personally – procrastination is not my thing

Not all the time. Procrastinators are made not born. procrastinate

Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up – not going to happen.

Procrastination is something that most people have at least a little experience with. No matter how well-organized and committed you are, chances are that you have found yourself frittering away hours on trivial pursuits (like watching TV, checking your Facebook status, shopping online) when you should have been spending that time on other projects. procrastinate1

Do you realize that twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators? For them procrastination is a lifestyle, albeit a maladaptive one. And it cuts across all domains of their life. They don’t pay bills on time. They miss opportunities for buying tickets to concerts. They don’t cash gift certificates or checks. They file income tax returns late. They leave their Christmas shopping until Christmas eve.  We all know at least one person like this.

I’m definitely not in the chronic category – but I can be a part-time procrastinator – but only when it doesn’t interfere with my work or life in general. I always make sure to pay bills or file taxes on time, even if it comes down to the very last minute before they’re due.  I hate getting charged a fee for missing the due date – it’s so irresponsible.  I never miss cashing a gift certificate or check mostly because I don’t receive them very often and I always consider the possibility of the institution closing before I get the chance to cash in.  My procrastination is usually exercise involved – but it does get done.  Obviously it is done out of necessity – not love.  I hope that changes.  I just signed up for another half marathon which takes place in August so now I’m wondering if July will be too late to crash-train for it? Maybe that’s a motivational problem instead.  It’s not really the same thing is it?  How do you know if you’re a chronic procrastinator?  Let us count the ways:

1)     Let’s begin by blaming our parents (always a reliable excuse) – after all they set the blueprint for us turning out the way we are.  Why do you think so many of us are seeing shrinks? It is one response to an authoritarian parenting style. Having a harsh, controlling father keeps children from developing the ability to regulate themselves, from internalizing their own intentions and then learning to act on them. Procrastination can be a form of rebellion, one of the few forms available under such circumstances. What’s more, under those household conditions, procrastinators turn more to friends than to parents for support, and their friends may reinforce procrastination because they tend to be tolerant of their excuses.

2)     Procrastination predicts higher levels of consumption of alcohol among those people who drink. Procrastinators drink more than they intend to—a manifestation of generalized problems in self-regulation. That is over and above the effect of avoidant coping styles that underlie procrastination and lead to disengagement via substance abuse.

3)     Procrastinators tell lies to themselves. Such as, “I’ll feel more like doing this tomorrow.” Or “I work best under pressure.” But in fact they do not get the urge the next day or work best under pressure. In addition, they protect their sense of self by saying “this isn’t important.” Another big lie procrastinators indulge is that time pressure makes them more creative. Unfortunately they do not turn out to be more creative; they only feel that way. They squander their resources.

4)     Procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly ones that don’t take a lot of commitment on their part. Checking e-mail is almost perfect for this purpose. They distract themselves as a way of regulating their emotions such as fear of failure.

5)     There’s more than one flavor of procrastination. People procrastinate for different reasons. Here we can identify three basic types of procrastinators:

  1. arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait to the last minute for the euphoric rush.
  2. avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability.
  3. decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision. Not making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events.

6)     There are big costs to procrastination. Health is one. Just over the course of a single academic term, procrastinating college students had such evidence of compromised immune systems as more colds and flu, more gastrointestinal problems. And they had insomnia.  In addition, procrastination has a high cost to others as well as oneself; it shifts the burden of responsibilities onto others, who become resentful. Procrastination destroys teamwork in the workplace and private relationships.

7)     Procrastinators can change their behavior—but doing so consumes a lot of psychic energy. And it doesn’t necessarily mean one feels transformed internally. It can be done with highly structured *cognitive behavioral therapy.

According to psychologist Piers Steel, people who don’t procrastinate tend to be high in the personality trait known as conscientiousness, one of the broad dispositions identified by the Big 5 theory (to be discussed separately in another post) of personality.  People who are high in conscientiousness also tend to be high in other areas including self-discipline, persistence, and personal responsibility.  Falling prey to these cognitive distortions is easy, but fortunately there are a number of different things you can do to fight procrastination and start getting things done on time.

Fear is one of factor that contributes to procrastination. This can involve a fear of failure, a fear of making mistakes, or even a fear of success.  Psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Psychology Today contributor and author of The Search for Fulfillment, suggests that challenging your faulty beliefs is important. If you are afraid of success because you secretly believe that you don’t deserve it, it is important to realize that your self-handicapping might be keeping you from achieving your goals. By addressing the fear that is keeping you from getting started, you can begin to overcome your procrastination habit.

* Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that is guided by the understanding that feelings are very important AND that feelings are informed by our Thoughts and our Behaviours. We can’t change how we Feel but we can interact with our Thoughts and Behaviours in such a way as to invite different Feelings to emerge.

There are 16 key reasons why people procrastinate:

  1. Not knowing what needs to be done
  2. Not knowing how to do something
  3. Not wanting to do something
  4. Not caring if it gets done or not
  5. Not caring when something gets done
  6. Not feeling in the mood to do it
  7. Being in the habit of waiting until the last minute
  8. Believing that you work better under pressure
  9. Thinking that you can finish it at the last minute
  10. Lacking the initiative to get started
  11. Blaming sickness or poor health
  12. ??? – I forget this one
  13.  Forgetting
  14. Waiting for the right moment
  15. Needing time to think about the task
  16. Delaying one task in favor of working on another

My unprofessional theory is that this is a problem generally easy to overcome.  There’s just way too much to do in life and it’s easy to let things start to pile up.  And we tend to take on too many tasks without thinking things through.  If we just try to get things done little by little and stop saying “yes” to people when we really mean “no” things will start to get done.  Just do what you can – don’t take on more than you need to. You’ll feel much better.

