Procrastination and what to do about it.
I sometimes put off talking about difficult things, especially with people who are close to my heart. Procrastination is a kind of freeze response of the nervous system. We don't really avoid the situation – in my example, the conversation – but the emotion that comes with it.
Thinking about it often brings up feelings of fear and anxiety and then it's as if I disappear into a curtain of fog. I don't hear or feel anything anymore, I'm numb. It can also manifest itself in a tight feeling in the chest, shallow breathing, increased heart rate, sweating hands.
So procrastination is a way to avoid any kind of pain such as being rejected, being judged, not being good enough, not being loved... We use different strategies to deal with this. The thing we put off can be so overwhelming that you start suppressing, rejecting or ignoring it, completely blocking it, worrying excessively, numbing yourself so as not to have to deal with it,...
Almost everyone struggles with procrastination, and it comes in many forms. It's something natural and common, but in the long run it can be very destructive.
It is important to know that forcing yourself through it is not a solution, because if you know the freeze response, then you know that forcing causes you to freeze even more.
Understanding the ways in which you avoid or reject difficult emotions is a start to learning to respond to those forms of distress and discomfort in a different way.
Such as being curious about the fear and anxiety that the freeze response brings about. If we connect with that scared part of ourselves and curiously and compassionately ask ourselves questions: What are you afraid of? What are you afraid to feel? How real and threatening is my idea of the situation? How can I support myself in this? What do I need?
The inner work can bring about so much beauty once you dare to look yourself in the eye. It is a process of developing love, compassion and patience with yourself, and it takes courage.
By creating a safe space, being honest with yourself, looking for the truth, daring to express it and being vulnerable, you let the nervous system soften its protection and defenses. That way you can experience the deepest emotions such as anger, sadness, grief,... see them, feel them fully and give them space to transform.