How Have You Been Lying Lately?

-...telling lies, even small ones,jolts us our of alignment with ourselves.- (1)I think it’s about time I wrote about lying.  It’s such an important topic in the sphere of Procrastination.  There are so many different types of lying, I could categorize and describe them all day.  But since none of us has all day for that, I will just talk about a few.

1.  Lying to others

This is the most broad category of lying, I suppose.  I remember learning in my Developmental Psychology class that lying starts to kick in at around age 7.  Being able to tell lies about what is real is a powerful tool in navigating everyday life.  It gets dangerous however, when we feel we need to rely on small (or large) lies in order to just get through the day.  The lies seem to have more power over us than we do over the lies. Not good. Not healthy.  Very distracting.

2.  Lying about time

I think I may do this type of lying just about every single day.  Maybe multiple times a day.

  • “This will only take 10 minutes.”
  • “I have enough time to finish.”
  • “She won’t care if I’m late again, since she knows how stressed out I am.”
  • “I will start the project when the time is right.”

You know the drill.

3.  Lying about what we are doing

This type of lying is for the dribblers and the drabblers, the dibblers and the dabblers.  We are good at dithering and frittering time away, but not very honest with ourselves about what we are doing to our productivity, our actual time, and our self-esteem when we lie to ourselves and believe that we are being substantially productive when we are not.

4.  Lying just to feel like we have some control over the situation at hand

Sometimes we impulsively lie to fix some part of our self-image in the presence of another person we want love or respect from.

  • “No, I don’t mind.”
  • “I’m totally ready to handle that.”
  • “I’d love to see you today.”
  • “I have time to help out.”

When we do this type of lying we end up weakening our own willpower.  We tell untruths and then feel twisted up about what we’ve said. It’s just how are bodies and minds are — they like to be in alignment, and telling lies, even small ones, jolts us out of alignment with ourselves.

To demonstrate how lying can operate, I will tell you about this very blog post.

After my summer vacation, which was a good one thank you, I felt rested, relaxed, and ready to get back to blogging weekly like I had been doing prior to vacation.  Then one week went by, and another, and another.  I told myself, “This is going to be easy.”  I told friends, “I’ve got to write a post.”  I spent quite a bit of time sifting through different blog titles and subject matter in my head.

Finally, today, I had had enough of the useless chatter inside my head about the fictional blog post.  I had a few minutes and I just started banging away at the keyboard, releasing the pent up energy I had been keeping trapped by lying to myself.  I do feel a lot better, even though I haven’t even finished writing.

If you are in the habit of lying to get out of sticky situations, or because you feel stuck in some way all the time, I hope this post helps you to be more aware of your actions.  I also hope that extra awareness enables you to try speaking truthfully for awhile, just to see how differently you might feel.  Both lying and telling the truth are charged with energy, but when we learn to tell the truth consistently, we are able to function with much more clarity than when we depend on lies to get us through.

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How to Empower Yourself by Identifying Your Internal Conflicts

ConflictWhy should I put myself out there?

In some ways, Procrastinators are really really smart.  They know what’s up when they say to themselves — “If no one is looking, why should I put myself out there?”  After all, if we don’t put ourselves out there, then:

  • time stands still
  • we get to feel comfortable
  • we get to avoid what we are afraid of
  • no one will no how we are feeling
  • we won’t have to feel embarrassed
  • life will just proceed as usual
  • we won’t have to deal with the stress of handling new challenges
  • we won’t have to discover new things about ourselves, including areas in which we are weak
  • we won’t have to exert ourselves

Writing this makes me think of what striving actors must go through.  Going to audition after audition, many of which may not be ideal, and going all in.  Performing with as much unleashed within themselves as they can manage.  Some may even have performance anxiety or stage fright, but audition after audition, they go forward.

What is it about actors that cause them to bypass their own anxiety to move forward?  Do they not have self-doubt?  Do they not fear rejection and failure?  Hmm.  My guess is, actors have figured out a way to perform even as they experience feelings of conflict.

