Deadlines have been part of my world from a young age. Working in a take away food store as a young teenager meant I was on the go with food, serving, cooking on the hot plate and delivering to the customer. All at the age of twelve.
My writing coach would not agree I am a procrastinator. She only sees the result in her inbox. But I am. For months I have relished in the information and toolbox she has taught me, yet regularly my pen is left suspended mid-air. It’s all there, and the message is within me ready to be shared. I drag my feet until there is a crunch time to deliver my next instalment.
Observing my procrastination has helped me share the insights with my fertility and intimacy clients. Both of these realms are renowned for ‘putting things off’.
When clients present with procrastination, I assure them the inner journey commenced a while ago. They are ready for answers.
Procrastination has benefits, unconscious to most. The tiring internal dialogue and beating ourselves grip the body, as answers are coaxed to the surface.
It’s easy to find examples of feet dragging. Kids don’t complete chores or fail to meet university deadlines. Friends are unsure if they can attend a night out. Eager clients cancel sessions at the last minute.
Waiting to the last moment to produce results forces us to focus. Senses are sharpened and the deliverable is rewarding. Even if the initial hesitation leaves you feeling dense and heavy. It’s overturned by the result of pressing send or handing your efforts over. Done and dusted. But is that true for emotional procrastination? Let’s explore further.
When I worked in the pharmaceutical industry, accuracy and deadlines were paramount. Lives were at stake. Work under this environment didn’t fuel my procrastination, but it did for other staff members. Deadlines were constantly pushed and so was my anxiety.
My work involved forward planning and risk management. Project management was based around new products reaching world markets by a launch date. This was a job with routine and proven results. But the anxiety wasn’t sustainable for the long term. Sanity was at risk.
Anxiety became part of my life. Exploring anxiety, I saw it was an energy source I fed from. It became a motivator. The body recognised procrastination, then fired off anxiety. This was a prelude to adrenaline being released to charge up action. Great in small doses, but not as a way of life.
Procrastination is closely linked to perfectionism. Being indecisive until all avenues are scoped to ensure a high quality deliverable is attained. Great for task-related work. Not so great for being humanly perfect all the time.
That is exhausting.
We cannot rely on procrastination when dealing with emotional states and relationship dynamics. Adrenaline and last minute deadlines are saboteurs. This level of hesitation breeds guilt, shame and negative inner dialogue. In my experience it feeds unworthiness whilst your inner silence grows in intensity.
The inner words turn against you like an arsenal of weaponry, affecting your mental health.
Emotional procrastination feels like asphyxiation when left unresolved. It is a misplaced mechanism, using avoidance to cope with emotions. Not cleaning up dishes, failing to save for the holiday or avoiding emotional upset are all run by the same captain.
My procrastinated writing days see me in the kitchen. Great for my kids, not so great for my mental clarity, health and positioning of my message. When I catch myself cooking for hours during the work day, I ask if I’m procrastinating or genuinely enjoying myself.
Emotional wellbeing doesn’t need your procrastination. It needs your trust and loving presence. It requires your attention and will to create change. Instead of the reward of procrastination and it’s friends (cooking when you should be working), you will feel something new bubbling to the surface – and yes there will be fear and excitement – and have skills and presence to guide yourself to change.
And that is most gratifying.
What are you waiting for?