I have lived long enough to realize that I know the things that are good for me. Sometimes however I find myself procrastinating to do something beneficial to me by putting it away for a later time. A later time in which I set another… ummm…. later time.
(You may need to get your cup of tea, this post will be long but worthwhile)
Postponement after postponement!
Yet the will power, attention , motivation and drive may sometimes come to me when I am doing something trivial. Which I also know is trivial and adds no value to my higher goals.
This may be in the form of reading up jokes, scrolling the newsfeed, reading emails or even reading on “How to stop procrastination.”
(Note that I am not saying entertainment, bar talk and social interaction are of no value. I am saying where they don’t serve ones urgent goals , they become an easy strategy for procrastination to manifest)
Hey we all do it…
A lady friend of mine, told me she was reading up on, “How to finish a book.” (If she is reading this she knows herself)
I told her, “That’s how your mind is keeping you from finishing the book! It’s making you do everything, such as reading up on how to finish the book, but that’s still not finishing the book.”
To cut a long story short this self sabotage happens toward things we value if we have a part of us that fears the outcomes. It may be a fear of success or a fear of failure… perhaps a fear of another underlying outcome.
Find the pattern!
So whenever you find yourself with no strength to complete a task, action or get onto a habit which you know will give a favourable result, question yourself to figure out what you fear about that.
Is it fear of what you may lose if there is success, fear of failing and how others will see you, fear of the life change itself? What is it?
What is it that makes you on a motivated day start on a book, write 10 pages in and then not have the same energy the next day?
Do you fear that when the book is out others may think it’s not good enough?
Do you fear a life change if it sells well?
What part of you is in resistance with that. You must find it to deal with it strategically and with urgency. To extinguish it from your subconscience before it burns out more will power, because what ever it is it will not only hinder you in let’s say “book writing” but other areas that offer similar out comes for your life.
It’s not the book writing it’s against. It’s a certain possible outcome, based on a belief you may have acquired about yourself. None of these things are visible at surface level even for you!
That’s why perhaps you may start a blog, just as you are getting consistent, you stop. You weight lift for a day or just stack e-books you never finish or apply in folders of your computer.
You start selling Avon products, just as your customer base is starting to accumulate you stop.
Your mind being clever will not directly reveal to you that fear. It will calculate excuses to lead you to “safe ground”. That’s why we sometimes sabotage the habits that are good for us and give good excuses yet we jump into detrimental habits with no 2nd guessing and without applying excuses not to.
I know people that will fork out $100 to instantaneously go to a party they had not planned before hand yet the very people are comfortable procrastinating on a business opportunity that may be presented to them at say $60.
“I need to go and think about it.”
Imagine if they used the same thought pattern to things that add no actual value that they accept on default with no second guessing. What if it was default for them to go for the opportunity?
If only. If only they could deal with those internal blocks that we are all in denial of.
There is a strategy to your self sabotage
Your mind is always plotting in terms of what it thinks serves your best interests in terms of survival.
I grew up affraid of dogs and have that phobia up to now. Though it’s lowered because I actually now co-keep one.
As a result I always found an excuse or an alternative when it came to visiting people who had dogs in their yard. I was an obedient child, never lazy or insubordinate when my mum sent me as a messenger to her friends that lived in far places.
Yet I found every excuse to postpone when she sent me to our neighbours who lived 3 houses away and had 3 viscious dogs which had once growled and chased me when the gate of the yards they lived in had been left ajar.
“Asi unotya mbwa”( Do you fear the dogs). My mum would ask, a question for which I’d eventually admit with a little denial. I am a male child in Africa so you can already guess what that denial was protecting. The cause, has a cause, has a cause. Dig deeper into yourself Mike!
My fear of dogs! Let’s get this one straight
Fear one is pretty simple right.
Fear of pain. Who wants to get bitten by a dog? Probably reinforced by actually being chased and hearing of people had been bitten by the dogs before.
