For a long time, I suffered from self-doubt. Procrastinators do. They know they can't trust themselves. When they get an inspiring idea and feel the thrill of possibility, it is followed almost instantly by a quiet voice that says "yeah fucking right." Deep down every new, exciting idea, to a procrastinator, is a lie. That's why mantras and positive affirmations so rarely work for master procrastinators, without stopping the abuse. They work for a period of time, before the habit kicks in again, and that voice says "I told you so."
In my mindset coaching group I learned it's the feeling you get from the mantra, more than the actual words that work. But for procrastinators, when we say the positive words, the feelings are often self-doubt, or even contempt. We hear that liar telling us bullshit again. On a conscious level it sounds great and exciting, but in the nervous system it's almost like "oh no - here we go again." Your system subconsciously knows starting something new means that roller coaster of -- saying you're going to do it -- not doing it -- staying up all night forcing yourself to do it -- living in chaos -- and all the while beating yourself up for it. Starting something new in the subconscious mind signals a new beginning of the cycle of abuse.
What is more, when procrastinators do accomplish your goals, you actually do a great job, because of the high-functioning-ness... and yet you live in imposter-syndrome. You know secretly you could’ve done better if you'd given yourself more time. Or that the great job doesn't really count because it was such a shit show to get there in the end. You never allow yourself to feel successful, even if others think you're awesome.
Can you see the cycle of abuse and self-limiting behaviour? There is no payoff for this. It is pure habit through and through.
So... What’s the answer? What is the fucking answer?
The answer is to cut off the abuse from the source. Not by doing the thing (remember, you've already said you're going to change. It hasn't worked.) Not by forcing yourself (anticipating the force, forcing, and the aftermath of the force - this IS the abuse). No. The answer is to cut off the source of the abuse.
This is recovery. It's not a magic pill that will have you wake up after one day, a different person with different patterns. This is the in-between time when you are slowly changing your habit from the inside out.
It takes time and approval.
What is Approval?
Approval is permission. Your mission in recovery is not to do the thing. The thing will get done when it gets done. Let. It. Go.
Your mission is to stop the abuse and give your system – your nervous system, your psyche, your heart, your soul, the time and space to heal. Remember that small rescue dog. Recovery is the time where you will be learning that you're not a bad person. There's nothing "wrong" with you. You are functional. You don't lie anymore. You don't beat yourself up anymore. Recovery is the time when you are petting the dog gently, going, "it's okay. It's okay." And if she wants to stay under the bed, you slide the water bowl under there and leave her be for a while. Let her calm down.
What does this mean in real terms? It means you give yourself permission to not do the thing.
Look – hold on – slow down. I know it sounds totally crazy. The thing WILL get done. Let go of that, and breathe.
Give yourself permission to not do the thing. You weren't going to do it today anyway. You have to stop the lying. DO NOT say you're going to do it. Say "maybe I will, maybe I won't." Stop the lying.
At the end of the day, the voice will come up and say, "See, you didn't do it!" And you can reply, "I never said I would." And your system will breathe a sigh of relief.
When you've had a productive time, don't pretend tomorrow will also be productive. If your natural tempo is to have a rest after productivity, then schedule rest. Stop the lies. Don't wake up the second day pretending it's going to be another super-productive day, and then spend it in avoidance. Stop the lies. Just schedule in rest. My Jewish friend tells me I'm taking Shabbat. Mother Nature would call it winter, repose, contraction, gestation, germination, whatever. You can't expect every season to be harvest season. Trust your current tempo and schedule in rest. If you're scrolling on your phone, sitting in a cafe, watching tv, eating bonbons, sleeping, masturbating, doing laundry, cleaning, painting your nails, visiting friends, shopping, or working on something that isn't due, instead of the thing that IS due... I don't care. Schedule it in. Stop the lies. Give yourself permission. You're going to do that anyway.
Your goal now is to stop the source of the abuse. I don't know how long this phase takes.
I also don't really know how it works. I've had several teachers explain it in different ways:
What you resist persists.
Trusting your natural Tempo.
The masculine vs the feminine ways of doing vs being.
Mama Gena calls for self-approval in everything we do, be, and feel.
Give yourself permission to do what you're actually doing, and somehow the other shit will get done. In the time that it's meant to. Somehow, when you have permission to NOT do the thing, you feel like doing the thing. Don't ask me HOW. For god's sake, let it go.