What Happens to Us When We Procrastinate?
Almost everything we do is compensation for, or avoidance of, emotional or physical discomfort, and that is what procrastination is all about: your body-mind organism trying to find relief from discomfort.
The case of procrastination, when we face a task or activity that we find aversive, challenging, or representative of something that we might not be conscious of, a number of negative affect states result.
An affect is a broad term that encompasses all emotions, moods or even a very slight “feeling”.
The moment there is a HINT of frustration, resentment, boredom, anxiety, fear of failure, uncertainty, disgust, or dissatisfaction, the amygdala in our brain, responsible for fight or flight responses, sends our messages to tense our muscles up and increase our respiration rate.
The Increased muscle tension and respiration can be interpreted as danger signals by the mitochondria, resulting in further amygdala activation which then results in additional increase in muscle tension and respiration. Before you know it, you are feeling very uncomfortable.
And when you consider how much exposure we have to marketing and that the goal of marketing is to increase dissatisfaction our muscles are much more tense than we realize! We may not even be consciously aware of any of it.
If a task triggers any feelings of overwhelm, apathy, discouragement, inadequacy, confusion, loneliness or of being unsupported, unimportant, or overlooked, the amygdala is activated, and a vicious cycle of growing discomfort ensues.
The body-mind organism seeks a solution to this discomfort, and the solution, be it a short term one, is to put off the task. We say “I will do it tomorrow… I will feel like doing it more later… I don’t want to do that now”. VOILA! Procrastination is the solution to the discomfort.
Procrastination is the body-mind organism’s way of calming itself down. It is a survival strategy and a survival mechanism, a compensatory action to calm the defense mechanism and stress it causes to the body and mind.
The problem with this short term solution is that not doing something important eventually has consequences. Whether it does or not, procrastination, more often than not leads to self blame, guilt, and eventually shame. This in turn, can lead to depression, prolonged anxiety and many other disease states.
What to do About Procrastination?
The first thing is to recognize that it is not a character flaw or personality trait. The next thing is to take concrete, effective steps to stopping procrastination.
STEP 1: Bring your awareness to the muscle tension in your body.
STEP 2: Purposely slow, deepen and calm your breathing.
These steps can be accomplished by using the tension releasing technique of breathing into the parts of the body that are tense. Imagine the breath carrying the tension away.
** For effective methods to help you learn to do this, click on this link for FREE ACCESS to the EGO Alchemy Process. In particular, you might find meditations 1, Life is Light and 3. Surrendering the most inspiring.
STEP 3: Once you feel relaxed and calmed down: Observe your situation, thoughts and emotions without interpreting or judging or reacting.
STEP 4: Acknowledge all the reasons that you would prefer doing anything else except the task at hand. Allow all the feelings of aversion to just be there.
STEP 5: Once you have just accepted that negative emotions arose & triggered your fight or flight response, just name the thoughts and feelings that arise, but don’t identify with them. Accept the negativity, but don’t buy into it. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but not life threatening.
This should get you to be able to get back on track. If you feel more help is needed because it has become an ingrained habit, you will need the next step
STEP 6: Apply self inquiry. Emotions are E-Motions: Energy in Motion, contemplative self inquiry) can help you discover the subtle energetic origins of emotions in your body through the experiencing of subtle sensations.
The MICH Noumedynamic Method
The MICH Noumedynamic Method is a way to experience and learn contemplative self-inquiry that goes right down to the deepest, most fundamental energetic dimension of emotions. Contact an Ego-Alchemy facilitator to bring you through the process.
About Judyann McNamara, DHOM, N.D., DHP
Originally a physicist and biomedical researcher (biophysics), Judyann has had a clinical practice for over 25 years, has held conferences since 1984 and has been a teacher of courses in physics, science, health, holism and spirituality since 1975. She is a Homeopath with classical unicist training, a Naturopath, and the founder of MICH.
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