Strategies For Overcoming Procrastination

by Mark Ivar Myhre on November 6, 2011

About a month ago, a reader asked me to write about procrastination.  What I’ve discovered in the last 30 days has changed my life, and I hope it can help you as well.  See, I’ve stumbled across a hidden energy that’s virtually unknown in society today, and it seems to be as fundamental as the discovery of the emotional wellspring that exists inside each one of us.

Not to digress, but the emotional wellspring is the flow of energy that comes from your Creator and bubbles up inside of you.  When you let the energy flow, it allows for all sorts of wonderful changes in your life.  At the very least, it can end depression and anxiety and all that stuff that comes from an unhealthy relationship with your emotions. That’s what it did for me, anyway.

This new energy I’ve discovered has also started to flow into me.  It’s almost like I’ve broken some sort of hydraulic line and now this energy is just gushing into me and flowing into every area of my life.  And everything is different now.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Obviously, you can read about strategies for overcoming procrastination on the internet, such as the classic by Albert Ellis, and the more modern viewpoint from Steve Pavlina.  They’re both very good at going out and hunting down procrastination as if it were a wild animal.  Shooting it, then taking the carcass back to the laboratory and slicing it up to see what it was made of.

And there is some value in an autopsy.  What’s missing, of course, is the aliveness, the juiciness, the wonder of it.  In other words, the feelings.  The emotion.

So I want to take a slightly different viewpoint, rather than the behavior therapy techniques you can read elsewhere.  (They’re better at dissection than I am, anyway.)

In my thirty day journey into myself, I found I procrastinate quite a bit more than I imagined I did. And during that time, I wrote two previous articles, but ended up tossing them, because I kept feeling there was more to the story.  Thank God I kept going!  Because  I discovered an intoxicating energy just a few days ago that is already changing my life.  It makes procrastination laughable to me now.  So it’s not even an issue any more. (Hopefully!  We’ll see how it goes…)


Basically, I see procrastination as a diversionary tactic that helps you avoid responsibility.  I tell myself that what I’m ‘supposed’ to do is unpleasant.  So instead of feeling something I don’t want to feel (feeling unpleasant), I’ll substitute a different activity that is pleasant.

It’s a fascinating pattern, if you think about it.  And all too often, it becomes habituated.  Just like an addiction.  I can become addicted to the short term ‘hit’ I get by seeking some meaningless pleasant activity rather than the perceived unpleasant activity I should be doing.

If you typically put off paying your bills until they become overdue, that’s a good example of an habituated procrastination pattern.

Classic strategies for overcoming procrastination involve challenging your behaviors and your thinking and your faulty beliefs that lead you to rationalize putting off important actions or tasks. And the strategies might work, if you follow them.  But if you already live a prioritized, organized life, than you probably don’t procrastinate in the first place.

And there’s the rub.  Because to change procrastination, you will need to change yourself first.  But most people would rather be a procrastinator who doesn’t procrastinate. And that won’t work.  We might say we want to change, but when the rubber hits the road, we often retreat.  Therefore, let me first give you my…

Strategy For Overcoming Procrastination With The Least Amount Of Change Possible

When I put off something important that truly would be better done now, I tell myself that I will feel unpleasant if I do this task.  It will make me feel uncomfortable in some way.

In other words, I tell myself a story. Usually, the story is so automatic I don’t even recognize what I’m doing.  It’s just a knee jerk reaction.  I think of what I need to do.  It conjures unpleasant images in my mind.  I don’t want to manifest those images, so I distract myself by doing something I know is pleasant.

How do I change it?

Well, I know from experience that if I avoid feeling any feeling, that’s not good.  Because…

  1. It’s a waste of time to avoid.
  2. It takes my power.
  3. It makes me think less of myself.
  4. It sets me up for a more unpleasant experience in the future.
  5. It sends the wrong message to my subconscious and myself.
  6. It says I don’t create my own reality.
  7. It says I’m separate.
  8. It’s selfish.
  9. It’s short-sighted.
  10. And I’m not being wise and I’m not seeing the big picture when I avoid.

So, uh, then why do I still avoid?  Since it’s only slightly less harmful than smoking cigarettes?

