7 Reasons why people procrastinate

 

stop-procrastination

7 Reasons why people procrastinate

Procrastination means putting something that we know we need to do. Most of us procrastinate to some extent. We have all said “I’ll do it later” or “I must get around to doing that”. But some people habitually procrastinates to such an extent that tasks build up their lives become very stressful.

Procrastination often amounts to deliberately avoiding having to confront our fears. Procrastination flourishes into optimal conditions. First, when the task is not urgent-we do not have to do it right now-there is time to do it in future. Second, when there is something more pleasurable to do now. Procrastination is usually about putting pleasure before pain.

1) Lacking a sense of mastery

You may hold the attitude that successful people achieve their goals without frustration and self-doubt. When the going gets tough you think, “this is not how it should be, this is wrong” and give up. Whereas people who are consistently successful have a ‘sense of mastery’ and assume that life will be a tough frustrating struggle, to be mastered. So, when they encounter obstacles they just carry on because that’s what they expect.

2) Assume you have to be in the mood

Procrastinators often think, “I don’t feel like it, I’ll wait until I’m in the mood”. But with some tasks that are boring or too demanding you will never feel in the mood. Successful people will often put action before motivation. Once you get started and begin to feel a sense of accomplishment it spurs you on to do more.

3) Fear of failure

You may leave the task until the last minute and then say, “I didn’t have enough time to do it properly”. By doing so you give yourself an excuse and protect yourself from the reality that your best effort might not have been good enough. Alternatively, if you are something of a perfectionist, you may think “I do not want to start unless I can do it properly or perfectly-otherwise I will feel like a failure”.

4) Fear of rejection or intimacy

You may avoid inviting friends around, or making a telephone call, in case you get rejected. Alternatively you may not feel comfortable with the other person getting to know you. Procrastination helps you maintain a safe emotional distance, allowing you to avoid revealing yourself to others.

5) Fear of success

If you do it really well you may draw attention to yourself or create more work for yourself.

6) Getting back at somebody

You may be putting something off as a way of getting back at somebody. If you’re feeling bossed around or coerced into doing something, your procrastination may be an indirect way of expressing anger or rebelling.

7) Lack of commitment

You may simply not consider the task important enough to put in the effort. Alternatively, you may think “it’s an unpleasant task and I would prefer to do something else”.

Procrastination leads to an accumulation of stress and pressure. Try chunking as a way of eating in to your daily tasks. Instead of looking at the insurmountable amount of work that needs to be done, break the workload down into smaller manageable tasks. This way, the work ahead will seem less overwhelming and more manageable.

Watch out for the next post on this blog as it deals with ways to overcome procrastination.

Mandy X

12 Steps to manage time effectively

manage time\ photo

 

12 Steps to manage time effectively

Time is the most scarce and valuable resource we have. If we don’t manage our time well we can feel frustrated, unfulfilled and stressed out. When considering time management it is important for all of us to spend our time doing those things that we value.

1) Know your goals in life:

Identify the values, activities and goals that are most important in your life. Goals give you structure and direction in life. Goals can also be broken down into short-term and long-term goals. Make sure you have both.

2) Rank priorities:

The Italian economist Pareto gave his name to the Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule. 20% of your effort will bring 80% of your rewards. Pareto suggested we recognise and prioritise the 20%. Ask yourself, “How important is this to me?”

3) Plan and write it down:

There is a misconception that planning adds time to a task. Minutes spent in planning will be saved many times over. Use a calendar, diary and “to do” lists. When you are feeling listless make a list. A written plan gives us the ability to stand back and develop “helicopter vision”. Writing plans enhances perspective.

4) Delegate tasks:

One of the biggest causes of stress is the notion that we have to do everything by ourselves. Take a look at your schedule and decide what to be handed on to somebody else.

5) Work out a system:

A lack of structure makes unnecessary work, wastes time and creates frustration. Spend time organising your environment that you have a place for everything and have everything in its place. Establish a regular routine, carving out protected time for high priority activities.

6) Don’t procrastinate:

By putting off today’s tasks until tomorrow you are simply storing up work for yourself. Set yourself deadlines, use them to increase motivation and maybe add inbuilt rewards. It is okay to reward yourself for a job well done or for exercising discipline for an unwelcome task.

7) Leave free time in your timetable:

Never fill up your timetable completely. Always allow a little slack or leeway. Then something crops up, you are not overwhelmed.