Let’s get back to talking about Procrastinators.  Procrastinators feel they need to shut down functioning once they decide they have reached the end of their safety zone. They are no longer willing to move forward, no matter how important the task is to them, no matter how prepared they might be, and no matter how much they may or may not want to succeed.  Interesting.

Investigate what is the point at which you stop.  Is it:

  • when you’re asked to provide your personal opinion?
  • when you’re asked to be personal?
  • when you’re asked to express feelings?
  • when you are asked to state facts?
  • when you feel you need to be perfect?
  • when you feel you need to provide the right information?
  • when you sense someone is depending on you?
  • when you feel your status or stability might be in jeopardy?
  • when you feel moving forward might launch you into adult-type troubles?
  • when you believe you are not skilled enough to move forward?

There are more types of conflicts than I could ever begin to list fully.  And of course, your conflicts will be very different than my own.  You want to know mine?  My conflicts include:

  • feeling too unimportant to be the main actor in any given situation
  • feeling doubtful of my capacity to be successful
  • feeling like I’m not knowledgeable
  • feeling like I’ll be troubling other people if I need something from someone else
  • feeling like other people won’t understand what I need

Procrastinators turn away from looking squarely at their internal conflicts and instead, believe their conflict resides just within their work.  Now that seems silly to me after doing twenty years of work coaching Procrastinators.  This is silly because never in twenty years has it been just about the work.

When we get stuck, we feel we need to blame something, and it’s nice and tidy to blame the blank page on our desk or computer.  That blank page is so perfect and innocent, and it doesn’t ever yell back or tell you you’re sadly mistaken.

Does this mean we need to rid ourselves of our conflicts?  Though it may help to reduce the power of our internal conflicts, we will probably never be totally clear of them.  After all, they help to make us who we are.  We are human, flaws and all.  What may be more helpful is reminding ourselves — through our actions — that we can proceed with our lives in spite of our conflicts.  We can have full range of motion when we stop allowing our internal hangups to hang us up.

Getting Ourselves to Act

The following is a short list of some techniques to help you get yourself to act, even when you feel burdened by internal conflict:

  1. Do the tiniest bit on the first day.  Repeat this the second day.  Gradually increase the amount you can work each day thereafter.
  2. Write down the conflict that is holding you back.  Then write down five reasons why you should not pay attention to the fear that conflict generates.  Then do Step 1.
  3. Remind yourself of the multiple benefits of going through with your task.  You’ll be happier.  You’ll be more satisfied.  You’ll be rid of your feelings of dread.  Then do Step 1.
  4. Let someone know you’re ready to work.  Tell a person or a group of people that you’ll be done with your project by next week.  You can even let them know that you are conflicted about it, in order to release the energy you have trapped by not working.  Then do Step 1.
  5. Remove the distractions which destroy your focus.  Create a working “zone” where all you can focus on is your one piece of work.  Then do Step 1.

You do not need to be perfect to get things done.  You do not have to be organized to get things done.  You do not need to be in the right mind frame to get things done.  Get used to working on the fly, in between appointments, without overthinking.  Gradually get rid of the feeling of struggle that tends to get paired with work.  Step by step you’ll move past your areas of conflict, and you’ll get there.

Do I have it totally wrong about actors?  Do you experience areas of conflict which seem too large to shake?  Do you have tricks of your own to be productive even when you are feeling in conflict?  Please share here if you feel comfortable doing so.  And remember to follow me on Twitter@ChristineLiPhD because I love it over there.

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On the Importance of Developing Compassion for Yourself (a.k.a. Life without the Jackhammer)

Self-Compassion

This week I found myself going around in circles creatively, and not in a good way.  I had just finished a few major projects, including wrapping up teaching my on-line course, Open to the Possibilities.  I was left with a little more time on my hands, and nothing that was urgent or pressing on my plate.

That should have felt good, or at least okay, but since I have been in recovery from chronic Procrastination, I am loathe to waste any free time I might have.  It’s not that I don’t rest — I do.  I just really like to be productive when I have the space to do so.

