Do you find yourself procrastinating, avoiding doing a task that needs to be accomplished? Do you find yourself doing all sorts of other things just to avoid or put off urgent tasks?
In this blog, I am going to talk to you about some deeper roots that can play a huge part in procrastination. Bear in mind that there are so many different causes of not only procrastination but of all other negative patterns, but in this blog I’ll only be focusing on one or two, just to give you an idea of how the unconscious works.
Why do we really procrastinate?
You probably know that anxiety plays a big part in your procrastination and vice versa, as procrastination will increase your anxiety too. You may procrastinate in your work, in your relationship, in your social gatherings. You may miss deadlines, paying the bills, etc. You may feel anxious when it comes to making decisions. There may be so many ‘what if’ questions occupying your mind.
You may live with disappointments because of lost opportunities and regret those lost opportunities, but still that doesn’t stop you from procrastinating. Because of the feeling of regret, you may avoid other experiences in the future, thus feeling stuck, more anxious and not being able to move on. You may begin to feel deprived of good opportunities in your life.
Our ego likes to find a way to rid us of anxiety and all sorts of other difficult feelings. These other feelings can be fear of disappointment, failure, inadequacy, fear of the unknown, to name a few. The procrastination itself may create feelings of guilt for not doing something that you need to do.
Our ego is lazy. It does not want to work through our difficult feelings and doesn’t want us to think and process. It wants everything to be quick and easy. So it finds different methods to push the negative feelings down into the unconscious. When something in our life needs attention, the ego pops up and holds us back, just in case we have to face some negative feelings (such as those I mentioned above). It finds all sorts of ways to distract us from the task that creates anxiety in us, which leads to our procrastination.
What may be the deep source of procrastination?
There are some deeper roots involved in procrastination. I will talk about a few possible ones here.
Parents play a huge role in the development of their children. When parents’ love and acceptance are conditional on their child’s achievements and they set high goals for them, the child ends up as an adult who is prone to procrastination. The procrastinator avoids the task in order to avoid the anxiety related to fear of failing and therefore losing the parents’ love.
On the other hand, some parents may not have high expectations of their children but may control them in various other ways.
So, again, something deeper may go on here. Children who feel controlled by their parents are unable to find their independence. They need to do what their parents expect them to do. So, at an unconscious level, they may begin rebelling against their parents’ wishes by procrastinating. In this way, they show their anger to their parents in an indirect way. In a passive aggressive way, they resist their parents’ control of them.
Now these all may happen at an unconscious level.
Now what happens when these children grow up?
It may sound mad, but we all have different parts in us. A part of you may be very motivated and want to progress in life, but somehow your anxiety gets in the way. You feel unable to proceed with what you aim to do. You become anxious, paralysed and stuck, as if there is another part of you that does not want you to progress and keeps telling you that you will fail, you’re inadequate, you’ll be disappointed and it’s best to stay put. To put it this way, it simply tells you to die and not live.
We need to focus on this part and see where it’s coming from. Children are very receptive to their environment and they take things on. They do recognize parents’ bad behaviours, try to avoid becoming like them and try to take on only good behaviours. However, this is not as simple as it sounds. At an unconscious level, children pick up parents’ bad behaviours too, so if the parent is controlling and punishing, children unknowingly pick up those behaviours and internalize them. Therefore, a part of a child becomes controlling and punishing, too.
If you find yourself bashing yourself down and punish yourself for every little thing you do wrong, this is because the controlling part you have picked up is operating in you.
Adults who procrastinate carry the parents’ controlling and demanding parts within them. Unfortunately, this controlling part goes into battle with the other part of us that wants to progress, accomplish and feel good in life. So unconsciously, a negative part of us denies us the opportunity of living a better life.
How can therapy help?
You are probably reading this post, looking for a quick solution not only to procrastination but to any other negative patterns. But unless you get in touch with the underlying sources and feelings related to your patterns, you’ll not be able to free yourself from them.
There may be so many unconscious behaviours underlying our negative patterns, unique to each individual. In therapy, with the help of the therapists, these unconscious roots will be revealed and you will be able to understand what leads your negative behaviours, depriving you of having an enjoyable and comfortable life. By constantly acknowledging these roots in therapy, you’ll be able to get in touch with your unconscious, begin to know your different operating parts and step by step free yourself from anything that gets in the way.