Enlightened Living

Meaning and mindfulness in everyday life

Tardiness, Self-worth and Being Present

When considering chronic lateness, we typically do so in terms of passive-aggression and control. A person who is chronically late is motivated by the misplaced notion that he, his needs and his interests are somehow more important than the people to whom he is responsible. What actually underlies this sentiment is a subtle and more pernicious sense of just the opposite. Read More

Post its for Remembering

"Every moment that we spend in the world, others have the opportunity to share in the gift of us."

Glad it "stuck" with you.

I should admit error though.. I said, "when you leave your house..."
Clearly I was mistaken as you share your gifts with people via your desk at home, every time you write into cyberspace.

Peace,
C

Then to add to the

Then to add to the complexity of why we show up late: some cultures are much more about living in the moment. I noticed this was the norm in Peru while there for 4.5 months this year. It wasn't a disregard to the other person or low opinion of themself, but rather something to be expected.

This subject of chronic

This subject of chronic tardiness means so much to me. And I would like to know how I can cure myself. I am late most of the time. I am late at least 3 - 4 hours to work every day, but then I work over time until late at night. It's been like this for years, and it's getting even worse lately. My managers know me for many years now. They don't complain anymore. But I know that they are not happy with this. And I am very unhappy as well and even sometimes depressed, not just because of this but because of a million other things all related to (I guess) the lack of self-worth.
Also the idea of being not present is so true. It may take me 2-3 hours to get ready for work in the morning. I don't know how time flies by. But I know that while doing ANYTHING, I think or dream of a million other things that had happened and will or I wish would happen in the future.
I also feel I don't want to get up in the morning. It's like NOTHING in the whole world is as important as sleeping some more, even if this is hurting me in many ways. It seems like I just don't care if I'm hurting myself as long as I get my sleep. And every single time that I decide the evening before that I will make a new start the next morning, I am either so excited to get started or make myself busy with so many things that I go to sleep very late at night, and hence I can't wake up early the next morning.
But it's absolutely not about imposing my importance to others. I am not at all arrogant. In fact, I'm quite the oppposite. I hate arrogance, and I try all my best to be extremely modest, so modest that people take me for granted until they get to know me better.
So by being chronically late in the morning, I am not trying to be noticeable or show my importance. On the contrary, I don't like the idea of being noticed. Many times my managers praise me for my work, I either don't believe them, or I say they don't really know what they're saying. I don't understand why they praised my work so much because I would see it as very ordinary, and I ALWAYS feel I could have done much better if only I had more time.
Of course, you would know by now that I also suffer from procrastination. I am also (I guess) a perfectionist in every aspect of my life, although I'm very far from being perfect.
I also suffered from depression for a long time. But I'm out of it now.
People who would read this would think my life is a real mess. Actually, I eventually manage to make everything right for others. I work extra hours to compensate my feeling of guilt, I work on weekends, holidays, ... I also respect other people's time. When it comes to affecting negatively someone's time, I do the effort and get there on time. I'm hurting only myself. I cannot take hurting others, but it's ok to hurt myself. I can take that.
I know I wrote too much. But I think all these different issues are interrelated and I really need a help in this.
I don't want to get to the end of my life and say I could have lived a better life if I only had more time.

remedy

Let me say, I mean this all in a nice way. First of all, yes you are depressed and you are also lucky that you still have a job though you show up 3 hours late. And by showing up late to your job where you know your managers are upset about it, you are hurting them as well. That definatly would stress any manager out, wondering when you'll waltz in. Everybody knows, stress kills.

The plain and clear remedy for this is therapy and you could even consider looking into medication. It sounds like your brain is racing 24/7 and it's disrupting your whole life.
If you are a person who has not taken the therapy route, don't fret - get over it, it's not a big deal. It could help reshape your whole life, for the better.

That's my unprofessional but "have been there" opinion.

the subject of chronic

Please tell me how you are doing today. You wrote this post about always being late and working late at night, weekends, holidays etc. in 2008 and I could have almost thought that was me. I need to know how you are and if you found an answer. I have a job, but lost my marriage and have no relationships, my teenagers think I am crazy. I have terrible health issues and need help terribly. I am working with a therapist but It's not enough. I need more answers.

