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How to stop being a procrastination badger

Happiness & Fulfilment

Today I got sucked into an hour-long Instagram scroll and came out feeling a little sick.

I came out of my daze triggered by all the inauthenticity, triggered by thinking how much I suck at social media as a business owner who should care more about consistently showing up, and pissed that I wasted an hour of my brain’s life.

I used to do this daily.

I’d scroll and scroll, knowing I didn’t want to keep going, but doing it anyway.

Until one day I decided enough was enough. I decided to practice what I teach in the Bloody Good Life program. Unfortunately, this meant I had to sit and FEEL how shitty I felt after an hour long scroll. I didn’t distract myself. I just left the shitty feeling there percolating around my chest like a big heavy slug.

The next time I’d go to open instagram,

the slug would wake up again and slug-screech at me… “NOOoooo!”

I’d open that damn pink-orange app anyway. The addictive part of my brain can be pretty controlling.

When I came to my senses 67 minutes later, tired tears were leaking out the side of one eye. I stared at the 591st woman doing that sick-making thing where they peer into the screen all doe eyed and “un-made-up”, then tap-cover the camera with their hand and reappear all glammed up and frankly, looking significantly worse.

Then I sat and felt the sick-slug of what-the-fuck-ness slither around my chest and throat.

Yick.

The next time I went to open Instagram, the slug shrieked with great gusto, and I threw the phone across my bed before I could open the damn app.

Success.

Until next time.

Eventually, I just deleted the app before I could get sucked into it again, and my whole body felt a sigh of relief. The slug packed it’s bags and went on holiday to Spain.

I haven’t had Instagram or Facebook on my phone for years now – my social media manager posts all my blog posts for me (like this one), and I use the FB business app to respond to comments and messages so I never have to actually use the apps myself except for brief stints to post an Insta story, on the rare occasion that I feel inspired to.

And except the odd occasion when I’m feeling in a self sabotaging mood.

But after so long off the apps, they don’t hold the same addictive pull for me anymore – I feel more fear about going ON the apps rather than getting off them now.

I used to be an absolute pro at getting stuck doing things I didn’t want to do, and procrastinating on all the things I did — but also didn’t — want to do, like starting Project Self.

Remember that time you kicked your pinky toe on the corner of the bed,

and then for ages afterwards your feet naturally made give the bed a wide berth? (Until you bashed your foot again).

Or the time you burnt the roof of your mouth on a hot coffee, and then forever after you were more careful about the first sip (except for the times you weren’t).

The handy thing about pain is – it’s there to send us a message.

“FOR THE LOVE OF YODA!” your pain shouts “Don’t do this shit again, it sucks.”

If there’s something you’re doing that you don’t like doing – procrastinating, or doing too much of something that makes you feel shitty – I have something unconventional to try.

Feel your feelings.

One of my clients has been procrastinating on fixing up her garden. For years.

Every time she sees the piles of mess in her garden, her mind regales her with abuse about how useless she is, and how she never follows things through.

She’ll do anything on the weekend to distract herself and avoid going out in the garden.

Which only compounds the problem.

My coaching homework for her is to sit and feel how uncomfortable it feels when she’s procrastinating.

Really feel the pain of it. The mind’s abuse, the anxious feeling that follows her round, the feelings of uselessness – really feel how rubbish that all feels.

When she thinks of doing the garden she feels overwhelmed, and that feels painful. None of us like overwhelm.

But when she procrastinates, she feels a horrible cocktail of 15,000 horrible emotions, which plague her throughout the day and whenever she looks out at the garden. Which is often.

I envision her (and all my 1:1 clients who procrastinate, including myself) like a cavewoman in a loincloth, standing between two tigers. One tiger, the garden, is pretty small – the Overwhelm Tiger.

The other tiger, the procrastination, is a mammoth tiger – the I-suck-I-can-never-follow-anything-through-anxiety-guilt-heaviness-shame-lethargy Tiger.

When a cavewoman finds herself between two tigers,

she has to make a choice and run away from one towards the other. If she looks carefully, the answer is clear – run towards the small tiger, get a small bite, but at least manage to avoid the extreme pain of being attacked by the huge tiger.

The problem is, in our packed-to-the-eyeballs day and age – our devices and lives are absolute pros at distracting us from noticing how bloody big these Mammoth Procrastination Tigers are.

So we keep running away from the small tigers (the tasks we don’t want to do), smack wallop into these mammoth tigers, who really fuck us up.

Hence a trick to try for my fellow procrastinators out there.

Humans will always run from pain whenever we can.

So notice the pain you’re causing yourself by procrastinating.

Feel it.

Feel it and feel it and feel it until you can’t tolerate it anymore.

Only then will running towards the small tiger seem like a great option.

And then the thing will be done.

Pstt - enjoyed this blog post? Splendid news! If you fancy getting these snippets of self-deprecating radical honesty delivered freshly to your inbox moments(ish) after I take them out of the gluten free oven (every week or three-ish), subscribe over here.

I have an online workshop coming up (details TBC) called How to be Less of a Dick to Yourself (AKA Self Compassion for Sceptics)! I would love you to join us — It’s going to be bloody splendid! Click here to register your interest.

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