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Dealing with Procrastination

Dealing with Procrastination

Almost everyone struggles with procrastination in some aspect of their life.

For some it amounts to a mild inconvenience and for others it can have disastrous consequences touching upon almost every part of life. Given that is the case it would help if we knew something more about the dynamics of it and how to clear it. After all procrastination is simply a program that is triggered by certain circumstances and takes over as an automatic algorithm with predictable outcomes, that is unless you unwind it and reprogram it more favorably.

Let’s begin with understanding what procrastination is and what the motivations behind it are. First let’s understand that there are a variety of motivations for it and that all people are not on the same page about why they do it. Basically, when we put off for later what could be done now, we are engaging in some form of procrastination also known as kicking the can down the road. What is the matter with that? Simply put it makes us inefficient, unproductive, and ties up our future with an obligation that becomes an energy leak because it is constantly at the back of our minds even though we may pretend it is not and this interferes with our ability to be fully in the present moment. In short, when we procrastinate we give our power away.

When we put off for later a project or even an obligation because something arises that takes priority, we are not engaging in procrastination. For example, if we put something off because a relative dies and we suddenly have a funeral or memorial service to attend, this is not procrastination. If we come down with covid and have to postpone a project or meeting this is not procrastination either. On the other hand, if we are faced with acting on something and then take the excuse that we have a mild cold or need to go to a meeting that has cropped up that we actually don’t need to go to at all, then this is procrastination. 

So let us explore the feelings and motivations behind procrastination. Let’s say you postpone answering a colleague’s e-mail or text, there could be many reasons for this. Maybe this is a contentious message that is likely a can of worms. Perhaps it is an accusation or a demand or a barrage of anger about something you said or did. You are not excited about engaging because it makes you very uncomfortable, you don’t know what to say, you are triggered, angry, and upset, you are afraid of losing control in your reply, you have experience with this person and it usually does not end well, they are asking you for another favor and you don’t want to give it, and so on. All of these have deeper ramifications. Perhaps you hate to set boundaries because it makes people angry with you and this call requires that you do it. Perhaps you just know you will not be heard or understood and you will have to endure an attack and being attacked causes you extreme anxiety. Perhaps you just know that if you engage you will become riled up, lose sleep, and poorly perform the next day at work and you are afraid of the consequences of that. Perhaps you are being asked to do something that you are not good at or you will fail at and this will bring up feelings of failure and distress. Perhaps you will lose the goodwill of the person asking and if you fail them this brings up rejection issues. 

Maybe you have to do your taxes which you hate because you tend to make mistakes or you are just sure you will owe more and this will make you have to tighten your budget, and there are a dozen things you would rather do like watch a movie, have drink, take a gummy, or call a friend. Notice that most of these dynamics involve being afraid of something and wanting to avoid that. Ultimately you may be afraid it will cost you an unpleasant experience of discomfort which you would rather avoid.

There are two things that the ego wants. The first is to survive at all costs and the second one is to seek comfort and pleasure instead. The ego does not differentiate between what is a real threat and what is a hallucinated threat. For example, the ego will have you run screaming or preparing to defend yourself if you are about to be physically attacked by an animal or a person. However, it will also send you screaming or preparing to defend yourself if you feel threatened by something even though it will in reality not kill you. Feeling rejected, humiliated, attacked verbally is enough to send many people running for the exit. For them the presence of someone coming at them with a knife and someone verbally assaulting them is no different. So, we tend to avoid anything that is associated with attack, assault, or unpleasurable feelings including losing money. Almost every reason for procrastinating has these elements involved. This does not mean the ego is against you, it just over-reacts and then uses the event as a tool to get you to comply with its every wish and desire, to survive and seek comfort or pleasure instead of feeling pain.

Unfortunately, its strategies lead you to postpone the pain and the suffering by appearing to kick the can down the road where nothing has actually changed, been dealt with, or straightened out. That, of course, is a failed strategy. If you are hoping that the other person will die or leave the company before you get back to them you are probably fooling yourself.

If you tend to procrastinate, let’s look at your options. Let’s say you don’t want to do something for a variety of reasons discussed above. Perhaps you don’t want to prepare your taxes because you simply dislike doing them. It is truly no fun for you. It may be that you fear you will make a mistake that is going to cost you a lot of money. This can be a legitimate concern; however, the reality is that it might be actually not about your fear of the consequences so much as your desire not to engage in something you have no attraction for. Your best bet is to make a decision not to do it and see if you can find someone who likes doing taxes, who is an expert at it, to do it for you. That way you are free to do what you are truly talented at. This is not avoidance, nor is it laziness, it is just an intelligent strategy. Of course, if there is absolutely no one around who has the ability to do them accurately then you may well have to do it yourself. If that is how it is then your best bet is to stop thinking about it and just start doing it. It will be easier if you ask one of your trusted internal allies to help you get it done. If you do not believe that you have trusted allies then you are at a disadvantage but can still give the project over to Spirit. You will still have to do it but when you are getting Spirit’s help it is no small thing. Try this, you may really like the results. 