8) Learn to say no:

If we cannot ‘turn off the tap’ of demands and requests from others we simply have no control over our lives. We will end up in the servant to the priorities of others, constantly deflected from what we really want to do.

9) One thing at a time:

We may have many things to do but we cannot do them all at the same time. Important tasks usually require alcohol concentration and focus. This is not to say that you cannot double up at times, by for example defining and watching television.

10) Identify prime-time:

Identify when you work best to plan a time for your most demanding tasks. For most people it is early in the morning, with performance tailing off by lunchtime. Similarly, allocate undemanding tasks to times when your energy levels may be low.

11) Overcome perfectionism:

If you have to get everything absolutely right you will find it difficult to vary your speeds according to priorities. The perfectionist often becomes bogged down in small details, missing out on the broader picture. Dare to be average!

12) Keep a balance:

Vary and contrast activities in different areas of your life, spending time in a balance between work, home, leisure, physical activity and mental activity. Plan natural breaks during the day, relax at weekends and take holidays.

Life is happening right now as we speak, it is finite – use it wisely!

 

Mandy X

Self esteem requires patience

 

self esteem and patience

Self esteem requires patience

We need both time and patience with ourselves to develop high self esteem. If we push ourselves too quickly we may find we end up going backwards instead of forwards. If we don’t allow ourselves room to grow we could end up stagnating rather than renewing and growing into our full potential. When we use time and patience effectively in our lives, we let the passage of time work for us, not against us.

Patience involves making changes at our own pace.Our rates of growth and change vary and we need to learn to grow within a time frame that fits our needs and prsonalities.

To learn patience, it is a good idea to use journals and other similar methods of recording our lives to assess our growth after a period of time, not only on a daily basis. Growth is best seen when reviewed after a few months, six months or even a year.

Patience allows us to heal as part of our growth. Healing involves our physical health as well as our emotional well being. Healing is threefold: mind, body and spirit. If we aren’t feeling emotionally well, our bodies will suffer. If our bodies are out of shape , our emotional outlook may be negatively affected. When we look after ourselves and learn to heal our bodies and minds, we’re in a much better position to ease some of the self defeating characteristics that have affected our levels of self esteem.

How to use healing

To heal effectively we must see ourselves as good people. We must fundamentally like ourselves. The best way to do this is to take time each day for one or two weeks to list at least 5 qualities that we like about ourselves, without repeating a quality from one day to the next. With this exercise, we’re forced to look deep inside ourselves as we think of 5 different qualities each day.

Some of us may need to take extra care of our appearance. This can include better grooming, paying more attention to our clothing or to our exercise regime and diet. We can only do it for ourselves – no one else can do it for us!

Another aid to effective healing is to use meditation instead of medication (where possible).Meditation involves quiet time when we can tune in to our inner wisdom and spiritual forces outside ourselves for guidance. It involves quieting the stresses and anxieties within us so we can let peace and serenity in. When we feel relaxed inside, we’re less likely to seek escape like alcohol and other drugs or compulsive addictive behaviours.

Take an honest look at your negative unhelpful habits and look out for dysfunctional patterns of behaviour. Learn new coping skills to replace these bad habits and take action toward positive change and healing.

Look at yourself in new more positive ways and give yourself time to be human and make mistakes. as long as you are working towards improving on a daily basis, you’re on the right track – cut yourself some slack.
Mandy X

 

Risking it in love

 

love

Risking it in love

If we don’t learn how to open up to others, it will be hard for us to improve our interactions with others and increase our levels of intimacy. If we don’t accept certain challenges that come our way, we may never discover our abilities. If we don’t risk being vulnerable, we won’t be able to grow. If we don’t go after what we want and manage our fear we will be destined to admiring what we want from afar. Life’s too short – take a risk!

But when we take risks, we open ourselves up to the possibility of becoming who we’d like to be. Through risk taking, fears can actually be managed and limitations can be worked through.

How to risk taking risks

Our risks should be worthwhile. We should set realistic goals and use risk taking to help attain those goals. We shouldn’t take risks just for the sake of it, but rather for the challenge and the prospect of self growth and development they offer us. Self esteem is raised through taking risks because even if the risk doesn’t work in our favour, we test our coping skills and realise we can get through difficult rather than avoiding them and never knowing what we are made of.