Because I don’t have a sense of my true purpose in life?  I’m not in touch with my higher calling?  I’m not clear on why I’m here?  I’ve lost my vision?  Or, I tell myself that none of that matters?

Or maybe I feel safer staying small.  Or maybe I really do think I’m not good enough.  That I don’t matter.  I don’t deserve.  I’m not worthy. I have no impact anyway.

Whatever it is, it’s a lie.


I had to start with a big lie, a lie that speaks to me as a person. Then, I can tell myself the little lie that says it’s okay to put timely, important tasks off to a later date.  And the other little lie that says this thing I don’t want to do really is unpleasant.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

‘Unpleasant’ is not really an emotion.  It’s a story.  And when you try to substitute stories for your feelings, it will indeed become ‘unpleasant’.  Stories have their place.  Everybody loves a good story.  But not as a substitute for feeling your feelings!

Time and time again, when I actually start doing this ‘unpleasant’ task, I find it’s not unpleasant at all.  But that’s just me.  If I know I need to do something, I decide that I will feel as good as I possibly can while doing it.  Whether it’s something I want to do or not.

You see?  I tell myself a story about the task.  That’s how I overcome the procrastination around doing it. But instead of telling myself the story that it will feel bad, boring, frustrating, whatever… I tell myself that I will engage this to the best of my ability.  I will ‘get into it’.

It might be scraping old peeling paint off the side of a barn.  It might be cleaning the toilet.  It might be calling my cell phone carrier.  (The worst of all!)  But if I remember to keep the big picture in mind, I will approach the task with an open mind and a willingness to engage and a desire to feel whatever feelings come up.

I’ve never been able to feel ‘unpleasant’.  Frustrated, yes.  Uncomfortable, yes.  Angry, bored, irritated, exasperated, disgusted, yes.  But not unpleasant.

A funny thing happens when I start engaging a task that I’ve been putting off. Namely, I get into it.  Happens almost every time.  I choose to make it an adventure, and it usually does become an adventure.  Even scraping the old paint off the wall.

Why? Because I’ve spent the time to love and accept myself. I’ve spent the time to process out my feelings, so I know it will now be very hard for me to feel frustrated or exasperated.  I’m much more likely to be amused and entertained.

So what does it hinge on?  Bleeding off the unfelt and unresolved emotional energy that used to surround me like a blanket of barbed wire.  Processing out on paper all my aggravations and irritations and frustrations.

Not that I’ve got it all together.  I know I may still procrastinate some things.  I’m a work in progress, just like everybody else.  But I know, the more I clear out my blocked emotional energy, the better I’ll feel.

When we procrastinate, we’re worried that doing the task will make us feel a certain way.  And what we’re worried about feeling… is likely to be the very unresolved energy that’s already surrounding us, that we’ve already been avoiding.

We want to avoid ourselves by procrastinating.

Therefore, the more we work on ourselves, to clear out our unresolved emotional energy that we’ve been accumulating for a lifetime… the less we have the need to procrastinate.

The task we’re putting off doesn’t generate uncomfortable feelings.  It brings them to the surface.  It makes us aware of what we’re already avoiding.

It’s not the task we avoid.  It’s what we think the task will make us feel.  And what will it ‘make’ us feel?  Our own repressed feelings.

So what’s the answer to all this?  Get out your trusty paper and pen and get to processing your repressed thoughts and feelings.  Get that repressed anger and frustration and exasperation out of you, and onto the paper.  Get it out of you!

Then you’ll feel a lot less of a desire to procrastinate.  It might not totally end it, but it will help a lot.  That’s my strategy for overcoming procrastination with the least amount of ‘disruption’ to your current existence.  And the changes you do make, you’ll love!  Because all you’re doing to change is bleeding off the energies that currently frustrate you anyway.  The energies you’re afraid you’ll feel if you engage this task you’ve been avoiding. Win-win.


Now, what’s this ‘wonderful’ energy I talked about? The energy that is just starting to change my life?  The energy that even as we speak has been gushing into me and my life?

Well, I call it ‘the lubrication of life’.  This is a lubricating energy. When this energy is present, your life works.  When it’s not present, your life doesn’t work.  For most of us, this energy is present in some areas but not other areas of our lives.

