“Why Am I Procrastinating?”

man hands over head sits in office focuses on personal computer
by Dr. Margaret Paul

Discover what might be causing you to be stuck in your life – to procrastinate even around work that you love and want to do.

Fran asked me the following question:

“I am a Ph.D. student and I have chosen my profession because I like it and not because of my parents’ influence. However, I am procrastinating every day more and more to the point where some days I don’t work at all. This really scares me and I don’t understand why I would procrastinate in doing something that I have chosen to do and is supposed to be my passion. I realize there is some fear of failure behind this, but it is irrational because I know I am capable of doing my work. I am really frustrated and scared and don’t know what the underlying cause is.”

The clue to her procrastination is this: “I realize there is some fear of failure behind this, but it is irrational because I know I am capable of doing my work.”

The fact that she is calling her fear ‘irrational’ is stopping her from learning from it and understanding it.

Her fear is likely NOT about whether or not she is capable of doing the work. Her fear is likely about whether or not she is going to judge herself if she doesn’t meet a certain standard.

Please take a moment to take in what you just read.

procrastinate to work

Our fears generally come from how we treat ourselves regarding outcomes, rather than the outcome itself.

The fact that this woman is judging her fear as irrational, rather than embracing it with compassion, is exactly what her inner child is afraid of – being judged by her.

She will likely not be able to move beyond her procrastination until she moves into love and acceptance of her soul essence, rather than basing her worth on her accomplishments.

Fran also asked:

“I realize that my procrastination has to do with the fear of judgment. In essence, I know that there is nothing wrong with working hard and doing your best, just like there is nothing wrong with being healthy but I overeat. So why do I rebel against these two loving actions?”

My guess is that she overeats because she feels empty and alone inside, due to the judgment that she seems to be leveling at herself. Her fear of others judging her is likely a projection of what she is telling herself.

love yourself and be compassionate toward procrastinating

There is much self-judgment going on, which makes her inner child feel afraid, resistant, alone and empty.

My suggestion for her is that she practice being compassionate toward the resistant, rebellious, procrastinating part of her. This part of her has good reasons for resisting and rebelling against her judgments of herself, and if she compassionately opened to learning, she would say to the procrastinating part of her, “You must have some very good reasons for resisting and procrastinating. How am I treating you and what am I telling you that is causing you to rebel?

As she practices compassionately learning about her procrastination, she will begin to move out of being stuck.

The wounded self often has a false belief that self-judgment will get us to do what we think we should do. But it generally has the opposite effect, and this is certainly the case with Fran’s procrastination. Most of us are far more motivated to try to do well when we know that we are still good, worthy, and lovable, even if we fail.

We need to take the judgment off failure.

Fran needs to make it okay to fail. She needs to tell her inner child that she will love her whether she succeeds or fails – that her worth is not about her performance but about her intrinsic qualities, and the fact that her true essence is love. When she takes the pressure off having to succeed, she will be less likely to procrastinate AND more likely to succeed.

To learn more about ways to love yourself and free yourself of fear, anxiety and depression, guilt, shame, see: Discovering Self-Love

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