Have you ever dragged your feet on completing a task or making a certain decision? And then do you and others criticize you for procrastinating? What’s going on?
Do you ever view procrastination as a gift? How can you reframe it as a positive experience?
(Please note, I recognize that there are other types of procrastination that keep us from growing as people. This is not the type I’m discussing here.)
I know of a very successful artist who came to a point in her career when she froze in her artistic production. No matter how hard she pushed herself she could not get herself to paint again. Everything she tried, hypnosis, consulting with other artists, and having her partner drive her to get back to painting did not get her off the dime.
Her procrastination handed her a gift. It was an opportunity to reflect on her inner needs and values.
When we dug a little deeper into her procrastination we found out that she absolutely hated the marketing part of being an artist. She had once done this but over a period of time her artistic expression came to a grinding halt. In her mind, she could not separate painting from marketing which in turn was associated with self-promotion.
Her turnaround came when she listened to the voice of her procrastination (“Stay away from self-promotion“) and learned ways to showcase her art without putting her in conflict with her inner values.
Think of the times when you procrastinated. What was your inner voice saying?
- An executive drags his heels on a job promotion opportunity. No incentives will make him budge on this decision and nobody understands his rejection of the golden career opportunity. The gift of procrastination was an inner voice telling him that he needed greater connection with his family and friends more than the career significance that the promotion would give.
- A person in a long-term relationship just cannot seem to take the step of marrying the partner. The gift of procrastination was that the person knew deep inside that her partner’s model of marriage would be a trap that would restrict her independence.
- A highly social person went through a series of painful relationship breakups. This was followed by a period when he withdrew into his shell and avoided social situations. No matter how much his partner pleaded he avoided going to social functions. The gift of procrastination was that he needed to build trust in others again, go through a period of inner healing, and choose healthier friends.
The turtle goes into its shell for good reasons because it either wants to rest, avoid danger, or go through a period of healing. By the same token there are times when we retreat from the world, refuse to take a step forward, and on the face of it seem to be procrastinating. The key in such times is:
- Not to drive ourselves to do what our inner wisdom tells us not to do.
- Be very compassionate with ourselves in this time of transition.
- Do not succumb to the pressure of others to go against our better judgment.
- Identify and deeply respect the needs that our inner voice is addressing.
- Hit the hold button on action until we are clear what we need to do.
- Reframe the procrastination as potentially positive.
What is your area of procrastination? What needs of yours are being in expressed in this time of struggle? What is your inner voice telling you to do?
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