Why are we lazy? How to stop postponing matters for later and overcome procrastination
There is such an unpleasant phenomenon - procrastination - this is what we are doing to cope with the anxiety that arises at the beginning of work on the task and in trying to bring it to the end. Someone, avoiding important business, begins to dig in small and not urgent ones, someone on the eve of the annual report recalls that he had long been going to make out things in the closet ... How could he stop postponing things for later and pull to the last?
Why do we put things off
"Why are you putting things off?" The most frequent answer to this question is: "Because I am lazy." However, even the most avid procrastinators are not deprived of the motivation and energy that they use in some areas of their life - sports, hobbies, reading, caring for other people, music, investing, gardening or sitting on the Internet.
Many are making progress in those areas of activity that they have chosen for themselves, but at the same time are completely unable to start working in other areas.
According to my theory, neither laziness, nor disorganization, nor any other character flaw can be considered the reason why you colorize. It is impossible to explain the procrastination and the assumption that people are by nature lazy and therefore they need pressure from outside to motivate.
My system is based on Dr. Martin Seligman’s theory of positive psychology, which Dr. Susan Kobaza of the University of Chicago calls "psychological guidelines that enhance human initiative and the ability to quickly restore mental and physical well-being." According to her research at The Hardy Personality, an optimistic interpretation of human behavior is often not taken into account when it comes to how people cope with difficulties. Similarly, in Anatomy of an Illness and The Healing Heart, Norman Cousins says that modern medicine doesn’t actually notice the life-affirming healing powers that we have from nature, and prefers to focus on the disease, while humor, positive emotions and thoughts have healing properties .
"If a person is endowed with the ability to be positive and active, then why are we afraid and postpone the unpleasant?" - you can ask. One explanation was given by Denis Waitley, author of The Psychology of Winning and The Joy of Working. He defines procrastination as the "neurotic form of behavior in order to protect the individual," in particular self-esteem. That is, we procrastinate when our self-esteem or independence is threatened. We begin to be lazy only when our natural irresistible desire for fruitful activity is endangered or does not get out. “No one will color it in order to feel bad,” says Wateley. “Only in order to temporarily reduce their deep inner fears.”
What are these deep inner fears that make us look for such unproductive forms of deliverance from them? Dr. Theodore Rubin in his book Compassion and Self-Hate suggests that it is precisely the fear of failure, the fear of being imperfect (perfectionism) and the fear of waiting for something impossible (when we are overwhelmed with different tasks) that do not allow us to work properly or to achieve achievable goals, to build relations.
Fear of failure means that you are convinced that even the smallest mistake can prove your worthlessness. The fear of being imperfect means that you find it difficult to accept yourself as you are - imperfect and, therefore, completely human - therefore any criticism, rejection or condemnation from other people puts your subtle understanding of what is completely, at risk. Fear of waiting for something impossible signals your fear that even after you have done a good job and achieved your goals, your only reward will be more and more new, more complex goals that promise no rest and no time to enjoy your fruits. works.
These fears, according to Dr. Rubin, do not allow us to achieve the standard of living when we feel empathy for ourselves and respect ourselves here and now - for who we are and where we are at the moment. This self-empathy is essential in overcoming the underlying causes of procrastination. You need to understand: procrastination does not mean that you have a problem character; rather, it is an attempt - albeit unimportant - to cope with the fear that is knocking out of the saddle to expose oneself to general condemnation.
The fear of conviction is rooted in over-identifying yourself with your work. This fear follows the destructive perfectionism, the harsh self-criticism and the fear that you will have to deprive yourself of free time in order to please the invisible judge.
Benefit of procrastination
Having worked with thousands of procrastinators, I realized that there is one main reason for procrastination: it gives temporary relief from stress. The main reason why we acquire a habit, according to Dr. Frederick Kanfer and Dr. Jeanie Phillips, expressed in the Learning Foundations of Behavior Therapy book, is that even the worst habit leads to reward. Procrastination reduces stress, distracting us from what we perceive as a source of pain or a threat. The more discomfort is expected from work, the more actively you will try to avoid it and try to find salvation in something more pleasant. And the more you feel that endless work deprives you of the pleasure obtained from free time, the more actively you will avoid it.
In a sense, we are looking for a way to postpone the case to temporarily reduce the anxiety associated with its implementation. If it turns out that the work that we considered necessary is not really necessary, we feel justified and receive a double reward for procrastination. It turns out that we not only used it to cope with our fears, but also saved our strength.
There are many situations in which postponing cases for later is rewarded and turns out to be a solution to the problem.
- Randomly deferred boring task is performed by someone else.
- If you postpone the purchase of something for a long time, then in the end wait for the sale or this thing will cease to be fashionable.
- Often, procrastination passes with impunity: almost everyone in childhood has ever experienced because he was not ready for a test or an exam, and all this inhuman tension passed in one second, it was worth hearing the news that the teacher fell ill or the reason you don’t need to go to school this day - all this teaches you to colorize in the hope that a miracle will happen again.
- By taking a pause to cool off, you have avoided serious quarrels with your parents, teachers, bosses or friends.
- Difficult situations are sometimes resolved themselves, if you wait for additional information or rely on the will of a happy event, etc.
Procrastination is believed to be an independent problem rather than a symptom of other problems. And, unfortunately, this diagnosis, instead of directing your efforts to break the cycle of pressure-fear-procrastination, only worsens the situation, since it places the blame on you for such a terrible habit. Surrounding in one voice asserts that "you need to get together; just do it."
And you try hundreds of different methods, make lists, work out a schedule to force yourself to get down to work with a creak, but the results turn out to be disappointing, because similar methods attack procrastination, and at the same time you as its source, instead of attacking the problems that led to that.
When we identify our value through work (“I am what I do”), then, naturally, without having protective psychological mechanisms, we are very reluctant to take risks. If you think that when you condemn your work, people actually condemn you, then perfectionism, self-criticism and procrastination become the necessary forms of protection. Seeing your indecisiveness, which prevents you from taking up the cause or, on the contrary, completing what you have begun, the person controlling you or family members — often out of good intentions — begin to cheer you up or, on the contrary, to pressure or even threaten. And when a conflict arises between your internal fears of making a mistake or being imperfect and the external demands of other people, you begin to seek salvation in procrastination. And this can lead to a destructive cycle.
Procrastination does not give rise to this behavioral stereotype. It is merely a reaction to perfectionist or exorbitant demands, as well as the fear that even small mistakes will cause destructive criticism and cause failure.
One can learn to use procrastination in three main cases:
- as an indirect way to avoid the pressure of the authorities;
- as a way to reduce the fear of failure, justifying their behavior, far from perfect;
- as a defense mechanism against the fear of success that keeps us from being able to express ourselves.
Having more thoroughly studied the main causes of procrastination, we will be able to understand which of them allow us to identify the causes of our own problem.