Please tell me if you can! How are you doing?
I'll be just curious!
Thank you, praying for the best for you!
kjoy in Michigan

Wow...same like me

Wow...same like me too,everything!We can make conference
and secret society of people like us.
What I find is that this explanation in article is way out of the truth.More is actualy..."give up from care for all"...and "still doing things".Why just we dont give up,...and we know the answer for that.We are in trap,and we can....t? free ourself...and I know...not all will understand this.Our clocks are different ,they are not that type time clocks which measure time but events and our results are exeptionals,but not for society with mindless repetition.And lets face it,you know you can be on time and do nothing,and you know that doesn't make any sense at all,but people doit all the time and think that you are same.So...when you stick out not normal for benefit of other is good,and when you stick out not normal for your sense...than you are bad apple.

I'm suffering from chronic tardiness

This subject of chronic tardiness means so much to me. And I would like to know how I can cure myself from it. I am late most of the time. I am late at least 3 - 4 hours to work every day, although I work over time until late at night. It's been like this for years, and it's getting even worse lately. My managers know me for many years now, they don't complain anymore. But I know that they are not happy with this. And I am very unhappy as well and even sometimes depressed, not just because of this but because of a million other things all related to (I guess) the lack of self-worth.
Also the idea of being not present is so true. It may take me 2-3 hours to get ready for work in the morning. I don't know how time flies by. But I know that while doing ANYTHING, I think or dream of a million other things that had happened and will or I wish would happen in the future.
I also feel I don't want to get up in the morning. It's like NOTHING in the whole world is as important as sleeping some more, even if this is hurting me in many ways. It seems like I just don't care if I'm hurting myself as long as I get my sleep. And every single time that I decide the evening before that I will make a new start the next morning, I am either so excited to get started or make myself busy with so many things that I go to sleep very late at night, and hence I can't wake up early the next morning.
But it's absolutely not about imposing my importance to others. I am not at all arrogant. In fact, I'm quite the oppposite. I hate arrogance, and I try all my best to be extremely modest, so modest that people take me for granted until they get to know me better.
So by being chronically late in the morning, I am not trying to be noticeable or show my importance. On the contrary, I don't like the idea of being noticed. Many times my managers praise me for my work, I either don't believe them, or I say they don't really know what they're saying. I don't understand why they praised my work so much because I would see it as very ordinary, and I ALWAYS feel I could have done much better if only I had more time.
Of course, you would know by now that I also suffer from procrastination. I am also (I guess) a perfectionist in every aspect of my life, although I'm very far from being perfect.
I also suffered from depression for a long time. But I'm out of it now.
People who would read this would think my life is a real mess. Actually, I eventually manage to make everything right for others. I work extra hours to compensate my feeling of guilt, I work on weekends, holidays, ... I also respect other people's time. When it comes to affecting negatively someone's time, I do the effort and get there on time. I'm hurting only myself. I cannot take hurting others, but it's ok to hurt myself. I can take that.
I know I wrote too much. But I think all these different issues are interrelated and I really need a help in this.
I don't want to get to the end of my life and say I could have lived a better life if I only had more time.

Are you sure I did not post this?

Wow it was like reading my own thoughts! Why is it so hard to be on time? I wish I could find a way.

I have one of those 'Whatever' clocks on my office wall

at home. What could that mean? ;)

And, I am sometimes late. Not always, but sometimes. I'm not sure it that poor time management and procrastination doesn't play a part, too, along with possibly feeling unimportant.

Maybe there are reasons for feeling unimportant in certain circumstances, if that is what's behind tardiness.

For instance, when I was in a particular relationship in recent years, where I felt unimportant to my partner (that's putting it mildly - he was verbally/emotionally abusive), I'd be late for our engagements or dates quite often.

Of course he complained and I subsequently got much better at being on time. He still complained about when I'd done it in the past though. That is he continued with verbal jabs about it all the time, even though I had stopped doing it and began arriving on time.

And, when I began to arrive on time, I'd end up spending 30 minutes waiting on HIM because he was late getting ready himself. If I mentioned to him about his being late himself, I'd just get comments about all the times in the past when I'd been late.

There was no reprieve no matter what - no winning with the situation. I'm certainly glad to be out of it. Maybe there were elements of feeling unimportant, or wanting attention or control there. I can see where that might have been possible.

And, I haven't been late for engagements, or dates since, though I am sometimes late for meetings at work. Maybe that's because I feel unimportant or want attention or control there sometimes too? Hmm..have to think about that. I'd assumed it was poor time management (or sometimes - forgetfulness).

Darn it. Now you've got me thinking. . .

No worries...

I have one on my office wall -- that's how I knew about it. It was given to me by an old girlfriend and she was definitely making a point... Blessings, Michael

i am curious

I would love to hear more about this "take" on any behaviour that doesn't seem to serve our lives.