My going around in circles probably had something to do with my not knowing what I wanted to focus on next.  Should I offer the course again?  Should I write some more? Should I explore making some instructional videos and let it all hang out on YouTube? Should I just sign up for belly dancing class instead? #serious

Instead of feeling free to explore, I felt like a bit of a flattened out mess.

Then today, I made peace with that reality and I regrouped.  I decided although the first half of the day had been “lost,” that didn’t mean the second half had to be too.  I opened up a blank page on the computer and started typing up a quick chart of what I wanted to get done in the rest of the day, without moaning or groaning.  And by the end of the day, I was on my way towards greater activity and effectiveness again.

In case you are in a period of going around in circles, I’ve put together a quick list of suggestions for you to try in order for you to develop a sense of compassion for yourself:

  • pause
  • meditate for five minutes
  • take deep breaths through your diaphragm (put your hand on your belly — breathe so you can see your hand moving instead of your chest heaving)
  • remind yourself everything including what you are going through is temporary and transient
  • figure out what part of your situation is actually enjoyable or the start of something good
  • decide for yourself that you can break away from the state you have been caught in
  • call or text someone just to let the stress out

You could also take a different path.  You could decide to take a tornado’s way out of things.  Blitz through all that is in front of you.  Make all the decisions.  Send all the texts. Plan out the next two weeks.  Whatever your needs call for.  Or you can just decide to resume as usual, but without the burden of having to carry your jackhammer around all day long.

What jackhammer?  Oh, the one you’ve been working with.  The inner voice that beats you up when you are not productive and the one you don’t need to keep in your toolkit anymore.

What’s in your compassion toolkit?  What helps you to cope with periods of low-to-no productivity?  I look forward to hearing from you.  Please remember to follow me on Twitter@ChristineLiPhD for more insights into breaking free of Procrastination and zooming around the rest of your life.

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How to Get Rid of the Most Potent Factor Causing You to Procrastinate

Self-doubt

Let’s try to figure out what’s getting in your way.

Why can’t you finish what you’ve started?

Why do your ideas never see the light of day?

Why can’t you introduce yourself to that cute new neighbor of yours?

Why is your workspace a cluttered mess?

Here’s my opinion for the day: you are overburdened by self-doubt.  Self-doubt tells us:

  • we should not try
  • we should not defend ourselves
  • we should not stand up for ourselves
  • we should keep the things as they are as best as we can because it is what we know
  • no one will listen
  • it’s not ready
  • I’m not ready
  • it’s not good enough
  • I’m not good enough
  • it’s ridiculous
  • it’ll take too long
  • it’ll be too hard
  • there’s not enough time
  • take your time
  • hiding out is a better option that showing up
  • we can never change
  • we can never grow
  • we can never be our full, operational selves

Wow.  Self-doubt is a kicker.  It kicks our motivation, and sometimes even our inspiration, to the curb.  It makes us believe we were never really that motivated in the first place.

In case you haven’t had your share of healthy nutrients today, here’s some powerful juice for killing your self-doubt:

You are more capable than you can even imagine.

You have more potential for action than you could ever use in a lifetime.

You can change your pattern of doing things within the next hour.

You are in charge of yourself and the thoughts you allow yourself to listen to.  You do not have to listen to trash talk and lies about yourself anymore.

You are the best person for changing things in the right direction for you.  You do not have to rely on anyone else and you do not have to fear anyone else any longer.

Self-doubt is mental and emotional clutter.  It can get out of control very quickly and very easily.  It can take up so much of your time that it really does feel like there is no time left to work.  The truth of the matter is you do have the time, but you will not have the emotional energy and mental fortitude to do your work if you are burdened by the clutter of self-doubt.

Do one thing today to prove to yourself your own capacity for action and change.  And then repeat this action over and over again until your self-doubt is gone.  Best wishes to you.

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There’s Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You

Your dissatisfaction can go now.There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.

I’ve been trying mightily to train myself to let things be.  This is harder than getting a Ph.D. in Psychology y’all since I managed that but still struggle with the other.