Fear two is more subtle…
Fear two is based on being male and being told that males do not fear things such as dogs and those who do are weak.
This does a series of things effectively.
- I know I fear dogs and must deal with it.
- To deal with it I must first deal with my fear of being called weak for even having the problem in the first place.
- Since I am not ready to do that, I live longer with that fear and future incidents with dogs that I observe from others or experience myself reinforce my fear of dogs.
- Since society says, if I fear them I am a coward and therefore weak. “urigwara” (you a coward). I come to terms with the beliefs that i am a coward.
- This potentially informs my reactions to all other areas where MEN need to be brave, because once you think you are a coward, you can’t then confine that you are only a coward where dogs are concerned right.
- Then failure to man-up in all other situations where bravery would be needed re-inforces that belief and now it’s no longer just the fear of dogs (rather of pain they might inflict) that empowers that belief.
Yet ironically… I have never been bitten by a dog. I was simply chased.
If there were two routes to going to the same place and one usually had dogs that had a way of coming out of their yard I would choose the other way, it didn’t matter the distance.I had to deal with this layer by layer and if a parent or future parent is reading this. Take notes.
A strategy to my madness!
I am illustrating this to show that when you have a fear for something, your brain has a strategy to do anything to avoid what may bring about a certain result.
You will date the man/woman of your dreams and find a way to ruin it.
You will get the job you want and find a way to mess up.
You will work hard for a raise and find new expenses to still leave you back at $0.
You may want to look at these images, download and print them out so they can remind you what to look for. Feel free to search for more. There is a wealth of information on this on the internet.
How do I evade that fear?
Now, you may logically know that a certain fear is unwarranted and stupid but nevertherless react to it. Fear extinction is very complex and it’s a thing I try to find hacks for daily.
The good thing is once you identify what you really fear around something you are now in a position to consciously overide that fear until a time over-riding that fear becomes unconscious.
There is a time you needed to type slowly, making sure you were tapping the right keys perhaps. Then overtime typing became as unconscious as walking and talking at the same time. Yet… you were not even born walking.
So one thing I encourage is small steps, like a baby. Hold on to that furniture but just do it with frequency. If you try to run on the first day and fall the pain may reiforce the fears you had in the first place.
This is a hypothetical example about anything.
There are many other methods to over-ride anxious thoughts such as the “rubberband snap”.
This is when you put a rubberband on your wrist so that each time your mind is overthinking negatively you snapit on yourself and inflict a little pain. Whilst telling yourself it’s punishment for thinking that negative thought.
Your mind rewires itself overtime to avoid that discomfort.
As earlier mentioned the brain creates strategies to ensure your “survival”. So avoiding that limiting belief becomes a strategy that your neurons begin to rewire for. Likewise, reward yourself when ever you take the small steps to reinforce them.
On reward and punishment
However stop rewarding yourself as soon as the small steps become a comfort zone.
The small steps are not created to remain small, they should be there as pillars on which bigger steps will be made.
Likewise create new punishments for yourself to catch up with your new level. Do not reward yurself for bad behaviour!
If you often sip a glass of red wine when you win, and your mind registers that as reward. Do not drink red wine for doing nothing all day or for failure.
I am not saying be depressed.
Jay Z says. Don’t drink to maintain, drink to celebrate! (that’s not a quote)
How else can I remove my fears
Read testimonials on people who have done what you want to do, documentaries and so forth but limit them to one at a time lest watching the documentaries becomes a strategy to procrastinate.
Downloading every motivational talk and ebook you come across could as well be the most dangerous method of procrastination. I say so because it can fool you into thinking that by reading all those books or watching the stuff you are actually doing something.
I sincerely hope this piece of writing serves useful to myself and others. if you enjoy my perspectives please feel free to follow me on @Mcpotar on twitter and even challenge my views.
Head to the comment section to type “The time is now”.
Originally posted 2019-06-16 08:42:43.