You said, "A person who is chronically late is superficially motivated by the misplaced notion that s/he, his/her needs and his/her interests are somehow more important than the people to whom s/he is responsible. What actually underlies this sentiment is a subtle and much more pernicious sense of just the opposite."

So... a lack of sense of personal value leads to an outward behaviour that looks like an inflated sense of personal value to others.

So, in order to empathise with others in regard to any range of persistent, and seemingly painful behaviours, we need to take our "judgment" of what they are doing and flip it around.

eg. for someone who consistently says 'don't worry about me, I don't mind, I have no preferences etc" what woud you say?

or for someone who says "I feel left out, ignored when you didn't call or let me know is going on?"

I would love to hear more on this! It might really help me empathise with some behaviours of mine I don't enjoy and some behaviours of others I find frustrating and painful.

I suffer from this problem too....

I know I get extremely annoyed at this myself, but I usually show up to a class (first of the day, usually) about a minute to perhaps three or five minutes late and perhaps a few times per month I'll actually show up five minutes early or on time. I knew I was usually that much late less than two years ago and my then college Chinese teacher, being an advocate on promptness, gets extremely annoyed at this. I know I try to be on time, but for some reason, there are always other things that distract me that prevents me from leaving early in order for me to get to class on time. I still do this now. I know the fact that most of the things I do at home on a computer I can do on a school computer. I reasoned this for myself to force myself to get to school an hour or two early so I could do the very same things, but is that my source of motivation to get there early? No, it isn't, and it still isn't. It's still pretty much a new year and school's already been started for about three weeks now and I still haven't reached my New Year's resolution to consistently get to school at eight or nine when the computer labs open. I plan to do this because of my sanity: I find it really exhausting trying to "speed and power" cycle up two blocks of hills from home, shortcut through a parallel path to a busy street, cycle up through some more hills before reaching a halfway point where the rest is all downhill or nearly flat. It just takes a toll on my esophagus when I breathe too heavily after an attempt to "speed" up a hill. If I can somehow manage that on my own, it'll be a miracle and I wouldn't need to suffer constant tardiness... it's now just a matter of time of pulling my eyes away from a computer.

Exerting control to feel in control

Mike's article says...

"exerting control to feel in control - while in reality they are silently validating their own sense of unworthiness, whether consciously or unconsciously."

Now I'm not a psychotherapist or a social scientist but I am chronically late.

The simple truth is that I love and respect myself and those around me. I even try my hardest to love my enemies. But still I am almost always late.

I personally believe that I am just simply horrible at time management and organization which causes me to frequently misjudge the amount of time I have to accomplish things. But like I said, I'm not a psychotherapist so maybe I'm wrong and I'm just a (delusional ;) control freak.

I hope that Mike is wrong though for humanity's sake. I would hate to believe that most people who are late all the time are exerting control to feel in control - while in reality they are silently validating their own sense of unworthiness.

Sometimes, a cigar...

...is just a cigar. And I, Adam, will be the first one to point that out.

The slippery slope upon which psychology rests is the notion that it is a science and should be regarded as fact -- and often, regrettably, is regarded as such, when it is not.

The plain truth is that psychology is a system of subjective conjecture, based on a bunch of theories, which are themselves based on a lot of subjective conjecture, which is based on some more theories, and so on and so forth. Very little is provable. In fact, most of Freud's work, which we often revere as gospel, is based on just a few case studies -- the absolute worst sort of empirical data!

So, "cum grano salis" -- everything "with a grain of salt". I'm pretty sure humanity is safe.

Blessings,
Michael

PS -- that quote, by the way, is Freud, himself.

This article made so much sense...

I have struggled with tardiness almost my whole life. My mother is also a chronically late person - friends who know her well, when inviting her to dinner or a party, will often tell her to arrive at a time 1 - 2 hours earlier than the actual time they want her to come; they know she will be late. Even when I was in Kindergarten, my mother often brought me to school late - and the pattern has carried on through the years and into my adult life.

I fully believe that my tardiness is linked to depression, anxiety, and self-worth issues, and I believe her tardiness was also. Some "chronic tardies" may just have poor time judgement, but I don't feel that applies to me at all. I actually have a pretty keen sense of time and generally have an idea of what time it is throughout the day without looking at the clock. However, I get sidetracked easily, I often procrastinate and give myself less time to do things than I actually need. Despite my best efforts at preparation and having things together ahead of time, something goes awry and before I know it, I'm in a rush and running a few minutes behind for work, doctor's appointments, etc. I try to hide it and appear more in-control in front of others, but I'm actually a deeply fearful and anxious person. My mind is often wandering and I'm always worrying about something or another, even during periods when I don't really feel depressed or anxious.

