Success Story Fatigue

If there is one common frustration comment that I am hearing most often, it’s this: “All those people from success stories had it so easy. Just a couple of months – and they are recovered! And here am I: learning this for months and months, and I’m in no way closer to where they are. I’ve never had my breakthrough. I think my insomnia case is special, I might be simply resistant to recovery. I will never get out of it…

Who didn’t have those thoughts?

I had them, a lot.

But in this post I want to dispel some of the myths about recovery stories, help you see that you might not be too far away from it as you think you are, and show you how to support yourself when it seems like everyone else around you are doing better.

Success stories are helpful until…

When we just begin our sleep recovery journey, seeing someone sharing their success can become a light at the end of the tunnel. They can give us hope, strength and inspiration to embark on our journey. It’s simply beautiful ❤️

It helps a lot to know that we aren’t alone and that our experiences aren’t that unique and weird as we thought they were. Especially, if we find a person with a similar background and personality talking about how they “got there“.

If it was possible for her, it must be possible for me too, yay!

But at some point we may turn into a “success story junkie” and binge-watch nearly all of them. At the same time, we also keep living our journey, with its rough patches and doubts, and whether we want it or not, we begin to compare ourselves to others… and we start to ask questions.

Why am I not there yet? What’s taking me so long?
I’ve been stagnating for a very long time and nothing seems to change. How did those people make it?
I’ve wasted so much time, where are my breakthroughs?
He said that he did X and Y happened, and I did the same thing with no effect. Why?
I hate that for everyone else this is so easy but me!

So every time we watch a success story, it is no longer an uplifting and inspiring message, it is a reminder of how “terrible” and “hopelessly stuck” we are. And I’m not putting words into your mouth, I am describing my feelings when I oversaturated myself with stories of success. Some of you might experience these feelings too.

What is Success story fatigue and how to recognize it

Everything is fine in moderation, and success stories are not an exception. When we keep absorbing all the information that people share, the brain can switch into a turbo mode where it tries to apply all the insights from all the stories at once. And when that happens, a speedbump happens.

It is because each story took time to unfold and the brain wants to fit this all in one session.

To quickly test whether we might have done it too much, simply check your inner state before and after you watch or read a success story.

Do you feel more confused after watching this than before?

Do you feel more pressured to recover than before?

Do you feel worse in comparison to others?

Do you analyze and overthink more after watching them?

These are very potent signs that you might need some rest from them.

The truth about success stories

People who watch a success story may form a different picture from what  the recovery of another person actually looked liked – it always seems easier, smoother, faster.

Trust me, a lot of things get omitted there, due to the limitations of the format. All the boring, uneventful and unsuccessful things on the journey usually aren’t given much attention. And only the most memorable parts are highlighted.

Telling a success story is like meeting your school friend on a street after 15 years of not seeing each other and having to answer the question “what’s new?”

Keep this in mind: success stories are a very, very condensed version of the journey. It tends to represent only highlights of the whole timeline.

What we typically hear:

Relatable story of how insomnia started → The darkest moments → Trying X, Y, Z. Not succeeding. → Finding the teaching and getting inspired, learning. → ✨Magic✨ → “It all started to make sense!“ → “My sleep got better!“ → “Here are my insights…” → “I no longer care whether I sleep or not! Life is great!“

What is typically omitted:

  • Finds a teaching, gets inspired and then fear comes back → Desperation: “It’s hopeless!” → Reassurance seeking “I need to know this will work!!!“
  • Starts to sleep better but doesn’t know how it happens → Tries to maintain it, but hits a setback “oh no, I had it and I lost it!“ → Panicky attempts to get back the understanding they had initially, but getting more into a rabbit hole.
  • “I don’t get it anymore! Screw this, I give up“ → Sleep gets a bit easier → “Is this a joke??“
  • “Ok, I think I’m getting it..” → 5-min later: “oh no! I don’t get it anymore! How could I forget of what I just learned? Nothing makes sense again!!” → “wait, I think I get it…” → “nope, I forgot it again” *panic*
  • “I’m not making any progress. All the good stretches I had weren’t a real recovery, I was just fooling myself.“
  • Things getting better, but not as good as they would like. Stuck in “not great not terrible” → Tries to fix it to unstuck → Starts sleeping even worse → “What have I done?? I wish I could go back to that “not great not terrible” place” → Gives up, cries, at some point sleep comes.
  • Things are finally going well → Gets cocky and overconfident → Boom, a speedbump → “It’s even worse than before!!”
  • Tries to nail the theoretical part. Watches a ton of videos, reads plenty of books → Gets oversaturated and confused → Seeks clarity and reassurance → Has a trillion questions → Everything seems urgent.
  • Gets sick and tired of the topic → unsubscribes from all resources → feels better after going this.

This list can seem pretty detailed – because these are the “boring” and “unsuccessful” parts of my journey. In fact, I could go on and on with examples, but I hope you get the idea.

The real journey is not in highlights – although they are a part of it – it is in the mundane, confusing and sometimes embarrassing moments.

The antidote to Success Story Fatigue

Now, I hope you see the whole illusion the mind constructs when it sees a success story and I hope that you don’t judge yourself for being stuck in the “boring” part – we all have been there, most of the time.

But what shall we do now? How to get unstuck?

What I learned from my recovery envy and self-judgement is that the moments we feel like we are worse than others it is a sign that we need to deploy self-kindness and self-care, like 100x! In comparing our journey with the journey of others, we are being utterly unfair and mean towards ourselves. For all the hard work that we’ve put into this, instead of validation and recognition, we kick ourselves.

So, self-care becomes a #1 priority. Even more so compared to all other concepts. And the first step to exercise self-care is to arrange for ourselves a vacation from all the success stories. You body will thank you for that.

Out of sight, out of mind, so to speak.

Give yourself time and space to tend to your needs. Focus on comfort. Forget about stuff that makes no sense, or at leave it for better times. Ask yourself regularly “what would feel like a self-care for me right now?” See how you can arrange it for yourself.

When the brain is no longer receiving more and more mixed signals, things begin to stabilize. Just like when you feel sick in your stomach, you don’t stuff more food to overload your digestive system. You go easy, you fast, you take breaks.

If you liked this post, you may also benefit from my newsletter