PROCRASTINATION – how to use presence to get the important things done
I hope you are reading this blog intentionally instead of...procrastinating, but if procrastination is something you struggle with you might find the following insights & solutions below useful.
Do you notice yourself using procrastination, stalling, avoidance, or putting things aside “until you feel like it”? Procrastination and avoidance can take many forms and we can make a myriad of excuses as to why we putting things off, avoid getting started, or not finishing. When we are caught in these pattern, we might hear our mind making excuses like:
- “I am not in the mood”
- “I will do it later”
- “I didn't have time”
- “I can do it another time”
- “I still have plenty of time before the deadline”
- “I was too tired”
- “I had to do X, Y, & then Z”
- “I had to watch this movie or TV show”
However, these excuses are usually decoys or smokescreens that prevent us from understanding the deeper motivations of what our procrastinating behaviors is really about. Successfully overcoming procrastination is not about devising rational strategies, creating reward/punishments, or using willpower.
The essence of procrastination is an attempt to avoid feeling discomfort and in particular uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, fear, guilt, or shame. This is where procrastination inhibits us not only from being more productive & successful but also from living with deep presence.
So the deeper question to ask ourselves is “why am I really putting this off?”
Underneath the procrastination excuses is usually a layer of negative self-talk and below we find the deeper emotions that are being avoided. Cognitive talk therapy or mental strategies intend to effect us at the mental level, however usually the lasting solution for over-coming procrastination lies in the deeper beliefs and emotionally charged memories from which the thoughts and negative self-talk originate. According to Daniel Siegel PhD, head of Psychiatry and Interpersonal Biology at UCLA, recent brain research demonstrates that emotions arise first before thoughts and emotions exist at a stage before language. This is why cognitive talk therapy has limited effect with changing negative thoughts, especially for procrastination. Thus, the lasting procrastination solution lies at a deeper level than merely trying to use willpower, be positive, or say affirmations. The Presence Academy training course & Presence Academy coaches help people embody a deeper presence and in this can liberate the roots of sabotaging procrastination patterns for good. In the meantime, below are some questions to help you begin to explore some of the deeper underlying roots beliefs and experiences contributing to avoidance and procrastination.
- Take a current inventory of things you are procrastinating on or things still left undone.
- In procrastinating or avoiding these things what excuses am I making?
- When did you first begin to use procrastination? (For some of us, procrastination began in childhood.) How old were you and what was going on in your life at home or at school?
- Do you procrastinate more at work or in your private life? Do you have a pattern of being late to work or appointments? Do you struggle with deadlines, socializing, making decisions or self-care?
- Do you feel tormented by “should” or “have to's”? For procrastinators, sometimes underneath all these “shoulds” is a conflicting pattern of resistance from the past “I don't want to and you can't make me”
- What belief is blocking me? Is there an event from the past that might be related to this or this reminds me of…? What am I afraid might happen if I completed this task?
Some common LIMITING BELIEFS related to Procrastination
- “If I don’t try, I won’t have to worry about not living up to expectations”
- “Failure is unacceptable”; “It is better to not finish than fail”
- “Fear of success”
- “Success is dangerous”; “I will not be safe”; “I might be harmed if I don’t do it right”)
- “I will not be loved or approved of”
- “People will dislike, ridicule, or exclude me if I don’t do it right”
- “I don't want to & you can’t make me”
- “Fear of future or uncertainty”