I know it sounds stupid but I have lived this way for so long, I am clueless as to where to begin to change permanently - I have managed long periods of at least getting to work right on time, then I go back through bouts of lateness. I realize that even though many times I feel I have a valid excuse for being late, I would be better prepared for life's curveballs if I gave myself more time...but when I try to get into the habit of getting ready earlier, I inch my way back to just barely making it, and then to being late again.

I hope this article helps it's "chronically early" readers understand a little better...it's not always a true sense of arrogance or desire to exert power - it's often much deeper than that, and difficult to cure.

In more relational

In more relational cultures....this isn't even an issue. I wonder how this would read in countries where relationships are valued over the strict concept of time.

The author makes a western standard of tardiness an issue of self worth, but sometimes it just isn't that deep. Just because a person is a strict monochronic doesn't mean that they have loads of self worth. Conversely, just because a person is a polychrone doesn't mean they don't value people, time or themselves.

This whole piece was a bit of a far reach for me [and yes, I lean towards being one of those polychronic people]. For ex, I'm late most of the time because I'm generally exhausted [don't sleep well b/c of over working or anxiety], my solution is more rest and organization... and then when we can do a deep dive into why i'm always 'late.'

It was a bit of a stretch for

It was a bit of a stretch for me too, I wanted to buy it, as a sometimes late or at least cutting it super close type--and I happen to have what most people would call self esteem issues (ie not thinking you are the most awesome person in the world, which I don't particularly seem to think is all that big of a problem, but that's me.)

It seems like "being in the moment" can still lead to lateness, can it not? For example, I am reading a PT blog and enjoying it and not realizing that it is almost time for me to go to my job.

I think subconsciously we just place more value over certain things than others. I had many, many problems being on time to classes in college because over time I just began to value sitting in a classroom (and listening to someone drone on and on while I pay big bucks for an uncertain future) less an less... call me crazy!

I'd like to call bull

there is just too much over analyzing going on here. Well, maybe not here but is tardiness the new watered down narcissism? (I thought they decided that didn't exist.) I mean REALLY?

okay, I can see someone who generally cannot get to work earlier than 3 hours late, but does someone who (reliant on public transportation, non-synchronized time in a time driven society, and 1.5 hour or more commutes) gets to work about 3-7 minutes(literally) "late" 4 or 5 times a month REALLY have passive aggressive control issues?

okay so maybe they do when the stress of, commitment to, and daily grind of working for company X is treated as a right of the company to your slavish adherence to rules with absolute judgment a right only granted to company hacks...

yeah, if you aren't going to respect my person, then I'm not going to tack an EXTRA 30 minutes "padding" to my 1.5 hour already stress filled commute just to make sure I can punch that clock at 9:24 instead of 9:34. Especially when it is expected (moray if not mandatory) that I work overtime until 8 or later just out of "commitment" to the company/project and because of how much more I love my coworkers than anyone else. I've never seen any "exempt" personnel get called on the carpet for not being on time for meetings, conference calls, days work, funerals, weddings...in their world it is a sign of success and production to be so busy that one is always late.

How come only clock--punch level people are susceptible to this malady? I notice the president is often late for his state of the union address, or for arriving at other podiums. With all the people responsible for his being on time, what you are telling me that he has passive aggressive control problems? Nevermind rock stars that start concerts late; celebrities and financial gurus being late for interviews...come on.

I'm getting real tired of psychology helping out our corporate overloads by coming up with one-sided manifestos about how all us pleebs have passive aggressive psychological problems with the way the world is...if you're rich, you're busy. If you're poor, you have esteem or control issues. I mean COME ON!

well yeah..we do, because right now...it sucks to be a pleeb...but how many degree'd and alphabetized psyches would know that? You are rapidly loosing all sense of propriety.

Maybe the have-not have psychological problems, but the haves gave it to them. Besides, do YOU know how hard it is to get a kid whacked out on Prozac and Clonazipan moving in the morning? Oh, but if he doesn't have it, the school won't accept him at all..still all our fault.

Psychology is rapidly loosing its perspective in the far reaching quest for recognition and byline. Be careful you do not create as much as you discover. Bah.

Two words...

Anger management.

Two more words...you misunderstood.

