[July 3, 2007]
Although this will be in the podcast, most of you have been waiting for this since February, so I don’t want to delay any longer. I think it is so funny (in a sick kind of way) that the subject of Procrastination took so long to get done! hee hee I’d love for any of you with psychology or psychiatry backgrounds to comment on this!
[MICHAEL ON PROCRASTINATION
Procrastination is often seen as a personal problem to be solved or cured as a means to be more productive or to allow more fulfillment, but we have never seen this as an issue that is necessarily negative, but more an element within the personality that is misunderstood and can be harnessed in ways that do bring more fulfillment and productivity without having to engage in some internal battle. We would define Procrastination as “a preference for pleasure over productivity.”
The root of Procrastination is not dread, as many have concluded, but OPTIMISM. There are very few fragments engaging in Procrastination that are not also engaging in a form of optimism; a trust that things will work out, that one will be able to handle the consequences, that others will be understanding, that one can correct a situation, that it is never “too late,” etc. Although this can look to be a negative trait because of the inconvenience it can cause, it is actually a deep trust that is simply misunderstood in your current culture of enforced ambition, time-centric definitions of responsibility, and immediate results. In an Older Soul world, time and productivity are never higher in priority over synchronicity and pleasure, but you do not live in an older soul world, so it is often not appropriate to disregard the current contexts of Young Soul values if one wants to participate in the world. To understand why one has inclinations toward what is called Procrastination can help one to make a more gentle choice to regard time and productivity as equally important values to pleasure and synchronicity. One does not have to choose one extreme over another, but can find a balance.
Procrastination, like every other description of energy in your world, could be described as having Positive and Negative Poles:
In the positive pole, one uses Procrastination to simply do things at one’s own pace and sense of priority, ultimately getting things done, even if laced with pressure, disappointments, distress, anxiety, etc.
In the negative pole there is either an inclination to busy oneself with trivial or distracting tasks to completely avoid the pressing responsibility, or a paralyzing of choice to do anything, choosing instead to do nothing.
For those who engage in Procrastination, there is a similar pattern of imprinting that must be addressed before freeing oneself from the inner battle that is self-imposed. In nearly all cases of chronic procrastination, we have seen 3 influences that have not been fully addressed, each building upon the other:
1. resistance/distaste for authority;
2. by extension, an extreme distaste for absolute obligation;
3. by further extension, a distaste for lack of immediate reward/pleasure from the effort.
These three influences are the inspiration behind the fragment’s sense of Optimism. This is because there is a subtle, if not strong, pleasure gained from holding out against the authority, obligation, and while it is not the most ideal reward, it is more rewarding than conceding. Many who practice Procrastination can attest to this habit being linked not only to the obvious obligations, but to experiences that could be seen as pleasurable, and this can be confusing. We suggest that it is not confusing, but that the “pleasurable” agenda that is avoided or delayed still has some kind of air of obligation attached to it, or Procrastination would not be involved. In nearly all fragments who engage in Procrastination, there is a history of some form of oppressive force in the life that required a form of Optimism as a means to endure and get through to the other side. This optimistic force is then used as a means to deal with any form of authority or obligation, to help keep a focus on dealing with the consequences and responsibilities on the other side of the avoidance and delays.
For the most part, Procrastination then is harmless, even when it interferes with many obligations and responsibilities. If any procrastinator would look closely at his or her life, it would be evident that procrastination is NOT a factor in all aspects of the life, but in only those areas somehow interpreted as being imposed, even when those impositions are chosen or seen as potentially pleasurable. The pleasurable experiences that are avoided are often attached to the phrase, “I really should get around to doing that; that would be fun.” But even the pleasurable agendas can get categorized into “obligations” once a delay has already begun.
The greatest pain caused by procrastination is when the adult becomes his or her own authority, but the distaste for authority and obligation remains without intelligent discernment of the source of authority. In other words, a division is created within the self between the aspect who assigns or chooses the obligations and the one who must carry it out. The distaste for oneself as authority is often overlooked as it is easy to displace this distaste as directed toward those indirectly involved with the choices or assignments one takes on. In addition, the more pain involved with procrastination, the more there is a tendency for that fragment to consume stimulants such as caffeine, sugars, and alcohol as a means to increase valid distractions for the body. It is important to note that the pain of procrastination is not caused by the procrastination, itself, but by the resistance to what has been deemed the “authority,” and when this is inherently the self, it is quite painful to divide oneself in this manner. In effect, the pain is a result of creating an “innocent” side of oneself vs a “bad guy” side of self. Having to manage the energy that it takes to sustain this division, along with the emotional impact of such inner rejection vs protection, can be exhausting. This is why we suggest that this is not a dynamic that is to be cured or overcome, but simply to be understood. Once this unnecessary division is comprehended, a wholeness begins to unfold as a form of freedom, expanding the ability to choose more appropriately to the life’s context.
It has been speculated by many of our students that the Moving Center is somehow connected to procrastination as the Moving Center is also connected to productivity and movement, but the Moving Center is rarely the primary energy that is involved. More often than not, it is the Intellectual Center. As Optimism is the root of Procrastination, the Intellectual Center is called upon to be used as the means to justify the procrastination, providing a range between REASONS (negative pole) and INSIGHTS (positive pole) to carry the fragment through time until either the obligation passes, or the obligation is resolved at the “last minute.” The Intellectual Center can find a myriad of “reasons” and “insights” into why one can avoid or delay the obligations. On the negative end (REASON), there is lying involved and a lack of self-regulation that can lead to distractions with stimulations and escapism, which is directly related to the sense of helpless rebellion against authority, while the positive end (INSIGHT) is simply a lack of interest in practical or time-centric obligations as one takes on more important, bigger tasks with bigger rewards as deemed by the self.
Soothing the effects of procrastination within the life means soothing the reactions to authority, which means telling the truth about the present, and acknowledging the past as the past. For most procrastinators, there is an element of the self that is locked in past battles with oppressive authorities and any indication in the present of another authority is a reliving of that distaste. Bringing the self into the present with the truth (“I am my own choice, not a result of someone else’s choice”) is a means to draw upon the Higher Intellectual Center as a way to bring wholeness to the process of choice and responsibility. It really is as simple as that.
Beyond this, procrastination is a misnomer that describes a way of living life within a culture that upholds ambition and results as being a more stable sign of identity than it does pleasure and freedom. This is not to say that one should fall prey to the effects of procrastination to the point of being incapable of functioning in current times, but more that if one were to understand the inherent division and pattern contributing to procrastination, then one can find one's own definition of productivity and responsibility within the capabilities of the self, and not just defined by external factors. In other words, the external factors that one takes on are CHOSEN in most cases and these can either be chosen with more care and presence, or managed as a whole person telling the truth to oneself, without dividing oneself into authoritarian vs rebel.
Tools for helping the body to be more present so that the Intellect and Higher Intellect can bring insight and truth to your choices:
1. scent of oranges, fresh or essential oil
2. removal or cutting down of stimulants
3. shaking meditation (stand, shake out every part of the body in as comical and fun a way as possible for as long as it feels necessary, then sit for focus)
And remember: you are your friend, not your authority. This simple phrase could be the most profound in setting you free from the negative impact of procrastination.