reach the understanding that there is nothing to be scared of in the dark, we as adults can learn to understand there is nothing to be scared of if we overcome our fears.

What holds us back is what we think might happen, our brain always thinks of the worst possible outcome to protect us from what might put our life in danger. To get your brain to stop going to worst case scenario all the time you need to feed it experiences which will counter the fears.

There's only one way to really do that and that’s by facing and overcoming your fears, thus disproving what your mind thought might happen, so it can write a new story which will empower you to do more of the things you were afraid of.

I love that Mark Twain quote about most of the things he worried about never happening. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know, and make up some story on which you have no understanding of. When you know better, you can do better.

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