Chapter 4 – More Musings on Procrastination
Let the dust settle. You’re running around frantically avoiding things and then maybe frantically doing things (the wrong things.) And it’s a waste. It’s for no one. It’s seemingly for you, but you’re getting no benefit. No one else is getting benefit from this. Let this terrible project and habit just stop and rest.
Procrastination keeps us locked in at a set level. If I can’t get past my obstacle, then I’ll always be here. And so, there’s something comforting in that. It feels safe and secure, sitting at this level. I can’t tell you to be less delusional. We’re all delusional. Procrastination is delusional, for sure. It’s a sickness we all share. Some are more susceptible to it. Some think they’re stronger than it. Fools.
It’s a really strange condition, to have conflicted directives within yourself. Animals know only their physical needs, and they pursue them ruthlessly. But humans get confused, lose faith, cower and avoid. Take a minute to notice how strange this is. Part of you must wish all your needs were just met. That no effort was required. That you didn’t have to go to work tomorrow. We all have such fantasies. No one voices them because who would listen? It’s all obvious. Voice them to yourself. In my opinion, part of the thrust of procrastination comes from a deep part of yourself that feels it isn’t being heard or acknowledged. Acknowledge all the anti-social thoughts you have. Write them if you want, or just think them to yourself. Give yourself personal to be an insane, terrible, unreasonable person. Listen to what this being has to say.
Humans can also lie. This, too, is a strange gift. We can build elaborate (or not) mini worlds that suit our interests and give them to others. You, the procrastinator, have likely given and received a terrible “lie-gift” tonight, in the form of… “I’ll do it later”, “I’ll still have plenty of time”, etc. You are slowly opening this “lie-gift” now, and feeling its poison.
Some people procrastinate with news or conspiracy theories. This is especially poisonous because the procrastinatory (?) state is very unstable. Its view of the world is very unclear and unstable and unsure of itself. Watching news (most of which is horrible) just feeds weird theories and breaks up any coherence of a motivating worldview you might have been able to develop.
Sometimes I’ll snap out of it and think – there is no “procrastination.” It’s a empty concept. There are only the tasks before me. There is only this life before me. There is only this specific situation. Everything about this case is hyper specific and I should not go on believing that procrastination is a general concept that we all share. I’m not PROCRASTINATING.. I’m putting off DOING THE DISHES because I’d rather WATCH YOUTUBE VIDEOS. THIS is what’s happening. Not “procrastination” AS SUCH! But this way of thinking is a mistake. Yes, your specific problem is, indeed, very specific, but the fact that we’re able to communicate about it means there is something universal about it.
Let’s be honest. It’s a holding pattern. A kind of stimming. It’s a fight within yourself and you’d be better off just taking one side and following it through but instead you want to just watch the fight and stay where you are. Lack of decisiveness is definitely key. That’s the standard diagnosis though. It’s not JUST lack of decisiveness. It’s a lack of faith in oneself. Sure, I can DECIDE anything. But why should I follow through on it? What binds me to this decision? I am worthless. I am not to be trusted. I have my record in front of me with failure after failure, delay, delay, delay.
Some people lose faith in God due to deep skepticism, and then go on to lose their faith in themselves. They go overboard with this deep skepticism of concepts they once treasured and then deploy this skepticism on anything and everything. I’m not saying faith in God is the antidote. I don’t have the antidote. On the other hand, some people find great empowerment by reading atheist and particularly existentialist authors because by rejecting faith in God, they’re free to double down on faith in themselves. To me, this dynamic shows that a powerless person will seek power of any kind. If you’re procrastinating, feeling hopeless and powerless, you might need to go get built up before you can do anything (and that’s perfectly normal.) Go read something that says what you need to hear. You can be critical about it later. Go try on the perspective.
Human beings crave autonomy and purpose. Procrastination seems to be throwing out the current purpose in exchange for autonomy of any kind, even self-destructive autonomy.
Procrastination is difficult to describe, it’s elusive. You have to recall specific moments of intense procrastination to get at it. I put off numerous papers in high school and college, put off changing my address when I moved, etc. But it’s hard to generalize. We avoid different things for different reasons. And I’m not sure there’s one thing you could tell me at the peak of those procrastinations that would have snapped me out of it or made me feel better. I guess If I could catch myself earlier, I would say prepare in advance… (That advice would have worked probably.)
There’s really no general solution to a disorganized will. You may not be smart enough to solve all of your problems. Maybe you need to accept that. Maybe you need help. Maybe you need to go to whoever gave you this task and just ask for help. You may break down. You may get angry. You may cry. Your burden may be too heavy. You might lose lots of important things to you – house, car, friends – due to procrastination. That might happen. And it may be completely out of your hands. You may just not have the constitution to be a 5AM go-getter, or an 8AM go-getter, or an 11AM go-getter (at 11AM, not really a go-getter at that point…) You might be a moron (I explore this idea later in more detail). Statistically, some of us ARE morons.
You might just lose this time, bro. Take the loss.