Many life moments have brought this important life step to my attention.  Facing loss, illness, stress, and unwelcome surprises.  Watching some people let things be so magically and watching others spend every spare second figuring out what to worry and stress out about next.  Wanting to get clearer on my own life’s purpose while also trying to reduce any sense of heaviness or burden in it.

Getting into this as a practice of daily living has been interesting so far.  I have tried to be more mindful of my approach.  Simplicity helps.  Limiting how much I worry helps. Believing everything will be alright helps.

There’s an essential anxiety about living.  Tension in every moment perhaps.  Fill it or let it be?  So many of us choose to fill, fill, fill.  Letting it be seems like a loser easy way out.

But there’s the rub.  We’ve been faked out.  We Procrastinators stop functioning because we get scared or frustrated or too busy or freaked out or bored or befuddled or apathetic. We respond to the moment by listening to our feelings about it rather than to the moment and what it calls for.

So here’s what I’ve been meaning to tell you.  You needn’t worry.  You needn’t struggle to find out the gazillion ways you know this moment doesn’t suit you or isn’t perfect.  Your dissatisfaction can go now.  It might leave slowly, but it can definitely go.  And you can handle what is in front of you.

And here’s something I’ve been telling everyone I can: listen to the James Altucher podcast, episode number 119 with Michael Singer — The Surrender Experiment.  It’s a great discussion of how to work the letting go and accepting mindset.  Enjoy.

What do you have difficulty accepting?  Which feelings prevent you from being okay with what is happening around you?  What can you decide to let go of?  Please share some thoughts with us here.  Best wishes to you today.  

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Develop Your Zone of Comfort

Feel Well There’s been a lot written about the importance of pushing past your “comfort zone” in order to do creative work, and to be productive in general.  Sometimes that idea helps me, other times it just doesn’t feel right for me.  I’m not really a Rambo-type of personality, and thank goodness most days I don’t need to be like Rambo.

The idea came to me this morning, that for many Procrastinators, instead of pushing our boundaries, we may need to develop our comfort zones more actively.  The idea came to me as I was sipping my warm rice wine and boiled egg soup breakfast, my secret concoction for feeling ready to take on any day.  You see, I was in my comfort zone.

I truly believe if we do not feel well, we cannot work well.  And oftentimes, it is our responsibility to create the opportunities to remind ourselves that we are well, that we can continue to be well, and that the day ahead will be manageable come what may. If you are lacking in the experience of feeling comfort and find yourself locked in zones of stress, I suggest you consider making some of the following zones a reality:

  • a place in your home for privacy
  • a shelf on your bookshelf for reminders or memories of a loved one
  • a breakfast that reliably makes you feel healthy and awesome
  • a nook or corner to sit for a few minutes and read or meditate daily
  • a wall or vision board of images and quotes you select for the inspiration you need
  • a secret project you tend to everyday, like knitting a hip and trendy shawl #shawljustisnotatrendywordbutdoesconnotecomfort

Sometimes productivity requires aggressive planning and action.  But sometimes productivity gets blocked when we try too hard, worrying about being perfect and about feeling ashamed of what we do.  Let’s not forget that productivity may also be the result of daily, calm, and focused effort.  Namaste.

What do you use or have as a zone of comfort?  Do you have plans to make one?  Are you more like Rambo than I am?  Please share your experiences with us by replying here.

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Name Your Fears

Virginia WoolfIn my work as a psychologist, I listen to patients and the fears they harbor.  Since I tend to work with Procrastinators, the fears I hear about most frequently go like this:

  • fear of making mistakes: we worry about doing something the wrong way
  • fear of being awkward: we worry someone else will see that we are not exactly “normal”
  • fear of disappointment: we worry if we move forward with our plans, they will not pan out as we’d like
  • fear of letting someone down: we worry even our best performance will be unsatisfactory to those we are trying to please or to impress
  • fear of rejection: we worry we will not be accepted for who we are
  • fear of being called out: we worry our worst flaws will finally be seen by someone

The list above shows how vulnerable we each can feel, even over mundane matters.  It also shows how important being accepted and being treated kindly matter to us.

