Have you been trying to catch up for some time but you can’t? Have you ever thought that you may be procrastinating? You are not alone! This situation is more common than it seems.
What is procrastination?
The procrastination is a voluntary delay in carrying out certain activities that generate anxiety and general suffering . This behavior can be conscious, which makes you postpone it by prioritizing something else or simply admitting to yourself that you don’t want to do it at that moment, or it can be unconscious, in which case the postponement can occur through forgetfulness or non-priority occupations that start to gain momentary importance.
In one way or another, the fact is that it is complex, as it involves behavioral, emotional and cognitive factors.
The momentary avoidance of carrying out a task can generate temporary relief and that is why procrastination ends up being so common in our daily lives. The accumulation of activities leads to losses and worsening malaise, in addition to affecting our quality of life.
Procrastination is a very common behavior among students (high school and university students) who postpone the performance of their readings and tasks. However, not only students are affected, everyone is liable to procrastinate, for example: when carrying out household chores, making an appointment, looking for specific professional care such as psychological counseling, making an important decision or even postponing a conversation on a subject that is considered difficult, delicate or unpleasant.
We tend to believe, with this postponement, that in the near future we will have more willingness and courage to carry out the activity avoided at the present time.
The act of procrastinating ends up creating more and more constant cycles in the life of the procrastinator, and this has a strong relationship with anxiety , which is normal to some extent, but when it becomes excessive it becomes sickening .
Anxiety alone comes with manifestations of uncomfortable and unpleasant signs and symptoms. Along with anxiety there is excessive worry , and some procrastinators may see the concern as something positive, with the false feeling that worrying helps to face problems to be solved, but what happens is the opposite.
How does the relationship between anxiety and procrastination work?
But, it is not that simple, we must consider that there may be several factors involved such as:
- Personality traits,
- Fear of dealing with failure,
- Difficulties in dealing with your own emotions,
- Low level of attention,
- Situational factors,
- Environmental factors such as strict and critical parents,
- Lack of organization or even a wrong way of interpreting the facts.
Scholars on the topic argue that there are types of procrastinators, and can be summarized as follows:
- Those who do not know how to start tasks;
- Those who do not want to perform the tasks even if it is necessary;
- Those who have a strong concern for doing things perfectly.
Procrastination and the fear of failure
The act of procrastinating can be linked to the fear of failure, the fear of failure or the fear of not being able to cope with the activity initiated and can serve as a “protection strategy” of one’s self-esteem.
Fear can be unconscious and based on a belief in the inability to perform the task successfully, permeated by an insecurity about your own ability. It is as if the procrastinator hears within his own head that he does not have to deal with the activity, whatever it may be, and therefore avoids it.
This may also indicate a self-regulatory failure, which implies a difficulty in the ability to regulate your thoughts, behaviors and emotions.
Other characteristics can also be predictors of procrastinating behavior and contribute to the installation of this behavior, such as:
- Low self esteem;
- Low frustration tolerance;
- Dislike the task to be performed.
Procrastination has a strong relationship with concern, as has already been mentioned. The literature that discusses the theme indicates that they contribute to procrastinating action:
- The perfectionist concern focused on mistakes;
- The concern with the expectations of others;
- The concern with decision making;
- A positive view of the concern, which ends up inducing a cycle aimed at procrastination.
How can psychological counseling help?
Psychological monitoring aims at health promotion, assistance in coping with a difficult situation or disorder, training new skills, among other things, always thinking about the general well-being of those who seek the service.
Thinking about procrastination, when this behavior causes functional, academic and even physical losses due to the development of anxious conditions, muscle tension, sleep disorders, imbalance in appetite or other manifestations, it may be an indication that the subject can no longer cope alone with the situation. In this sense, the assistance of a qualified professional may be appropriate.
In the psychotherapeutic process, which consists of having qualified listening and empathy, the professional can assist the procrastinator in coping with the discomfort generated and the accumulated losses. Specifically in my line of work with Cognitive-behavioral Therapy , since it is an approach focused on the here-now, this being a collaborative and psychoeducative approach, it is possible to:
- Assist in the process of self-knowledge;
- Identify dysfunctional thought patterns;
- Identify the situations and consequences of procrastination;
- Training to develop focused attention;
- Cognitive restructuring;
- Use of psychological tools and resources to strengthen the capacity to face situations where there is a desire to procrastinate;
- Modification of positive beliefs about the concern;
- Strengthening rational beliefs about performing tasks.
There are no magic formulas for achieving results. To break the procrastination cycle, it is necessary, within its own limits, to carry out planned actions, giving up momentary well-being by avoiding with awareness of the feelings and emotions felt, and with the appropriate strategies to face the discomfort generated at the present moment, focusing on greater and more pleasant relief in the future, with the tasks performed.