 Do you fall into any or a lot of these 15 categories?procrastinate1 (2)

Credit: Psychology Today

INSTINCTS…I have a gut feeling

about basic Human Instincts and wondering what makes us the way we are.  Are we really hardwired? Many of us share the same beliefs and that’s great as long as our general beliefs are decent and well meaning.  I just came across an article on the subject that I’d like to share.human1

Can Human Instincts Be Controlled?

Abstract. Like all animals, humans have instincts, genetically hard-wired behaviors that enhance our ability to cope with vital environmental incidents. Our innate fear of snakes is an example. Other instincts, including denial, revenge, tribal loyalty, greed and our urge to procreate, now threaten our very existence. Any attempt to control human behavior is bound to meet with resistance and disapproval. Unless we can change our behavior, humans are facing the end of civilization. Our problem has several elements. (1) We have invented economic and social systems that encourage greedy behavior, and we have actually institutionalized runaway greed. (2) We are in a state of complete denial about the growth of human populations. (3) Earth’s finite resources simply cannot support 7 billion of us in the style to which we’d like to live. (4) We must make a choice between quantity and quality of human life. (5) To head off the inevitable collapse, we can no longer wait and merely react but we must become proactive. We must find ways to control dangerous human instincts, especially denial, revenge, tribal loyalty, greed and our urge to procreate.

As a wise woman from a third world country once said at the UN: “If the rich countries refuse to share their wealth with us, we will certainly share our poverty with them.”

.©Eric R. Pianka

human2Then I came upon this enlightening article from India’s “The Art of Living.”  I am not a religious person but in this case we can equate the relation to “God” as the divine within each of us. Eat, Pray Love? Which reminds me I must make a trip to India.

There are two basic instincts in human beings and these have been with you in all your lifetimes:

There are two basic instincts in human beings, one is food, and the other is sex. These have been with you in all your lifetimes, when you were an animal and now as a human being. You are born out of these two – food and sex.

It is so beautiful that in this country (India) they connected both of these with the Divinity. Food is connected with God. In the Upanishads, it is said ‘Food is God’. When you consider food as God you will not over eat. You don’t simply stuff food, but you eat food with so much honor. No festival in India goes without food. And when you go to temple the first thing they give is some Prasad. Prasad is just a little bit of food that is given. Without Prasad there is no pilgrimage and no festival. Food is connected with God.

Similarly, sex is also connected with God. Otherwise you keep sex separate and think this is my material life and think of God as different. But here in India, the ancient people, they linked sex to God so that no aspect in you remains away from God. A basic instinct doesn’t remain away from God.  So when you honor sex and consider it as part of the Divinity, then your obsession disappears, lust disappears and sacredness dawns. And the basic instinct, from being an aggressive lust, gets transformed into a submissive love.
This is the ancient thought. But some people are misusing yoga for their enjoyment of the carnal instincts, this is wrong. This is a blunder. It should be the other way around. Whenever there is a carnal instinct transform that into a Divine inner experience.
There is a beautiful word in Sanskrit called Atma Rati, union with one’s being, oneself; rejoicing in one’s own self.

There are two things, Prakriti (nature) and Purusha (consciousness). Nature and consciousness inter play all the time. Your body and soul – your body is female and your soul is male. So their coupling is happening all the time, and seeing that union within oneself is Samadhi.

That is why Samadhi is considered to be a thousand times more joyful than the carnal instincts. Whatever joy sex gives, Samadhi is thousand times more joyful because there is no effort, and there is no action there. It is only Being and just Being. So just the Being consciousness, the play and display of consciousness comes to one’s awareness, comes to one’s experience. This is very beautiful.

Don’t keep any corner of your existence away from Divinity. The Divine should be interwoven into every aspect of your life and this is called Brahmacharya, which means moving with the infinity, uniting with the infinity.

Isn’t that so beautiful?! It is very deep and very high knowledge. If you don’t get it in one time, never mind, keep listening and keep understanding and one day you will say, ‘Ah! That is what Guruji was talking about.’

So here (in India) when you go to any temple anywhere you find both aspects – Shiva and Parvathi which symbolize Prakrati and Purusha, consciousness and matter. This is to first recognize the duality and then see the unity. They are not two, they are not different but they are two sides of the same coin. You are complete.

What does this mean? You are both man and woman. Coming out of this label, ‘I am man’, ‘I am woman’ – Getting out of your identity, this is Vedanta; the highest philosophy of the universe.

We keep identifying ourselves, ‘I am a man’, ‘I am a woman’, ‘I am old’, ‘I am young’, ‘I am educated’, ‘I am illiterate’. Throw away all these labels. What remains is pure consciousness. Do not even say, ‘I am consciousness.’ Just know that you are consciousness and not even say it. Don’t go around saying I am nothing.

Adi Shankar once said, ‘One who labels themselves as something is a fool and one who labels themselves as nothing is a bigger fool.’ One who is nothing does not talk, so just keep quiet. How can you say, ‘I am nothing’, when you are saying something?! There cannot be somebody there saying, ‘I am nothing.’ So keep quiet.

So when you consider the basic instincts of food and sex as sacred then aggression in you disappears and surrender dawns in you. Gratefulness and love dawn in you.

That is when it is said the devotee and the Divine have become One. They have merged into One!human3

It is so fascinating, isn’t it?!