When you don’t have lubrication in a motor, the motor will seize up and stop working.  First it starts to make noises.  Then the noises get louder.  Finally, something breaks.  Then it comes to a standstill.  That’s what happens when this energy is not present in a particular arena of your life.

Now when this energy is present, it’s just the opposite.  Because this is a light and playful energy.  It makes things fun and easy.  In fact, I’ve found myself being happier than I’ve ever been in my life.  I find myself spontaneously laughing for no reason at all, except that I feel so good.  In fact, I haven’t laughed so much since the last time I did psilocybin mushrooms thirty years ago.  Except this is much better.

Why?  Because it’s the lubrication for life.  It smooths out the rough edges and reduces the friction.  It’s indescribably wonderful.  Not that it’s all kicks and giggles.  It’s also been intense at times, but in a good way.

So what’s it called?  Well, there is a name for it.  It’s called ‘responsibility’.  But it’s not what you think of when you hear that word.  You’ve been taught and conditioned and coerced and cajoled into believing responsibility is the worst, most painful experience in the world.  And that is a complete and utter lie.  But so strongly have you been brainwashed, it’s hard to even read these words.  Because we have such strong programming to avoid it.  That’s why I didn’t say it at the beginning of this article.  Because you would already have stopped reading, probably.  If you’re like most people.

Look, when I first had an inkling that responsibility was a good thing, I tried to feel it.  I really did.  I created my own little meditation where I would imagine a pool of resonance, like a thick liquid, that was filled with responsibility.  And I tried to imagine myself stepping into the pool.  I couldn’t do it!  No matter how hard I tried, I refused to feel what responsibility feels like.  I couldn’t step into that pool. Poor me.

It took a lot of effort to get into that pool.  Numerous tries.  But once I did, I remember very clearly how wonderful I felt.  All afternoon after doing the meditation, it was magical.  Finally, I had to go drink some beers to come down, since I wasn’t used to feeling that good…

That was about six years ago.  Since then, I’ve given plenty of lip service to responsibility, but I never really felt the healing powers it has, until this energy called ‘responsibility’ started gushing into me.  Now I understand.  And I will change enormously in the days to follow. ( I hope!)

The prognosis for the ‘old Mark’ is not good.  Laughter and joy and an ease of life previously unimagined is in the forecast.  Life as it was meant to be.  That’s what I see coming now.

What about you?

Is there any area of your life that’s not working as you’d like it to?  Maybe that’s where you’d want to ‘take greater responsibility’.  I’ve started just imagining the energy of responsibility flowing into different areas of my life.  That’s how I’m working with it so far.

But you could start just by playing with the concept.  What would the energy of responsibility feel like?  What does it mean to be the lubrication of life?  What would that look like?  Can I get a sense of it?  Can I realize how heavily I’ve been programmed to avoid responsibility as if my life depended on it?

And where is my life working right now?  What works in my life?  Can I see the responsibility I’m taking there?

These are the types of questions you may wish to ask yourself.

Also, I have two products that can help.  One is called ‘Power Processing’.  This is where you take any problem or issue or area of your life, and ‘clean up’ your thinking and feeling and beliefs about it.  In this case, of course, the issue would be ‘responsibility’.  Or for that matter, your issue could be procrastination itself.  For more info go here –

http://ivar.info/powerprocessing.html

Power Processing is great for handling all sorts of issues.  I’ve used it myself for several years and I LOVE it!

The second product to help with responsibility is a meditation to heal the ‘false responsibility’ programming that’s been pounded into us almost since birth.  For more into check out this page –

http://creative-visualization.com/end-self-punishment.html

And let me leave you with this reminder –

When you avoid or put off some task, you’re really trying to avoid feeling the feelings that are already trapped inside you.   It’s not the task.  It’s what you think that task will make you feel.  But the feelings are already there, inside, until you take responsibility for them.

all the best,

Mark

Mark Ivar Myhre
The Emotional Healing Coach
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{ 5 comments }

Raed November 7, 2011 at 7:59 am

“It’s not the task we avoid. It’s what we think the task will make us feel. And what will it ‘make’ us feel? Our own repressed feelings….the more we work on ourselves, to clear out our unresolved emotional energy that we’ve been accumulating for a lifetime, the less we have the need to procrastinate.”
Thanks Mark

avril November 7, 2011 at 11:32 am

…..hm, been meaning all morning to get around to leaving a comment on this great post….