The great, unfortunate, irony for Procrastinators is we end up treating ourselves more harshly and viciously than anyone else would.  We do this in the name of self-protection. We try to protect ourselves from re-experiencing hurts we went through or witnessed when we were younger.  We do this by being vigilant and perfectionistic.  We do this by warning ourselves to be careful where we step.  When we use a self-protection mindset as a method of coping with life, our lives tend to get clouded with a general feeling of worry.  When we do this over many years, we end up forgetting our original fears and wind up developing a generalized fear of taking any action.

The benefit of naming your fears, to yourself or to someone else, is a return to the present moment and to life outside the cloud of worry.  When I help patients to name their fears, I also help them to understand their immense capacity to take care of themselves and to handle whatever may happen once they take action.  Most patients tend to find these ideas much more comforting and realistic than the fears they had been carrying around.

Perhaps the real benefit of facing your long-held fears is to replace that feeling of worry that resides in your chest with a feeling of calm self-acceptance.  When we develop and nurture that feeling, it becomes much easier to sidestep worry.  It becomes much easier to be ourselves, no matter what action is required of us.  And that feeling of calm self-acceptance is possible for each of us.

Do you see a bit of yourself in the list of fears?  Can you challenge yourself today to test and break down your specific fear?  Please feel free to share your thoughts on this humongous topic by posting a comment here.

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On Strengthening Your Capacity to Trust

Image

TrustProcrastinators are known to have problems with getting work done.  I wonder, often, if there is something more to Procrastination other than the actual work.  In my experience working with clients who are trying to recover from chronic Procrastination, the root of the Procrastination problem never seems to be the actual work itself.

More often, it seems Procrastinators appear to have a problem with trust.  Most often the issue appears to be difficulty with trusting other people. We can have trouble trusting other people to see:

  • our point of view
  • our effort
  • our intention

We may have trouble trusting people:

  • not to be punitive
  • to be kind
  • to be fair
  • to be empathic
  • to be forgiving
  • to understand

We also have trouble trusting that other people are human like we are.  Complete with flaws and quirks we wish no one else knew about.

The reality is, we grow to be distrusting in these ways as a result of various events in our own childhood and past.  We may have grown up amidst chaos and trauma.  We may have had a severely punitive parent or caretaker.  We may have had a tendency towards acting the role of “parent” even though we were the “child.”  We may have had parents who didn’t know how to communicate effectively, leaving us to wonder whether we were on the right track in our own behaviors.

Whichever road you travelled, somewhere on that road you decided it was unsafe to put your trust in others.  You also decided you needed to shoulder your burdens, even the most painful ones, on your own.

We can free ourselves of our distrusting stance by realizing the people we find hard to trust in our adult lives are not the same people we feared in earlier days.  Don’t get me wrong – people can be judgmental, unforgiving, critical, arrogant, and obnoxious.  The good news is we are not the same people we were in earlier days either.  We are capable, vocal, multi-dimensional, mature, and able to rely on both our thoughts and feelings in meaningful ways.  We can handle things now.

If you have trouble seeing yourself as being able to handle what other people do and say to you, chances are you haven’t had enough experiences to make you feel a sense of self-efficacy.  Self-efficacy is the mega-important concept that we believe we can achieve what we set out to do.  And of course, that’s the big kahuna connection with Procrastination.  Without our own sense of being able to achieve what we want to, Procrastination and a sense of inefficacy are our only options.  We are left thinking and feeling that we do not have the power to achieve what we would like to.

So now it’s up to you. Who are you going to trust today? 

There are many avenues towards building a more trusting attitude towards other people.  One key way to become more trusting (and confident) in your interactions is to release your grip on the situation.  Have faith that you will not need to be in control of each factor and every outcome.

Another key towards becoming more trusting is to allow the people you are interacting with to be themselves.  It’s an interesting concept not controlling everyone.  Hmmmm.

Finally, have trust that the relationship will take the work of TWO of you, not just one of you.  If there are misunderstandings and disagreements, talk them through.  If you need to disclose your needs to the people you’re working with, do so.  Trust is a building process, so go build.

