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Why do I procrastinate? Is there something wrong with me?

September 24, 2019

I’m Audry.
An empathic, crystal-loving 30-something who is committed to empowering women and making the world a better place. Dog mom, moon priestess, & yoga pants for life.
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Do you find yourself hitting that snooze until you absolutely can’t stand it anymore? Doing ANYTHING, including organizing your underwear drawer by color and style, to avoid that one thing that’s reallllly important and you needed to finish, like, yesterday?

Why do you do it? Is there something wrong with you? Are you just awful at adulting? (hint: NO).

Before you scratch “time management” off your resume skills, hear me out…this may not be about your lack of will power or inability to manage your time and prioritize the important stuff in life. You’re not a loser who has no idea what you’re doing. If you weren’t aware, you wouldn’t feel so shitty about all the things you avoid doing…

So why do we torture ourselves, even when we know we’ll regret it?

Some studies believe procrastination behaviors may be linked to emotional management. Procrastination can be a way of coping with unpleasant emotions and negative moods. It can be brought on or made worse by feelings like boredom, frustration, insecurity, anxiety, etc.

“Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem.”

Dr. Tim Pychyl in a NY Time article

So in short, procrastination is like wrapping ourselves in a comforting blanket of avoidance to get us through the shitty mood or uncomfortable emotions.

But does that mean procrastination is…good for you?? Def not.

So what happens when we procrastinate to avoid a terrible mood?

Well, it’s not great. While in the moment, we think we’re wrapping ourselves in that comfy safety blanket, we’re really just perpetuating the cycle. If you’re anything like me, you probably know full well how bad you feel after you’ve procrastinated something important or meaningful. I allllways feel bad about the shit I avoided, and then I put myself in an even worse mood.

The procrastination causes more stress and anxiety, we blame ourselves, and may even say some mean, nasty stuff about our inability to finish anything (surely that’s not just me? right…). Procrastination is a short term solution to our foul mood and uncomfy emotions. But in the end, it compounds the issue.

So what’s that about? Why do we do it?

When we’re in the middle of stressful emotions or anxiety, it’s especially hard for us to think about the future. So in that moment that we’re in a funk and all up in our heads, we can’t connect the dots that our choice to procrastinate will actually make us feel worse. And even if we “know” it, the consequence/good choice part of our brain isn’t fully firing, leaving us at a loss to make the healthier decision.

What can we do about it??

Break the cycle – Procrastination can actually become an addiction in our brains, so find something more appealing to offer your brain instead. If you can, identify some sort of reward or benefit associated with the thing you were gonna blow off and “trick” your brain into the “better” option.

Give it a rest – In our current culture of Go Do Be Experience MORE, it can be really easy to get caught up in the shit storm of activity and expectations. Sometimes we may actually be procrastinating because we just need a break. Give yourself a breather, some time to relax, and see if that rejuvenates you to come back swinging.

 Be kind to yourself –  Feel like you see this in my posts a lot? That it’s my answer for a lot of things? You’re totally right. Because it’s important. We spend a lot of time beating the shit out of ourselves and it only exacerbates the situation…all of the situations. Be nice. Be as nice to yourself as you would your closest friend if she were going through a tough time…I bet that reaction looks a lot different. It definitely does for me…

Lean in –  Step back and assess what has you feelin funky. Is it an upcoming meeting, a job you hate, a family member who stresses you out? Identify that and then feel your feelings…I know, not comfortable. But it will allow you to work through the situation and who knows, maybe once you’ve understood and felt them, you may be ready to get up and kick the day’s ass.

Still stuck? Close your eyes – If the hole is too deep to just step back and look at the problem, you might want to try this meditation sequence to dig a little deeper and help yourself move past it. Click here to download a printable version.

  • Get quiet and comfortable. Close your eyes.
  • Take several deep breaths in through your nose, out through your mouth, until you feel yourself relaxing.
  • Imagine shining a pretty light all throughout your body. (Notice what color it is? Is it glittery or like liquid gold? Imagine the detail of this light).
  • Now start at the crown of your head and imagine shining this beautiful light all throughout your body. Take your time, move slowly. Move through your skull, into your neck, down through your shoulders, into your chest and through your stomach. Down to your hips and pelvic bowl, then down to your legs, filing your knees and finally making your way down through your calves and into your feet and toes.
  • As you’re shining this light, notice if there are any areas that feel heavy or uncomfortable or that you have a hard time lighting up with your beautiful, shiny light.
  • Feel into the areas that feel heavy or uncomfortable or can’t be “lit up” a bit more. Assess what they feel like…is it like a rock in your chest, a knot in your stomach, a burning feeling behind your knee?
  • Once you’ve found the area and identified the feeling, you’re going to imagine shining a warm, yellow light into these areas. Shine the light until it releases the discomfort or eases the heaviness. Repeat this process in any area that feels heavy or uncomfortable.
  • Now that the warm, yellow light has created space and cleared the discomfort, set an intention for yourself. For example, “I am confident and full of energy. I can’t wait to take action on my goals.”
  • Breathe this intention into the areas you’ve cleared with the warm yellow light and keep shining the light there to solidify the intention into your body.
  • Now imagine the warm yellow light flowing all throughout your body and take a few more deep breaths, leaning into the comfy, warm, positive feelings.
  • Whenever you’re ready, take one more deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth and gently open your eyes, returning to the present.

Other reasons for your procrastination…

If none of this seems to fit your particular situation (or if you’re just curious), take the quiz below from Psychology Today identify what might be causing your procrastination. If you want to read more of that article and their specific suggestions to support each type, check it out here.

So…what kind of procrastinator are you? Have any brilliant tricks to avoid the P-Monster? Comment below.

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