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Pro 5For the last four weeks, I’ve been posting on Procrastination. These are not my words – I downloaded this PDF years ago, and there is no identifying info on it, so I have to go with ‘author unknown’. Here’s the last in the series…

Are You Guilty of Chronic Procrastination?

Chronic procrastination is a problem that’s real and is nothing to be laughed at although there are many jokes about procrastination. Procrastination has caused people to lose jobs, personal possessions and even their spouse.

But most medical professionals fail to recognize the problem as real, classifying it as simply a bad habit. It manifests itself in low self-esteem, shame, underachievement and life can become unmanageable. Many procrastinators also suffer from adult attention deficit disorder but it isn’t acknowledged as such.

Chronic procrastination grows into a compulsion to avoid existence. It’s addictive and as harmful as any other addictive drug becoming your drug of choice and your method to circumvent the reality of life.

It’s a form of escapism. Chronic procrastinators often turn to drugs and alcohol. Drug and alcohol abusers sometime become procrastinators. So which came first? How do you recognize the symptoms?

Procrastinators are constantly disappointed in everything. They expect all things to go wrong and are inwardly happy when they do. Their lives are surrounded by clutter in the home, car and the work place.

They’re not aware of what’s really needed in their life and seek frivolous things for fulfillment and instant gratification. It’s hard to say no. They suffer from low self-esteem and are glad someone needs their help, but rebel by never completing the requested favor.

Procrastinators are late for appointments and have difficulty estimating the amount of time it takes to arrive at a destination or completing a task. They even resort to tricking their mind by setting their clock or watch a few minutes ahead.

If you think you’re a chronic procrastinator admit to your problem and make a decision to overcome it. Seek help. Therapy can be useful to learn new attitudes and overcome fears.

Ask yourself why you’re avoiding the things you dread. Make a list of dreaded activities and what’s the worse that could happen if you avoid them. You’ll quickly see this could result in dismal consequences. Also make a list of happy activities and why you would want to do them. Yes, there are happy activities too.

Time management can help. Stop giving in to activities that waste time. Develop a routine and break down your daily activities into small steps and tasks. Set a lesser deadline and meet it. Replace your “have to” with “want to. You don’t have to do anything. You have a choice. But, weigh the consequences of that choice.

You’re on your way to recovery when you do what you say you will do when you say you will do it. Success attracts success. Work on things you enjoy even if insignificant. At least the small things are getting done. Never feel guilty. Never submit to self-defeating mentality. Choose to improve the quality of your life and a life of quality will choose you.

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Following on from last weeks post about ‘Too …’, today I’m going to share another little word that caused me so much trouble.

During one of my counseling sessions, Dr Lee said that there is one word he’d like to see removed from the English language. SHOULD.

This little word is such a powerful, defeating word. I have summarized some of what is said in the book Feeling Good by David D Burns. He says this about ‘Should Statements’…

‘You try to motivate yourself by saying “I should do this,” or “I should do that.” These statements cause you to feel pressured and resentful. When you direct should statements toward others, you will usually feel frustrated. Should statements generate a lot of unnecessary emotional turmoil in your daily life.’

This was something I had to work hard at. The day I arrived late at one of my counseling sessions, I was almost consumed with ‘should’ statements. I should have left earlier, I should have called to say I was running late, I should have been more responsible, etc. All it did was make me feel worse. When ‘should’ statements are directed towards other people, it just increases your frustration towards that person. ‘He should have called me… She should have told me… They should have done…’

I got really good at not using SHOULD (and MUST and OUGHT – which are all related), until something knocked me for a six earlier this year. A court case came up, requiring me to talk about an incident that I witnessed many years ago concerning a 10 yr old child. I couldn’t talk about it without becoming distressed and overwhelmed with guilt at my lack of action at the time. I fell back into the SHOULD trap. ‘I should have done more… I should have tried harder… I should have defended that child… ’ I couldn’t argue against any of those ‘should’ statements. It became such an issue that I sought help and learned something else about SHOULD.

After listening to my story, Dr Lee said to me, “Should statements deny the complexity of the situation.” And it was like a cloud lifted from me. The situation was indeed complex, and when all the facts were laid out, I could see that there were many reasons why I didn’t do more than I did at the time. I was young myself, I didn’t have authority or power to do more than I did. At the time, I did say something to someone in a position to help, though no help came. Driving home that day, I thought about what Dr Lee had said. “Should statements deny the complexity of the situation.” I thought about the complexity of the situation, and keeping that in mind, I tried to see if I could argue against my previous ‘should’ statements. I was amazed to discover that I couldn’t actually think of any. Not one. When I took into consideration my age, my life skills, my own vulnerability, the fact that I did as much as I could do at the time, there were no ‘shoulds’ left.

You really can live without thinking or saying ‘should’ :)

DJ

(c) DJ Stutley 2012

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Good Monday morning to you all :)

Yesterday I was reminded of something Sir Charles Court used to say. “If you are not 10 minutes early, you’re late.”

Once, I would have agreed with that statement, but not any more. All my life I have endeavoured to be early – didn’t matter what the occasion was. I was so conscious of not being late, that sometimes I would sit in my car for 20 minutes at my appointed place just to make sure I was there on time.

Then one day not so long ago, that all changed.

It was the first wet day of the winter season. My brother had arrived the night before, so I’d been chatting to him with one eye on the clock, conscious of my morning counselling appointment. Then the rain began to bucket down! Suddenly I had two girls to drop at school. One 10 minutes south, and the other 10 minutes west. My brother stepped in and offered to drive one, and I took the other. By now I knew that I was going to be late for my appointment, and felt sick in the stomach.

The usual 35 minute drive ended up taking close to 50 min. By the time I arrived (15 minutes late), I was anxious, flustered, embarrassed and apologetic. The counsellor was somewhat amused, and asked, ‘Haven’t you ever been late before?’

I was surprised. ‘No, I haven’t… at least not that I can remember.’

‘How do you feel about being late?’ he asked.

‘That I am a failure, unreliable, disrespectful… it’s the ultimate in rudeness.’ I replied seriously.

Needless to say, the planned trauma counselling session was postponed. We spent time discussing ‘late’ and I came away with a new, healthier attitude about being late. I still endeavour to be on time, but it is not the end of the world if I don’t make it there with 10 minutes to spare.

DJ

(C) DJ Stutley 2012

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