If you feel like you’ll never be able to feel comfortable placing trust in someone else’s hands, I suggest you consider finding a therapist or coach to help you.  The therapeutic relationship between you and your therapist or coach is designed to teach you how to trust the world, other people, and yourself.  It will be worth the time, energy, and money you spend to be able to feel enabled to lead the life you want to lead.

As a side note, blogging has been an interesting experience for me in learning to build trust.  I have to have faith I can say what I mean to say.  I have to have confidence you’ll be willing to receive what I have to offer in each blogpost.  I have to trust you won’t laugh at what I spend my free time thinking about.  And because I continue to blog, I have developed a deeper sense of trust in my own voice and thinking, even though I sometimes still feel I have no idea what I’m doing.  Practice, practice.

I do know I appreciate your time and attention always.  Now go find those people in your life who want your time and attention too.  I trust you can do it.

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Don’t Insist On Clarity


Procrastinators are great at telling themselves what to do and what not to do.  Unfortunately, many of those directions are rooted in a need for total clarity.  Procrastinators tend not to act if there is an absence of clarity.

In case I’m not making sense yet, here are some examples of what I mean:

  • I’m not going to throw out this piece of paper because I might need it someday
  • I’m not going to say “hello” to her in case she doesn’t recognize me
  • I’m not going to finish this essay even though the deadline is approaching because I’m not sure if my professor is going to like what I’m saying
  • I’m not going to move forward on this project because I do not have a sense of how it is all going to turn out
  • I’m going to delay making this decision because I don’t know a better way to manage my stress about having to make this decision

I think it’s ironic how Procrastinators are seen as slackers, when in fact, many of us Procrastinators suffer in inactivity because we care so much about making things right.

We get ourselves in trouble when we insist on having total clarity before making a move.

My own method of bypassing this need for clarity is to work on accepting that so many things and outcomes in life are never going to be clear.  I know from my own life story and from the stories of the patients I have worked with over many years that we cannot know how things will turn out in:

  • our career choices
  • our choice of partners
  • the transitions we often have to go through
  • matters of our physical health
  • the aftermath of a major disappointment
  • others’ lives
  • our best-laid plans

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not made of steel.  I still occasionally get totally flattened by anxiety because I’m not in total control of what will happen when I have to make a decision.

If you are currently feeling stuck, stifled, or stressed out by a decision you have to make, take a step back and see what you know already.  It may be you started feeling paralyzed from acting because you knew you had enough information to go on, but didn’t want to risk making the wrong move.  It could be you were so afraid to look at the details involved in your situation, that your decision making skills ground to a halt.  It might be your fear of taking control of your own life made you feel unable to make a reasonable choice.

Avoid stopping yourself from moving forward.  It’s okay to be clear.

We can speak with clarity and assertiveness about our decisions, even if we are not sure which way things are going to turn out.  We can know with clarity that we arrived at our decision after sufficient thought and consideration, and because we tried our best in the decision-making process.

Do yourself a favor today and take a look at any situations which make you feel nervous or afraid to act.  Here’s how:

  1. Evaluate what is frightening you.  Be very specific so you can know how to target your fear.
  2. Specifically target that fear.  If you have a penchant for thinking that others might think you are not responsible, every time that distracting thought comes into your head, take a minute to say to yourself, “Oh, there’s my fear of being seen as irresponsible again.  Bo-ring.  Now where was I?”  Repeat as often as necessary, and hopefully to a point where you’re so bored with your self-attacks that you stop launching them!
  3. Bring your anxiety down.  Calm yourself down by taking a pause, taking a shower, calling a friend, or taking a walk.  Avoid spending too much time getting calmer.  As you take steps to calm yourself, you’ll be keeping an eye on yourself to make sure you are working towards your goal, not away from it.
  4. Take the fastest route towards moving that fear out of your perspective. Outline the next step you will take to move forward.
  5. Commit to something involving the number 3.  Tell yourself you will only allow yourself to delay for another 3 minutes, 30 minutes, 3 hours, or 3 days.  You get to pick which time frame.  Pick the 3 that fits your circumstances the best.  What is the absolute fastest time frame you can make your next move within? Three days is the outer limit because honestly, after you’ve waited more than 3 days to work on something, you have bigger problems brewing than just the original project you have been worrying about.
  6. Coach yourself into believing that everything will work out okay.  This is something that is difficult for people with anxiety, obsessional tendencies, depression, or negative thinking.  It is something that is difficult for all of us at different times.  We cannot face having to make an action if we are consumed with the problems that lie just ahead.  Remind yourself that our minds and bodies were built for smooth functioning and for resiliency in those times when stress is high.  Utilize that high-level imagination you have and convince yourself that all will work out in the end.

