PREVIOUS: Putting things off #4
SITE: ‘Overcoming Procrastination’
BOOK: “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength” by John Tierney, New York Times science writer, & psychologist Roy F. Baumeister.
An unconventional “self-help” book that, much like Timothy Wilson’s ‘Redirect’, grounds its insights & advice in 30 yrs of serious academic research into willfulness & self-control. While the book is fascinating in general, its 3rd chapter “A Brief History of the To-Do List, From God to Drew Carey,” is particularly interesting.
“WHY BOTHER?” underlies all our indecision & procrastination. We don’t take genuine care of ourselves, no matter how busy or cocky we seem to others. On a deep level we’re paralyzed by:
a. Not knowing or having access to our healthy True Self, so we believe we don’t know what we want or like, nor what our rights are!
b. Not being allowed to be our own internal motivator – so our only reason to take actions has to come from outside. We have to use family, a boss, teacher, a cause, religion, a career, friends & lover relationships, AND ultimately our terror of abandonment & punishment to push ourselves. Left to our own devices, we just collapse inward
c. Our Internal Conflicts:
• losing someone, being hurt or punished vs. feeling ‘safe’ (even if that safety is an illusion or self-destructive)
• WIC & PP vs. the Healthy UNIT
• obeying vs. disobeying the Toxic Rules
• old patterns vs. new ways of doing things
• what we want vs. what we’re ‘supposed’ to be, do, think, feel
d. Double messages, originally forced on us by one or more adults, we had no choice but to internalize the resulting Double Binds* (simultaneous but opposing demands, with a penalty for whichever one we can’t fulfill).
• As kids they expected us to do for them (which may still be going on with an elderly parent), taking advantage of us to be their parent substitute – using hints, guilt, shaming, manipulation, demands, threats…. AND were angry / abusive if we did nothing (the penalty)
• BUT THEN were totally dissatisfied with & critical of (the penalty) whatever we did do for them, no matter how much effort we put in, what it cost us, what we had to sacrifice, how clever we were at it….
*EITHER WAY we were/are punished. If they’re still live we compulsively keep trying – to please them, over & over. If they’re not around anymore we often find some other needy, critical person to satisfy – always with the same impossible, painful results!
YES, we’re addicted to the rejection, while maintaining the illusion that we have the power to change them, if only we try hard enough, long enough!
Ultimately, we stopped trying – but only for ourselves, because:
• we’re still waiting for them to approve of us, & give us permission to have a life of our own life (free us of their bondage because we don’t believe we can do it ourselves!)
• we’re convinced that if we failed with them (the family, also school, religion), it’s inevitably that we’ll fail with everything & everyone else, so there’s no point in trying
• we’re waiting for someone – anyone – to come & rescue us so we don’t ever have to be our own parent!
FACING our INNER REACTIONS
• Unfortunately, delaying inevitable responsibilities (as well as ones we’ve taken on voluntarily) creates endless obsession & self-recrimination. “”I’m just lazy by nature”, “I can’t do anything right” , “I’ll just mess it up – again” ….
So why would we rather worry ourselves sick than ‘just do it’?
• we SAY it’s just a habit – but it’s really our self-hate
• we’re used to longing for things, rather than having them
• we’re waiting to be taken care of
• we think we don’t know how, even tho we actually do
• staying loyal to the family by copying how those adults ‘handled’ daily actions & problems
• we’re not allowed to do things easily because suffering is the norm (if it’s too easy it doesn’t count)
NEXT: Procrastination #6