As I struggle with this crazy procrastination tendency, every now and again I hear a voice in my head which goes back to my counselling training – if you keep repeating a behaviour pattern that seems so very clearly unconstructive, there must be a reason. What’s the pay-off? What is it that you’re subconsciously hoping to get through doing this?
Sometimes I think the answer is: hey, if I keep putting things off and not doing what I should be doing, I’ll get the chance to hate myself, and that’s really fun, isn’t it?
[I think there are a zillion different reasons why people procrastinate, but the one I mention here – it’s a very real and painful one for me. I just wanted to share it here, as it helps to say things out loud. I’m not looking for alternative suggestions. I’m not even looking for advice on how to deal with this one. Thanks.]
So where was I?
Hating myself. Yes, this is one of the effects of procrastination for me. Sometimes, not always. When I let it get really really bad, when I keep putting things off even though I’ve really really decided that it’s time I tackled them, when I have absolutely no excuses (it’s not that I’m too busy or too tired or too anything), when I have determined that today is the day and I don’t allow myself to do fun things instead and even if I do fun things instead I don’t enjoy them really because I have not allowed myself to do them…
Let me try and unpack that one. Doing things for fun – I recognise that it’s actually an important part of life, that we need a healthy balance, and I regard it as totally reasonable and rational and grown-up to say, for example: today I’m having a day off and doing just fun things; or: I have a task to do, but I’m going to take a half-hour’s break and do sudoku; or: I’m going to start doing this task at 5pm and until then I’ll play this computer game. I consider taking time out for fun to be an important part of life.
And when I make a rational choice like the ones I described, that’s when I can really enjoy my fun time. No guilt, no embarrassment, no worries about tasks on my to do list, just pure enjoyment of whatever it is I chose to do on my break or my day off.
But when it gets to what I think of as the really unpleasant stage of procrastination, when it gets to the point when I’m just putting off the task and actually that is the thing I’m focused on – if you ask me what I’m doing, my honest answer would be: I’m procrastinating… when it gets to that stage, I start to hate myself, and I don’t enjoy what I’m doing, because I haven’t actually given myself permission to do it.
It’s like there’s a part of me that’s rebelling against another part of me, it’s a weird sort of internal struggle. I’m not sure it’s inner adult versus inner child – don’t know really, and maybe as I carry on with the counselling I’m receiving, I’ll get at what’s going on there. For now I think I’m going to call that part the Inner Saboteur.
The Inner Saboteur, for reasons I have yet to identify, really wants me to hate myself. For some reason my I.S. feels that hating myself is the correct state of affairs, that this is how things should be. My I.S. does not want me to feel okay about myself, it does not want me to pat myself on the shoulder and feel a sense of achievement.
Ah!!! Now I see why I.S. reared its ugly head today – because I had a really good conversation with a friend last night, and part of it was me remembering stuff in my past and saying: oh wow, I’ve come a long way…
Interesting… and I remember thinking of even posting something about that online, saying something like: looking back can be really helpful sometimes, because you can see how far you’ve come…
So that’s why I got like this today? Very interesting.
Okay, maybe I need to go back to where I was, and post that positive stuff I was going to share…
hitting publish without checking, because this post needs to just go as it is, rough and unpolished. apologies if there are any typos. I’m human.