These suggestions demonstrate how we can move forward despite not having a guarantee on our outcomes.  When we stay in motion, we are able to see our options more clearly and to move towards better opportunities more quickly because we are already in motion.  With all the complexities involved in our lives, having that type of clarity feels sufficient and good.

Please consider following me on Twitter for more information on how to break away from Procrastination and to improve your productivity.

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5 Ways to Get Moving When You are Really Stuck

5 Ways to Get Moving  When You are (1)Lately, I seem to be feeling stuck every day.  Whether it’s an e-mail I don’t want to reply to or an uncomfortable interpersonal dynamic I don’t want to address, it seems I am in a bad run kind of way.

There are so many reasons we can get really stuck.  So stuck that:

  • we can’t concentrate
  • we feel nauseous (or that may just be me)
  • it doesn’t make any real sense to us why we are so stuck
  • it feels critical to solve the matter so we can feel happy again
  • even though we have the actual time to accomplish the task, we never seem to be able to get started on it

I have found that when I find myself in predicaments like the kind I just described, the reason I cannot seem to move forward is rooted in my emotional life.  Not just one feeling, but a veritable compendium of feelings.  To give you an example, before I begin to do my yearly taxes, I end up feeling this lovely mix of feelings:

  • I am in no mood for this again
  • I can’t believe I am going through this exact same crazy dance with myself again
  • I’m forgetting something again
  • Why can’t I get my record keeping in order, even after so many years?
  • My accountant must be losing patience with me
  • Why didn’t I manage to save more of “my potatoes” (as my accountant would say) this past year?

This list goes on, but I don’t want to scare you so I’ll stop there.

Since Procrastinators are prone to having many episodes of feeling really stuck, I thought I’d suggest some techniques for prying ourselves out of that frying pan that we can get ourselves into:

  1. Separate what is business from what is personal.  If you are in a tangled mess of thoughts, tease out which of those thoughts are business-related and take care of those first.  That way, you will have more peace of mind and will therefore be in a better place to deal with your difficult or problematic feelings after all the business has been taken care of.
  2. Talk over your feelings with someone who isn’t directly involved in the matter.  Even better, talk about the way you feel with someone who does have some involvement in the matter.  Just the act of expressing yourself to another person may allow you to feel more empowered to get your work done.  You may also gain extra insights to help you get your task completed in a timely manner.
  3. Have compassion for yourself for feeling the way you do.  Do NOT feel more embarrassed or humiliated than you already do.  Begin to turn that dynamic around so you can begin to sense you have the capacity to take action again.
  4. Take action.  In general, the actions that most effectively get me out of my disaster zones are making e-mails, texts, or phone calls.  Once I’ve gotten those communications out of the way, I feel it’s a bit easier to wait for what might be the next step for me to take, rather than dreading the next steps I am supposed to take.
  5. Remember that with most all things, eventually we need to move forward.  Even when we are emotionally stonewalled, we, for the sake of our mental and emotional health, need to move forward.  When we don’t deal with our more difficult feelings head on, they tend to show up in some other time or place just to aggravate us again.

We can’t address our Procrastination fully without dealing with the feelings which cause us to delay and to sabotage ourselves and our projects.  When we are feeling the most stuck, we may be in the middle of the best opportunity to learn about what gets us stuck.

I wish you the best of luck in making your way through your next challenge, and in gaining momentum as you go.

What are you stuck in currently?  What feelings are too painful for you to open up and to face?  Who can you speak with to help you feel more motivated to move forward?

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