How To Actually Stop Procrastinating

Loving yourself, and treating yourself lovingly, is the way out of procrastination.

Take a moment to think about the last time you procrastinated. What was happening inside you? The chances are that one part of you—I will call this part “The Controller”—was telling you what to do with a critical tone of voice, saying phrases like:

  • It’s time to get rid of this clutter.
  • You need to start getting up early and exercising.
  • Quit eating junk—you need to lose weight.
  • You’d better get this work done on time.
  • Hurry up; you’re going to be late again.

And so on. At the same time, this critical voice might be saying things like, “You’d better not make mistakes or fail. If you make mistakes or fail, everyone will know you’re stupid,” or “If you fail, no one will like you. You will be rejected and you will end up alone.”

Whose voice does this Controller sound like? Someone who tried to control you and judged you for mistakes and failures when you were growing up? How old were you when you integrated this voice into your ego-wounded self? Were you a teenager? This critical voice is often an adolescent who wants to be in control—believing that if it can get you to do everything “right,” you will be safe from rejection.

Then there’s another part of you—I will call this part “The Resister”—who says, “You’re not the boss of me. I don’t need to do what you say.” Or, “I’d better not even try. It’s better not to try than to try and fail.” How old were you when you started to resist? Five? 10? Generally, The Resister is younger than The Controller.

As you become more aware of what’s happening inside of you, you will see that there is an inner power struggle going on, with the critical part of you trying to control what you do and the other part resisting being controlled and resisting the possibility of mistakes or failing. This power struggle creates an inner immobilization, which results in procrastination.

In other words, control plus resistance equals procrastination. It’s a simple math problem, when you really think about it. Do you really want your decisions to be determined by a child and an adolescent? I’m going to guess the answer to that is no.

The way out of procrastination.

Imagine that you have two board games. One board game is played by the ego-wounded self, whose intent is to control and not be controlled and to protect against mistakes, failure, and rejection. The other board game is played by a loving adult, whose intent is to be loving to you and to others.

The way out of procrastination is to change board games, which you do by changing your intent. There are only two intents to choose from, and since we have free will, we get to choose our intent moment by moment.

As long as your intent (your highest priority) is to protect, avoid, control, and not be controlled, you will remain stuck in resistance. When you choose the intent to learn about what is loving to you and to others, and when being loving with yourself and others is your highest priority, you will get unstuck.

When your intent is to love yourself (rather than letting your fear of failure, rejection, or being controlled control you), then you will find it easy to take loving actions on your own behalf. This is when it becomes easy to get your house clean, to eat well and exercise, to get things done on time and get places on time—because this is what is loving to you.

You can actually stop procrastinating once you decide that loving yourself is way more important to you than avoiding rejection, failure, mistakes, being controlled, or whatever else it is you fear. Loving yourself, and treating yourself lovingly, is the way out of procrastination.


Originally published on Mind Body Green