If you do not believe in Spirit then you are again at a disadvantage. However, you can still tackle the task by dropping less important projects and going right to the taxes without any thinking about it just like turning the hot water off in the shower and letting the cold water come down on you without giving it the slightest thought. Try this. You will be surprised at how easy it is after a few times. Your dislike of the task is directly related to the narrative you have told yourself about it. What if there were no narrative at all to tell? What if there was just the task? Hmmmm.

Here is a slightly different scenario.

Let’s say you have to contact someone you have interviewed for a job and you have to tell them they do not get the position. You hate doing this, hate giving out the bad news, disappointing and rejecting the person who was desperate for a job but it is your obligation to do so and most likely no one can do this for you. You could avoid making the call and cause that person more distress and anxiety which would be cruel and unacceptable. Alternatively, you could take care of this business immediately by making the call realizing that the job was not right for them and that they are destined to do something else; That if it were the right thing then their higher self would have arranged for them to pass the interview and get the job. You know that was not the case. You can know there is another path for them and it is none of your business what that is.

Your job is to tell them this job was given to someone else and you can know within yourself that ultimately, they will end up with the job situation that will teach them the most. This is actually the way it works so you don’t have to feel bad for them, feel guilty, and have no faith in their ability to end up in the right place. In fact, you can be quite encouraging to them despite the rejection because you are seeing the situation from a higher octave perspective where you can see clearly there are no victims, no ultimate dead ends and that everything is being exactly right the way it is. This is actually a vote of confidence for them instead of seeing them as a failure and a reject. In other words, you see them as a face of Spirit and in so doing you make it easier for them to see themselves in that light too. All of this can be communicated without words except of course the part about their not getting the job. That has to be verbally communicated. 

At the end of the day there is no way to completely escape something that you are resisting. Either you have to struggle with avoidance behavior and the sense that you still have to pay the piper or you have to bear the discomfort of actually doing what you did not want to do. Doing the task is always the easier choice. The alternative is best described by the phrase, “Doctors with dull knives make terrible surgeons.” If you have to cut off the gangrenous foot, then get it done and do it fast or the patient and you will suffer infinitely more. In fact, if you don’t get to it the patient will almost certainly die but they could have lived without the foot.

At the end of the day procrastination is a great teacher. It will teach you courage, neutrality, and staying in the higher octave. Through self-observation it will teach you many things about yourself. It can teach you the power of being with what is, the power of being who you are in any situation, the power of seeing things through to completion. Sometimes you will even find out that what you thought you were going to hate doing was actually fun and that you were actually good at it.           

If you tend to procrastinate here are some questions to pose and ask yourself:

  • What is it exactly I am resisting doing? 
  • What are the consequences of not doing it?
  • What is the fear that I am choosing to feel about getting this task done, estate planning, cleaning the garage, getting a new set of tires for the car, clearing that debris pile in the yard, getting the roof inspected, calling that relative back and so on?
  • Who is it that is putting this off? What part of me doesn’t want to do this? How old are they?
  • Is this part of me actually real or is it just a memory or a hallucination? 
  • If there is a me, how will I punish me for not getting this done? 
  • Who will do the punishing? 
  • Is doing this really going to hurt you or kill you?

You get the idea. Keep asking. You will learn something and you will get your power back.

© All rights reserved. www.thepowerpath.com 

You may make copies of this writing and distribute it in any media you wish so long as you do not charge for it or alter it in any way. You must credit the author and include this entire copyright notice. While the text may be shared, no audio files including lectures, music and/or sound meditations may be posted on any site for any reason without written permission from the Power Path.

José Stevens PhD is an international lecturer, corporate team builder and organizational coach, consultant and trainer. A psychologist, licensed clinical social worker and author of more than twenty books and numerous articles, he is also co-editor for A Journal of Contemporary Shamanism and a board member of the Society for Shamanic Practitioners. He is the founder, with his wife Lena, of the Power Path School of Shamanism and The Center for Shamanic Education and Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating youth in indigenous cultures. He has completed a ten-year apprenticeship with a Huichol Maracame in Mexico and has studied with the Shipibos of the Amazon and the Paqos of the Andes for the last thirty years.

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