Our biggest procrastination hotspots are often those we conceal from ourselves. Let's look at an elusive fear-procrastination connection that often leads to missed opportunities and multiple regrets. Bounce back by initiating personal growth opportunities and replace fear with resiliency and accomplishments.
Ego Dangers and the Could Have Syndrome
Parasite fears are exaggerated ego dangers that drain time and resources and give back nothing of useful value. They prompt procrastination and that extends the fears. By acting to curb parasite fears, you learn to tolerate tension and that is a formula for building resilience while overcoming the fear.
When parasite fears and procrastination rule, the chances are that you'll have a pile of vital things left undone. There's that wonderful trip you wanted to take to see the Mayan ruins. Your fear of unfamiliar places wet-blanketed that dream. You'd love to have a lively and physically attractive mate. Because you fear rejection, you fear to take the initiative. Therefore, you settle for someone who is bland but safe.
If you are flush with parasite fears, a trail of could-haves lies behind you. If you weren't afraid of heights, you could have learned to fly. If you weren't afraid of interviewing, you could have gotten a great job. As you dwell on what might have been, you may drift from what you can do now. However, your "could haves" point to what you still may do.
Some parasite fears will go on as though you trapped yourself within a procrastination revolving door. If you want to exit the door, here are some emotive, cognitive, and behavioral ideas for creating favorable outcomes. I'll use a writer's block example. However, the same principles apply to practically any parasite-fear-procrastination connection.
When Fear is the Emotional Hurdle
When parasite fears are the emotion, procrastination is normally near. You're a great storyteller. You want a career writing novels. However, you feel anxious at the thought that your work may not be good enough. To protect yourself from this ego danger, you do busywork. You tell yourself that you'll write later.
Avoid what you fear to do, and you have a secondary procrastination problem to review. This is where you have a primary problem, like fear, and react to your fear by putting off doing what you're afraid to do. Where does that get you?
By attacking false fears you can turn things around for yourself. Instead of dreaming about writing a novel, you may soon enough autograph published copies of your book.
Your awareness of the parasite-fear-procrastination connection gives you an insight into the challenges that lie before you. Sometimes this awareness is sufficient to start a change cycle in motion. Sometimes it is not. In those instances where awareness exists without action, think more deeply about your thinking and push yourself into action.
When Procrastination Thinking Is Distracting
If you feel threatened by the thought of writing your novel, and then decide to put off the writing, perhaps the time has come to examine your fear and procrastination thinking. Parasite-fear thinking heralds a false danger. That merits combatting. But you may put it off. However, by combatting procrastination, you create the opportunity to get to the core of what you fear.
Procrastination thinking is a distraction that ranges from later is better to a complete foreclosure on any future change. You may temporarily protect yourself from the pangs of a parasitic fear by distracting you from the fears you expect to experience when you take action, but this pseudo-protection only helps extend an already bad situation. For example, you excuse delaying by telling yourself you can't succeed. By fiat, you excused yourself from trying. How do you turn the tables on this thinking? Start by judging the validity of your thinking without judging yourself.
Let's look at one of the more malignant forms of procrastination thinking and how to turn the tables. Catch 22 thinking is a foreclosure-thinking style. You assume that you can't succeed, so you quit. You may also fabricate an impossible condition for change. You tell yourself you'd succeed if you had will power. You tell yourself that you lack will power and so you can't change.
Think you lack will power and you have found a procrastination paradox that merits review and resolution: 1. You want one thing, and you do something different. That's willful. 2. To explain this behavior, you declare you have no will. 3. You willfully deny yourself the opportunity to achieve your novel-writing dream. How do you resolve this will paradox and change the agenda?
Getting straight on your priorities is a step toward exiting procrastination's revolving door. Your expressed goal is to communicate ideas to others through stories. You know you have the ability to tell good stories. How do you get moving in that direction?
You have to do the work if you wish to achieve the results you seek. This acceptance of reality is part of a process of disengaging from needless ego fears and the procrastination that stem from them. Let's turn to that step next.
When Leaping Behavioral Hurdles is Important
Procrastination thinking is distracting. You can change this thinking by questioning it and by taking behavioral actions to break delay patterns and start generating accomplishments. Accept this view, and you may be ready for an exposure exercise. This is the gold standard for attacking needless fears. Exposure is simple. You act to break a parasite-fear-procrastination connection by doing what you are afraid to do. You take the plunge and start writing.
Before you get started, you may face another procrastination barrier. You tell yourself you need to wait until you feel confident enough to try exposure. Execute this contingency manana ploy and you risk adding another could-have to the list of things left undone. (Contingency manana is making a priority contingent on doing something else first, then putting off that something else.)
You may quickly grasp the value of exposure and engage the writing challenge. However, you will probably have to repeat this exercise many times until you get accustomed to this process.
If you want to dig deeper into procrastination, you can listen to my free Podcast at www.smartrecovery.libsyn.org.
A free eBook accompanies the workshop: Beat Procrastination Now.
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Use End Procrastination Now! for guidance on how to be a more efficient and effective you.
For information on dealing with anxieties and fears, see The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety
Dr. Bill Knaus