TOOLS FOR BREAKING FREE FROM PROCRASTINATION.
Procrastination can destroy your life. We procrastinate to avoid the imagined pain of what it will take to do the thing we need to do to move forward. Over time, the procrastination becomes more painful than the actual doing of the thing we are procrastinating about.
In her book, Feel The Fear and Do It Anyways, author Susan Jeffers states that at the bottom of all procrastination is the belief that we won't be able to handle the fear around the thing we are avoiding. For instance, if I'm avoiding getting a new job, I may be deeply terrified of the rejection involved in applying for jobs. I may be telling myself some version of "What if they don't hire me? I can't go through any more rejection in life. I'm too hurt." I may also be afraid that if hired I won't be able to perform and get fired. The corresponding thought may be some version of, "If they hire me, and I get fired, I'll be humiliated. I won't be able to work again. I can't handle that." Jeffers rightly points out that these distorted fears are lies we tell ourselves. In so doing we play victim and give ourselves permission to not try, be lazy, blame the world for our troubles, etc. We need to understand the costs of procrastination, even righting them down, and what the benefits would be of not avoiding that thing we dread. We also need to affirm to ourselves that when the fear arises, as it most certainly will that, "I can handle it." (whatever "it" is that I'm avoiding) and then take appropriate small steps toward change. It can help to have an outside person to be accountable to our steps for change as a way of "feeling the fear and doing it anyway." Many of my clients have weekly goals that we keep accountability around so that therapy is not just a place to vent, or feel better, but also a place to enact actual change. Some schools of therapy have been rightly criticized as creating a state of "analysis paralysis" for the client. That is, the therapy can devolve into a kind of endless examination of the past where the client is continuing to revisit and overanalyze every aspect of their fear or pain. While understanding and gaining insight into the past is certainly helpful and a part of anyones therapy, the emphasis should be on the client enacting healing, responsibility, and change so that they can let go of the past and empower themselves in the present.
Below is a humorous but poignant Ted Talk on procrastination. Check it out!