Understand the link between procrastination and anxiety with resident Counsellor and Hypnotherapist, Lucia Garcia at Shine, Stoke Newington.
Procrastination, or the act of continually postponing things we need to do, can become a burden and a source of anxiety for a lot of people.
Let’s say you have a very important project you need to work on, or that you truly desire to achieve a goal for yourself, such as writing a book. You wake up in the morning with the firm idea of working hard through the day. You make a cup of coffee and sit down to work, excited and full of energy. Sitting down in front of the computer you notice the task is not flowing smoothly; you type a couple of sentences onto the blank page, you read them out loud and feel dissatisfied with them. The next action you take while at your computer is to open Facebook. There you find an article about something completely unrelated to what you are doing. Before you know it, three hours have passed, you have checked several Facebook posts by friends and family, read several articles and done some online shopping.
At this point, you are feeling guilty. Now writing your book is no longer a project that is bringing you joy and excitement, but instead has become a task that seems unachievable and is now making you feel uncomfortable. Occasionally you glance at the blank page, with the two sentences still there. You stare at them in your best attempt to continue with your project, and after a few minutes, you have gotten distracted again.
By the end of the day, this process has happened on several occasions, until you feel completely uninspired. You decide it is better to leave it altogether and return when you can focus.
What has happened subconsciously and emotionally in you that stopped you from writing and finishing your project? How is it that you have gone from feeling excited about doing something to feeling stressed and avoiding it?
At some point, you felt your work wasn’t good enough. You looked at what you wrote and almost instantly, decided to engage in an easier, non-challenging and non-productive task.
Most of our behaviour is based in the subconscious mind. The subconscious is like software that constantly runs in the back of your mind. It contains, among other things, your beliefs, your fears, your hopes, and your memories. With this information, the subconscious activates behaviours and thoughts that are designed to keep you safe from feeling pain or discomfort. It doesn’t matter if the behaviours you do are not helpful for you anymore. In the past, even in your childhood, that behaviour kept you safe, and now your subconscious keeps repeating it in an attempt to help you.
For the subconscious, there is no past, present or future. Everything happens in the present, so if the behaviour worked for you before, it should work for you again now. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and what works for us as children, doesn’t quite fit what we need as adults.
How does this apply to procrastination and anxiety?
When you started writing and it wasn’t flowing, you didn’t feel you were good enough to do the job. Your well-intentioned subconscious took care of the situation so you wouldn’t have to feel discomfort. By searching through Facebook, the discomfort went away momentarily. However, after a short time anxiety started to kick in, since at a conscious level you know it is in your best interest to write your book today. At this point you are now dealing with two very uncomfortable emotions: feeling unskilled at something and feeling anxious. Now, two different levels of emotional discomfort are feeding your procrastination habit. The longer we repeat this cycle, the more difficult the task becomes for us and the worse we feel about ourselves until in the end, we quit altogether.
How can you stop this cycle of procrastination?
It is essential first to become aware of the lack of trust you might have in your own capacity to do things. Do you genuinely believe that you can do this? If you have doubts about your abilities, can you truly do your best not to give up?
Through Counselling and Hypnotherapy, at Shine, Stoke Newington, we can work on these underlying emotions that stop us from moving forward…
Not feeling good enough to complete a project carries the fear of failure (and sometimes even the fear of success). If we can reach the subconscious and relearn that we are good enough and that we can realize our goals, then we will have a strong foundation to achieve anything we set out to do.
Believing in ourselves is the basic core of anything we set to accomplish. And with the help of a hypnotherapist or a counsellor, the pattern of behaviour can be broken down to very small details. In this way, you will be able to observe very familiar symptoms in your process of procrastination, that might help you to avoid falling into the trap of distraction.
Overall, the cycle of anxiety and procrastination can be broken. With the right help and assistance, you can gain the confidence to move forward with what you desire to attain, and you can discover parts of yourself you never thought existed. Stop procrastinating and seek help if you need to.
For information about her work or for a consultation, email Lucia directly at [email protected]
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