Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Avoiding yourself?

Procrastination is “the art of keeping up with yesterday and avoiding today.”
Wayne Dyer, Your Erroneous Zones

We grow and we think everything is going naturally and accordingly with the same growing process as everybody, but that is so not true!

We grow in a specific family environment, we attend a certain school with unique and specific teachers, colleagues, and in all this growing and learning we grow by adaptation. We learn to adapt to our external circumstances.

We build our beliefs, we build our personality traits. We learn how to tell the truth or how to lie. We learn how to get what we want or how not to want anything. We learn to love or we fall out of love with everyone, especially ourselves.

When finally you're a grown up you do all you can to make the outside world meet your inner world, but it’s dam hard. You’ve learned for so long about adapting yourself, that you lose yourself in this process, and in this constantly changing reality of meeting new people, new jobs, new communities, you get lost. So most of us go back to our early teenager response to difficult situations: the “whatever” shoulder shrunk, the make pretend you’re doing just fine, you go as far as pretending you’re having the time of your life!

One consequence of this adaptation to what we think is being asked from you from the outside world is becoming a procrastinators.

It might start like this. You don’t believe in yourself enough to think you can do a good a job, so you make excuses. Or you’ve spend so much time by yourself that you’ve lived most of your life in a fantasy world, so when it comes to facing reality, you prefer procrastinating, that way you keep yourself open for fantasying hopes and wishes...

On Procrastination
Handout adapted from Dr. Sandra L. Davis

When do we procrastinate?
  • Staying in a job in which you feel stuck and dissatisfied.
  • Not tackling bad habits such as smoking, excess drinking, overeating.
  • Avoiding a confrontation with a friend, significant other, spouse, or boss.
  • Using the “I’d do it if I had the time excuse”, if you are challenged about what is undone.
  • Always criticizing how others behave rather than being a “doer” yourself.
  • Starting term papers and projects so late that you do not have a chance to do well.
  • Putting off menial or unpleasant tasks like cleaning your apartment, doing laundry, or
  • going grocery shopping (provided you place importance on these tasks and do not have
  • domestic help).
  • Becoming ill on the day you were to be part of something unpleasant.
Why do we procrastinate?
How many Sunday nights have you sat down to write your week’s “to do” list with every good intention of completing every task only to find that by Tuesday you have conveniently lost your list and are once again procrastination? Many people think that if they just set their mind to it, the procrastination will go away. This is called “magical thinking.” Nothing disappears of its own accord. But understanding is the first step to changing you behavior. So, first try to understand what causes procrastination and why it persists despite momentary attempts at change.

Procrastination is a safety blanket.
No behavior is continued unless it has a payoff. While you might like to believe that the misery you feel as a result of procrastinating could not possibly be rewarding, in fact, it is. Somewhere, somehow, it must net you something. Procrastination is another word for protectionism. In almost all cases, by procrastinating we protect ourselves from something else that feels far more difficult to face.
Procrastination often saves us from our fear of failure. If we are worried that we will not do well on a paper or assignment, often we do nothing at all.

  • Procrastination maintains perfectionism. Sometimes we feel the need to do everything perfectly. When we get busy we fear that there is no time to do a quality job on everything, and so again, we do nothing at all.

  • Procrastination may be caused by a fear of success. If we do very difficult projects exceptionally well, we could draw attention to ourselves. The pressure to always do well would then be overwhelming. Therefore, rather than getting attention for doing something very challenging very well, we wait until the last minute and do a rushed job, or nothing at all.

  • Procrastination is a form of rebellion. If you really do not want to do something, telling people that you do not have the time saves you from telling them that you never wanted to do it in the first place.

  • Procrastination allows us to live in the world of hopes, wishes, and maybes. If you do not send your resume out to all those firms you wanted maybe the one you did not send it to will call you for an interview. Maybe the professor will cancel the exam so you will not study for it until the last minute. If you ignore the problem with your roommate (or housemate), you hope it will just go away. Fantasies are easier to cope with than taking the risk of change.

How procrastination starts a cycle of stress.

In Procrastination, authors Burka and Yuen describe the experience of destructive procrastination as an emotional roller-coaster that follows a cycle of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The cycle begins with a hopeful thought of starting early this time. Emotions change as the time for an early start passes and the procrastinator thinks, “I have got to start soon.” As time goes on the initial optimism fades and is replaced by a sense of foreboding. A number of thoughts and feelings compete for attention. They seem to keep the individual in a state of paralysis. There is guilt with the realization that “I should have started sooner.” There may be a flurry of activity as the procrastinator searches for a way to feel on top of things, doing everything but the project at hand. He or she may feel ashamed, hoping that no one finds out. Some people go so far as to invent incredible excuses for not working on a project. Sick relatives and family emergencies are common excuses that only make the procrastinator feel fraudulent when concerned colleagues offer condolences. The cycle continues with a hope that there is still time to do the work. Eventually, the procrastinator worries desperately that he (or she) is missing some fundamental characteristic like ability, courage, or brains. At some point he makes a final choice to do or not to do. He may give up and think “why bother?” He may plunge in and do something, regretting that he had not given himself enough time. Invariably, the cycle ends with a fervid vow never again to procrastinate.”


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