Procrastination - putting it off and paying the price. So how do we overcome this built-in behavior? Use self-hypnosis to alter your perception of the pain or fear.
We all do it: putting off that medical exam, not paying that important phone bill, not returning a phone call, or changing your oil, or filing your taxes until it becomes embarrassing, then costly, and then damaging to your life. And every time you do it, you ask yourself, “Why do I put myself through this - I know better!”
But still you know you’ll do it again if you don't do anything about it!
Pain and Pleasure
To truly understand why we all procrastinate, we need to revisit our old friend Sigmund Freud. Freud was the first to recognize that we all operate – with no conscious effort – under the dictates of the “Pain/Pleasure” principle. It’s what we usually refer to as “human nature.” We seek pleasure (or pleasurable experiences) and we avoid pain (or discomfort, both physical and psychological).
Since the tedious and unpleasant tasks listed above offer no pleasure and – in some cases – at least a little discomfort we procrastinate. We are simply avoiding some perceived pain or fear and unfortunately, the very act of avoiding itself increases our discomfort. The longer we avoid the task at hand, the stronger the avoidance becomes.
Chip Away At The Task
Much of the time, the avoidance is a perception that the task – whether it’s opening the mail, doing the dishes, or paying the bills – will simply take too much time and energy. The best way to deal with this kind of procrastination is to chip away at it. Yes, you may have to force yourself to do it, but only for a brief period time – say, fifteen or twenty minutes – and then take a break. And be serious about it: use a kitchen timer to make sure you take a break, and then resume the task for another short, set time period.
You’ll find that you actually perceive the task as less painful and you’ll do more. So even if you never look forward to paying bills, you’ll no longer put it off until they threaten to turn off the electricity or throw you out of your home.
Sometimes the source of the avoidance is more serious than just avoiding tedium or expending energy. It can stem from fear, like the “worst case scenarios” you dream about (in nightmares!) when it comes to doing a tax return or taking a medical exam. In these cases, you need to be more stern with yourself, and consciously project how much worse it will be (disease, financial ruin, even death!) if you don’t face up to your fear and do what needs to be done. Then you can go about the business of breaking those tasks into “bite-sized bits” and beating procrastination cold.
Hypnosis Can Make It Work
Where does hypnosis come in? When talking to yourself still doesn’t work its magic, a competent hypnotherapist can help. Hypnosis can actually make you more receptive to these successful techniques by making you less sensitive to the task itself by reducing the amount of pain, fear, or discomfort the tasks represent.
Then the same techniques for overcoming procrastination can work or work even better. You’ll find the “anxiety reaction” can be replaced with a “relaxation reaction,” and you’ll find yourself not only accomplishing a great deal more, you’ll actually be calm and happy while doing it!
Try chipping away at what your putting-off and see what happens. Use hypnosis to help when you need it!
I teach and practice hynotherapy at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in Tarzana, CA - the only national accredited school of hypnotherapy - with a second office in Brentwood, CA.
To ask Marc Gravelle questions about hypnosis or hypnotherapy, e-mail him at [email protected]