If you weren't so busy being pissed and positional, you might have figured out that this article was aimed at a deconstruction of behavior associated with chronically, excessively, obnoxiously late people -- not the occasional late-to-work folks, like yourself.

anger managed thank you

pointing out double standards usually garners said response and has since the first 5 year old pointed out that the emperor has no clothes.

that said; I opted out of the time card race simply because of the insanity that is corporate HR which believes clocking in at 9:34 is synonymous to clocking in at 10:04 for a 9:30 start time so it is not "my commute" that I'm complaining about, but rather all those other poor slobs still trying to make it in a 1.5 hour (the average) commute in the corporate world (65% of the country).

when we are all so corralled and penned and de-individualized to the point that we all have synchronized gadgets (watches? what watches?) from president to prisoner...

THEN maybe we can actually put our psychological finger on a chronic lateness rather than leaving it up to the "masses" to decide what it means outside a thesis.

It is not the psychologist that APPLY diagnosis...they only supply the symptom. It is not the psychologist who gets to define "late". In actuality, it is some human reading this article then going back to their cubby to dispense illegal diagnosis: "Tom, you're problem is chronic lateness...I read this article..." (Hence all the Americans on prescription psychotics NOT prescribed by a licensed psychiatrist.)

Calling fowl on an easily misunderstood diagnosis as put forth is not in need of anger management.

Not about tardiness per se

I really disagree with the early statement that passive-aggressive people are "by definition, arrogant". I've NEVER heard this, and I believe it's exactly the opposite. Passive-aggressive people have low self-images which is why they are afraid to confront a situation, rather, they manipulate it passively. Arrogant people would simply "tell it like it is" in a condescending way, as if "of course I am right"--no need to be passive about it.

I also questioned that

I also questioned that statement about passive-aggressive (PA) people being arrogant but after some thought I think that the author is trying to say that people try to cover up their PA by being arrogant. I believe PA comes from insecurity and self worth issues and as such these people try to make themselves look and act like they are superior to those around them, hence arrogance. Of course this is simply one of many ways to respond to PA, so I think the author may have missed a few cases, but I believe there IS truth to that statement.

Arrogance v. Narcissism

You're confusing arrogance and narcissism. Arrogance, by definition, is a false inflation and presentation of ego to balance out underlying social insecurity. Narcissism is the imposition of ego and self-righteous positionality to force a point. You're talking about narcissism.

If you've "NEVER hear this" you didn't take Psych 101.

And PS -- passive-aggressive people are not by nature socially submissive, as you suggest. That statement demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of passive-aggression.

I can't help but feel like

I can't help but feel like you've completely misread my comment.

Your definition of arrogance is "a false inflation and presentation of ego to balance out underlying social insecurity".

My own statement is "insecurity and self worth issues and as such these people try to make themselves look and act like they are superior to those around them" - are these not roughly the same sentence? Further, I mention nothing about being imposing or self-righteous.

Another point I'll make is that the general definition of arrogance has nothing to do with social insecurity; one may very well lead to the other but such implications are not part of the denotation itself.

Show me where I even remotely suggest that PA people are "naturally submissive". If anything, it sounds to me like you are letting your own ego and sense of arrogance get the best of you.

Sorry!

That tort was meant for Dan L, not you...

Oh! Shit! Sorry! Man now I

Oh! Shit! Sorry! Man now I feel really embarrassed :P My email just said "Anonymous has commented on: "Tardiness, Self-worth and Being Present" and so I just assumed that comment was aimed at my own comment. Seriously feeling foolish right now. I'll remember to check who the comment's actually directed from now on hahaha

a big stretch

I am so tired of people labeling others for little things like being late. I have a friend who is always early.. is that passive/aggressive? She knows I won't be ready. It bugs her that I'm always late.. just 1 to 5 minutes... its not passive aggressive its just poor time management. I have always worked for myself and therefore time is not as important as it is to those that have to clock in or report to a boss. Mostly I think people are just late because they think they can do one more thing before getting out the door, or the phone rings and they answer it, or the cat comes home and they feed it. People are too sensitive. RElax sit back and enjoy some time alone.

Yes, of course late people are all arrogant....

Yes, of course Michael. Of course people who are late just think higher of themselves than you. This is psychology? Where's the empathy here? Many things can cause perpetual lateness and I really dislike that people ACTUALLY think the late person does it on purpose. 99.9% of the time, they want to change their ways. But there's likely an underlying reason that results in a daily cycle for them that leads them to being late. I know it's weird, but sometimes I get an OCD, where even when I'm not yet running late, I'll 'HAVE' to get more things ready or brush my hair or tie my shoes....and voila, I'm late.

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Michael J. Formica, M.S., M.A., Ed.M., is a psychotherapist, teacher and writer. He is an Initiate in the Shankya Yoga lineage of H.H. Sri Swami Rama and the Himalayan Masters.

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