I always know when my anxiety is striking hard. Here’s why I’m procrastinating again and also what I plan to do about it.
Attempting to distract myself from my own anxieties seems to happen more often these days, even as I’m trying to understand my habits, change what’s not working and grow as a mature woman.
What usually precipitates these bouts of anxieties is an outside force. A tough week at work, maybe, or an especially difficult month of stuff going on at home.
I’ll lose my focus. Small bad habits take over, like staying on Instagram an extra twenty minutes, mindlessly surfing the web, or grabbing the bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and continuing to munch after I’ve already had a proper serving size.
I’ll lounge in bed longer than necessary, even on a sunny day, which I usually refuse to do, or I’ll binge-watch Hannah Alonzo (I’m obsessed with her take downs of MLMs) on YouTube more often than usual.
This is the definition of procrastinating, which is nothing more than stalling by using a series of bad tactics.
Procrastinating feels awful in the moment. But what’s weird is that our brain tricks us into thinking it will make us feel better.
According to functionpoint.com, procrastination, though it feels better in the moment, is an escape mechanism to avoid FEAR.
However, in more recent studies psychologists have understood procrastination to be closely related to our emotional brain—a coping mechanism driven by our own fear of failure. By avoiding tasks that are intimidating and overwhelming, and focusing on something less stressful, we give our brain temporary relief. Unfortunately, as all procrastinators know, the end result is usually the last-minute rush to complete projects, coupled with intensified anxiety, a lack of sleep, and reduced quality of work.“The Psychology of Procrastination”
I personally understand this feeling well. All my life I’ve been a procrastinator, starting at an extremely young age when I would fail to begin even menial tasks, like picking up my room or brushing my teeth.
Over the years, my procrastinations loomed larger: a paper due, an oil change needed for my car, a life decision I was trying to make.
Procrastinating on the small things leads us to the very bad habit of procrastinating on the big things.
The hardest part of procrastinating is that we often start to develop a mistrust of our own psyches. But I have a theory that this mistrust is what causes procrastination in the first place.
I came to understand this after I started practicing the idea of returning to my childhood to heal what was broken. (If you’re curious about this, there’s a post coming, but here’s a post to help you in the mean time.)
As I searched back through my childhood and began practicing old activities that I wanted to reclaim, I found that I couldn’t remember many times that my parents had given any kind of positive praise.
Actually, I found that I couldn’t remember a single time. No, not one.
That’s not to say that they never praised me at all, but as Dr. Phil says, “It take 1000 attaboys to fix a single ‘you’re a failure.'”
I completely agree. And the sad fact of the matter is, I simply didn’t grow up in a healthy, whole, happy environment.
Like it or not, our childhoods shape our adulthood.
Let me be quick to say, I don’t blame my parents at all. We all do the best we can, and when we know better, we do.
But the lack of love or positivity definitely had an effect on me as an adult.
And my procrastination of important things only grew worse the older I became.
Honestly, I still have a long way to go.
Recently, I realized my procrastination was back with a bang.
I’d put off planning lessons for school for a couple of weeks.
I hadn’t cleaned my house in over a month.
Laundry was piling, and I was waking up early, but not getting anything done.
When procrastination takes over, life is paralyzing.
I’ve learned over the last few years of practicing sobriety that if you’re not going to use alcohol to drown out your problems, you better think of something, and fast, because the problems will not just vanish.
While in my moments of procrastination, I often seek to escape, the truth is, I’ve gotten better about confronting whatever is bothering me.
Meditation and journaling are two activities that have helped me pinpoint the issues that are bothering me and know they’re there, even when the ability to control them is out of my hands.
For example, sometimes we are stuck in a situation we’d rather leave, for reasons too long to explain in one post.
Staying instead of quitting and running is super hard when you’re in the middle of a bout with procrastination.
I’m usually a cut my losses and bounce kind of girl, so the staying put in the midst of serious adversity has me feeling all kinds of discomfort.
But I’m realizing that discomfort isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, we humans often grow the most through adversity, not ease.
It’s one of those things that I believe the Creator of the Universe uses for His Glory, which ultimately shines back on us.
When we overcome bad circumstances, it builds resilience in our souls, not only to face the next task, but also to help others overcome what they might be facing.
In other words, procrastination is just a way to skirt around feeling uncomfortable, except, it usually backfires.
Now that I’m learning what triggers my procrastination, I’m calling it out so I can deal with it the best way possible.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned in dealing with procrastination is that I have to learn to be proactive instead of reactive.
- Anytime we allow outside forces to dictate inside behavior, we’re being reactive.
- If our actions occur based off the actions of another, we’re being reactive.
- And when we blame, shame or act lame, either to ourselves or to others, we’re definitely being reactive.
Recognizing those behaviors is half the battle.
We can’t control others’ behavior. We want to, and we try to. We manipulate situations, thinking we can make others’ actions work in our favor.
But that never happens, does it?
And instead, we end up frustrated and bitter.
I’ll admit I’m a pretty passive-aggressive person.
One thing I’ve started doing is forcing myself to be confrontational.
That is really difficult for a woman who grew up walking on eggshells to placate the feelings of those around me, especially the men.
Having to confront my male bosses about issues at work has been one of the hardest, but most necessary things I’ve done.
And it’s especially hard when you take the time to be proactive but nothing changes.
It’s tempting to revert back to reactive-mode.
We have to face the fact that we are not always going to get our way, and sometimes, we have to step out in fear and move on when something isn’t working for us in our current situation.
When faced with this choice to continue on in massive adversity, I recently made the decision to say, enough is enough!
And while I not all of us can make that decision today, I do feel we all get there eventually.
In the meantime, I’m working on not using procrastination as an escape tool.
I’m pinpointing ways that procrastination is “helping” me (it’s not really helping me at all) avoid the fear I have of change, failure and confrontation.
I will get there.
But not before I finish this back of Cool Ranch Doritos while binging on Instagram.
Be gracious with me, folks.
See you soon,
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