Most people procrastinate in some area of their lives, or during certain times in their lives. In and of itself, procrastination is a neutral thing, but it generally has negative connotations in a society that values and rewards high achievement.
Sometimes procrastination is healthy and wise – as when we have a lot on our proverbial plates and a limited supply of time and energy each day to attend to an array of tasks, and we consciously choose to tend to only the most important things now, putting off the non-essential ones. In doing this, we create time to rest and rejuvenate our bodies, minds and spirits so that we have renewed energy for the next day.
At other times, procrastination is not so healthy – as when we habitually postpone doing necessary things, and wind up with a huge backlog – of undone tasks, physical clutter, and mental clutter.
Over time, a pattern of habitual procrastination weighs us down because we become frustrated with ourselves as we see and experience the consequences of our inaction or delayed action.
The consequences of habitual procrastination are varied and far-reaching into all aspects of life. Others may become frustrated or angry with us, damaging our relationships with them. There may be financial consequences, as when we don’t pay a bill on time and incur interest charges. There could be health consequences if we delay seeking medical attention.
Worst of all, people who habitually procrastinate will beat themselves up for being “a bad person” and for seeing no way out.
You may think that a long-term pattern of procrastination would take a lot of effort and a long time to change. But what I’ve seen is that a person can let go of a procrastinating pattern more quickly and easily when newer methods are used to release and shift the energy of the pattern in the body. Taking immediate action then becomes – and feels - easy.
Victor’s Story: Ending a Lifetime of Procrastination
Let me tell you what happened for Victor so you can see what’s possible for you.
Victor has been a manager for many years, and he came to me wanting relief from a number of issues.
One of the things he struggled with on a daily basis was what he described as a “block” or resistance to getting things done. Errands, repairs, and the stuff of life that simply needs doing. He was feeling very frustrated that he couldn’t seem to get things done when they needed to get done.
This had been going on for a long time – as far back as he could remember. And it was affecting his work, his relationships, and his quality of life.
Victor told me: “It’s a fight to do everything.” He was plagued by a constant inner struggle to get anything done.
He also had a hard time making decisions, so he would spend much time and energy analyzing the options before deciding. And, when he did take action, he would often second-guess himself, wondering if he had made the “right” decision.
Over-analysis and second-guessing, by taking up time and energy, stop us from taking action and often underlie pervasive procrastination.
As we talked, Victor also revealed that, when he was young, he received strong messages from male family members to “get it right,” and to this day he has a strong inclination to apply this principle to everything.
So, instead of taking action in a reasonable amount of time, Victor frequently did nothing. He froze. His propensity to over-analyze, second-guess, and get it right was freezing his energy to take action.
Getting to the Core: the Root of Victor’s Procrastination Pattern
As we started to work with this issue, it was tempting to address the various aspects that typically underlie and contribute to the procrastination pattern – including perfectionism, fear of success, fear of failure, or fear of disappointing others.
But what I’ve learned from working with other types of patterns (like people-pleasing, avoiding, or self-sabotage) is that when we can identify what triggered a pattern of behavior to get started in the first place, shifting the energy around the originating event frequently brings about a change in the behavior pattern now.
So, by doing some energy testing, Victor identified an event when he was about 3 years old. He had a vision of his mom leaving the house on a bitterly cold Christmas Eve when his dad was very angry, and he was sitting a table, unable to move or say anything – he froze. As he recalled this event, he could still feel the fear and feelings of unsafety in his body now.
While this event didn’t logically seem to be related to procrastination, we worked with it anyway, and released the feelings of fear and sense of unsafety from Victor’s body, using a combination of EFT and Matrix Reimprinting.
At the end of the session, Victor felt no reaction in his body as he remembered that event, and he agreed to notice if anything was different for him as he went about his daily life.
Here’s What Happened
Two weeks later, Victor returned for his next session. He was happy to tell me that:
- He had not been putting things off, and simply doing things as they came up. It seemed easy, and there was no longer an internal struggle.
- He was no longer beating himself up that he didn’t do something else (instead of the thing he did do). So, there was a shift in second-guessing.
- It felt much easier to make decisions quickly. He was no longer engaged in analysis paralysis.
Here are a few ways these shifts showed up in his life:
- A relative asked Victor to help with some painting – and he simply decided immediately to help out, and did the painting right away.
- He purchased airline tickets without spending endless hours trying to find the lowest price. He found tickets quickly that were “good enough.”
- He gained more clarity about making an upcoming major purchase by easily and quickly deciding exactly what he wanted to get.
Also, while teaching a class, he noticed that he was unintentionally using a different approach, and received a more positive response from the participants. This is an example of the kind of “happy surprises” and fringe benefits that frequently arise after doing this sort of release work.
Victor is now having a different experience.
A month after releasing the emotions around the early childhood event, Victor is still making decisions with ease and following through with action.
His energy has shifted. He’s now placing his energy into actions instead of thinking about acting.
Is it always this easy?
You may be wondering.... what did that early childhood event have to do with this procrastination pattern? Well, when Victor saw his mom leaving, he didn’t know what to do, and so he froze. That frozen energy is what showed up in his procrastination pattern: when faced with a decision whether or not do something, he would freeze – and do nothing.
(By the way, Victor’s mom did return home eventually – but that did not reverse what happened in his body the moment his energy got frozen as she walked out the door.)
While Victor had a significant shift in his procrastination behavior pattern in a single session, not everyone will experience a shift this quickly. That said, I’ve worked with many people who have shifted out of patterns like people-pleasing, avoiding, and various self-sabotaging actions over a relatively short series of sessions.
What’s Possible for You
When clients come to me wanting to shift a behavior pattern (like procrastination) that’s not serving them well, I help them identify the underlying emotions, beliefs and past events that caused or contributed to the start of the pattern and assist them in releasing these emotions and energy.
When these things are released, behavior shifts in a positive way in the present. And it happens without effort, without trying – thanks to the rapid and lasting energy shifts that come from EFT tapping and Matrix Reimprinting work.
I welcome comments! Please write your comments below.
And, if you're inspired by this story, wanting to release a behavior that’s not supporting you, and curious about what changes are possible for you, I invite you to explore the possibility of working together. Simply fill out the form at the bottom of the Work With Me - Personal Sessions page, and I'll contact you to set up a time for a phone conversation.