Oliver Kaufman November 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Excellent Mark! Just when I was feeling some procrastination, too – the last time I worked on procrastination I found myself doing all kinds of crazy things, compelled by love instead of fear. I realized it was about my lack of self-worth. But thanks to you I’ve grasped the last key to the puzzle: (then the voice: oh come on Oliver, you haven’t really grasped it. We’ll see.)
I realized that if you make uncovering feelings that block you fun, exciting, a step in the right direction, then even the most onerous task will be fun. Because once those feelings you don’t like come up, it gives you something to work with. Clarity. Insight into yourself, and a new way to heal.
And it’s crazy how y0u linked responsibility to feeling so great – I just recently found myself so happy I couldn’t stop smiling, and I was struggling to come up with a story for why. Not like I need one, but if this is about responsibility, then I know how to regenerate that happiness, which for now comes and goes.
Thanks Mark, and keep on delving into the depths! Let’s bring this Earth to a new level of happiness!

P.S. I recently figured out something about worry – it’s a false mode of existence that blinds us from the very things we’re worried about. I actually got this insight from a Shakespeare play, King Lear, although your post on worry was helpful too. Basically, I found out that when you worry you’re shoving down the voices inside of you that you don’t like. But when you let the voices come up, without judgement, you can survey the table and make a clearer, stronger decision on what to do.
A few days later I was feeling bad and came across a figure in my subconscious – I got the image of a large beast, with a human face, flying slowly through the rain. He was so incredibly sad – I asked him why, and he said it was because he had wandered lost for so long, and just now realized it. Immediately I felt the intense energy of forgiveness as I comforted this part of myself, then asked that he go forward into clearer skies, free of his burden. It was incredible. Your meditation for forgiveness is great and all, but I find that it springs up spontaneously from our being when confronted with a true image of what needs to be forgiven. I feel like this was needed to move on from the state of near-constant worry I’d been under, and I’ve been strangely kinder to myself ever since.

Not that it has a ton to do with procrastination, but some – you can worry about the task at hand, worry that you might procrastinate, worry about worrying! So for anyone wanting to overcome either, I hope this comment sheds some light on the problem.

Just remember, if your consciousness is made up of various “inner people” – when it came time to make a decision, would you really want to duct-tape all those people’s mouths shut, even if you don’t like what they’re going to say? You can always choose differently. And boy do those silenced parts get cranky anyway.

Stay awesome everyone, and thanks again Mark
-Oliver

dar coneray January 6, 2012 at 12:41 am

Hey Mark i was wondering… i ALWAYS run late. have lost jobs bec of it and im broke you know. just CANT BE ON TIME EVEN FOR WORK. its like i underestimate how long it takes to get ready is an understatement, could this be under this procrastination article? is anyone else out there having this problem? like no way could i be the old 15 mn early to work person it feels kike such a waste or something. i want to stop this behavior. i just hate when i strat a new job and im doing ok and then THE FIRST LATE DAY HAPPENS and then it just starts where im giving the boss excusese excuses and then its ALL THE TIME. i hated the jobs but even jobs i liked same thing. many trafiic tickets etc. WHAT IS THIS? ive spoke to many ppl about it no one addresses it.

Mark Ivar Myhre January 9, 2012 at 8:47 am

So, this has become ‘who you are’ and it permeates every part of your being. And it’s roots go deep into the past.

I would imagine the real issue is the energy behind the actions.

But like all ‘life problems’ of this magnitude, there may be many layers here.

If I were broke, and I wanted to heal this energy, I would at least start with a TON of processing. The only cost would be some cheap paper. (You can always get pens for free. Just pick one up at a bank branch!)

Start getting it out of you, so you can start seeing why you do this to yourself.

If it were me, I’d get out the paper, and at the top of the first page, I’d write something like –

“Why do I always sabotage myself?”

or some similar statement, then I’d start writing down whatever came up.

I’d start with whatever pushed my buttons the most.

And I’d probably go through thousands of sheets of paper before I was done.

That’s step one.

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