Step 1 – Understand where your resistance to take action is coming from
David feels stuck in a world of procrastination. He really wants to complete his BA so he can go to graduate school but every time he thinks about studying, an inner voice shouts "leave me alone, I have no patience to study!" For David it may be the fear of failure or perhaps even the fear of success.
David may subconsciously think, “What if I fail and don’t become a lawyer, who will I be – what will I be worth without it? My father’s a lawyer and he expects me to become one too. How will I gain his respect?
Or suppose David is afraid that if he passes with flying colors and becomes this really successful lawyer, even better than his father, then his father may feel threatened by his success and withhold his love. So in essence David is protecting his ego in his fear of failure and his heart in his fear of success.
Now is the time to put on your psychology hat and use your detective skills to uncover your subconscious thoughts.
Step 2: Ask yourself: “What is the fear behind my resistance?” “What or whom am I trying to protect?”
Take the example of Rachel. Rachel really wants to lose weight and gain her health back, yet she’s been procrastinating for years now and has let her urges defeat her health and self esteem.
For Rachel it may be the fear of commitment or the fear of the unknown. Suppose Rachel is in an unhealthy marriage and she subconsciously fears that if she were to take full control of her weight and health and develop a level of beauty and self love that she hasn’t had in years, she may decide to leave her husband. So in essence Rachel is holding onto her sweets and low self esteem in order to protect herself and her family from the uncertainty and perhaps chaos that would come from her divorcing her husband.
So what are you afraid of? And are you trying to protect yourself or someone else by holding onto your fears? Take a couple minutes to really tap into your subconscious and figure out what’s holding you back from accomplishing your desires and goals.
Step 2 – Thank your Positive Intention:
Once you’ve discovered the fear behind your resistance and chronic procrastination, place your hand on your heart, close your eyes and truly thank the part of yourself that was trying to protect you – your positive intention.
For David it may look something like this: “Thank you for being afraid of failure and success and for causing me to resist and procrastinate studying, I know you were doing it to protect my heart and my father’s ego and I appreciate that.”
For Rachel thanking her positive intention may look like: “Thank you for being afraid of commitment and causing me to succumb to my urges and low self esteem, I know you were only trying to protect me and my family and I appreciate that.”
Take a couple moments to thank your positive intention behind your fear.
Step 3 – Get Leverage:
Now that you are aware, understand and appreciate why you have been resisting change and stuck in a life of chronic procrastination, the time has come to get leverage.
Ask yourself: “What have my fears cost me? Who else has been hurt and affected by my resisting positive change? Where do I see myself in five, ten or twenty years if I hold onto my fears? What will I gain if I let them go?
Are you ready to let your fears go? If so continue to step four, if not read some other article!
Step 4 – Keep Your Identity as a Procrastinator, Just shift what you procrastinate about:
The number one need we all have is to stay true to whom we believe we are – maintain our identity. So this is where we fool our Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) and tell our self: “It’s ok, I’m still a procrastinator!” “I promise to procrastinate every day for the rest of my life!”
David may opt to procrastinating watching TV, so he can get some studying done, while Rachel may choose to procrastinate eating that chocolate bar for ten minutes. Shifting what you procrastinate about preserves your identity as a procrastinator while proving to yourself that you have the self control and strength to move past chronic procrastination.
Step 5 – Set a time to beat yourself up:
When someone has been prosecuting themselves for a long period of time, it takes real effort and desire to be kind to one self. Your prosecutor will remind you just how long it’s taken you to change so that you have a hard time forgiving your past and moving forward. Do not let him win – you deserve the benefits of progress and growth!
Fool your yetzer hara when you catch yourself thinking negatively by procrastinating beating yourself up. You may want to set a specific time every day or evening where you allow yourself for a short period of time to feel badly about your mistakes and past stagnation. This way you still hold onto the need to feel negatively about yourself, but it’s within a conscious time frame as opposed to feeding negative thoughts to yourself throughout the day.
Step 6 – Reclaim your true Identity with the ten day challenge:
Take on a ten day challenge by every morning/evening to reclaim your true identity. Say it out loud in front of the mirror so you can really let it seep in. (Using the EFT – emotional freedom technique method of tapping on the energy points of your body is another great tool to trigger therapeutic change.)
David may say “I am a person with integrity and courage. I am kind to myself and judge myself and others favorably. I do what it takes to accomplish my goals and I feel happy. I am worthy of love with or without a degree. I trust that when I do what is right in the eyes of God my heart is safe.”
Rachel may say “I have self control and I do what it takes to accomplish my goals and desires. I portray positive energy in my home and love flows through me – to my children and husband, regardless of whether my husband meets my needs or not. Because that is who I am – a loving, nurturing, vibrant and beautiful women! I trust that only good will come from me loving myself and I don’t have to wait until I’m thin to love me.”
Take a couple moments to tap into who you truly are at your best – with no fears holding you back. Stand tall in front of the mirror and proclaim your true identity with confidence and pride.
Step 7 – Gain Accountability:
Once you have completed the ten day challenge, now is the time to start to make small commitments, which you are positive you want and can follow through. At this point you may choose to hire a coach or someone whom you feel can hold you accountable towards achieving your goals.
Whenever you feel yourself slipping back into old habits of procrastination, go through these seven steps to take note of which one you need at the time.
Leah Field is a life skills coach trained by Refuah Institute,Machon Aluf Binah and RMT Center for Strategic Intervention(Tony Robbins & Cloe Madanes). Leah can be reached at [email protected]