We may believe skydiving to be the ultimate in risks. But there’s no point in undertaking it if it won’t help us build and improve our self esteem. In taking risks we should do things that are appropriate for us and our growth. Think about risks you can take that will help you, not hinder you.

If you want to feel more confident, we should take risks that will make us proud of ourselves. Risks shouldn’t be taken for the praise we will get from others. External praise is useful in the short term but does little for us in the long term and won’t create lasting inner change. Ultimately, we don’t want to be dependent on others in order to feel good about ourselves.

A good example of risk taking:

If you are shy and anxious in social situations – accept an invitation that you would normally decline. It’s not the outcome of taking the risk that is important, it’s the effort you put in to effect the outcome. One purpose of risk is to open up to others.

If we don’t let others see us for who we truly are, it is harder to take risks. If we don’t share our inner feelings, good and bad, it is easier for us to disguise how we really feel. If we don’t let others see our human qualities – our successes and failures, it will be difficult for us to strive for anything less than perfection. If we don’t reveal ourselves to others it is harder for us to learn to trust.

How to open up to others

Accept yourself for who you are.Without honesty and self awareness, we run the risk of denying our feelings and can become out of touch with how we really think or feel, forfeiting closeness and caring from others as well as sacrificing self nurturing. Remember that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. They are entitled to their opinions but they are just that – opinions. They are not necessarily fact.

Another purpose of opening up to others is to learn about ourselves. As we become more visible to others we see ourselves more clearly.

Of course, choose who you decide to open up to selctively, don’t do it indiscriminately. Make wise choices by listening to your inner wisdom. A voice we all too often ignore in our pursuit of approval and popularity.

Risk being vulnerable, the rewards are far greater than if you hide yourself away.

Mandy X

 

Do you hold dysfunctional attitudes?

 

crazy

Do you hold dysfunctional attitudes?

It’s safe to say that we probably all hold some type of dysfunctional attitude at some time in our lives. Dysfunctional attitudes are also called “rules for living” by therapists and usually take the form of “if this…then that”.  Many of us hold rules for living that we don’t consciously acknowledge, yet these ‘rules’ impact upon what we do immensely.

  1. Dysfunctional attitudes lack flexibility

Dysfunctional attitudes are often rigid and generalised and involve concepts like “always, never, must, should, have to, need to…”.

2. Dysfunctional attitudes are self limiting

When you ‘buy into’ dysfunctional thinking, it becomes harder to reach your goals. For example: thinking along the lines of: “I believe that I must never fail so I withdraw and don’t try at all” will ultimately allow self limiting thoughts to override potential opportunities.

3. Often focused on approval

Dysfunctional attitudes often focus on approval from others, achievement or/and control. Many of the situations we cannot control in life lead us to developing dysfunctional attitudes when we would be far better off accepting the status quo. For example – we may have romantic feelings for someone and feel insecure about how they feel about us. Instead of dealing with the situation and asking the person directly, which takes bravery, we tell ourselves they don’t care and we pull away or we tell ourselves they do care and behave inappropriately.

4. Often related to various roles

Eg: I must be perfect, I must get it right every time, I must be loved, I must be accepted, I must gain respect.  Ask yourself WHY you “must”?? Who says? Where’s the rule book stating this? Challenge this type of attitude as it only serves to create personal pressure and stress. Replace must and should with “could”.

5. Dysfunctional attitudes are linked to self experience

Sometimes we have a rule for living such as: I feel bad if a rule is broken but good if successful. This rule for living ensures that our pleasure comes from an external source and this is a precarious way for us to feel good about ourselves. When we receive approval from others, it feels good and makes us feel successful but the best strategy to use is to find ways to feel good about yourself without approval from others. Approval from others should be a bonus, not a necessity. Dysfunctional attitudes begin to form when we are very young and become reinforced over time due to our childhood experiences and subsequent life experience.

6. They are linked to basic hopes in the future

Example: If I am loved then I will be happy; If I am successful then I will be worthy – a somebody rather than a nobody.

7. Often culturally reinforced

Example: We should be individualistic and achieve; women should always be loving and caring.

Further common examples of dysfunctional attitudes:

People will probably think less of me if I make a mistake (mind reading – there is no evidence for this thought)

If a person asks for help, it’s a sign of weakness (this is not a fact)

If other people know what you are really like they will think less of you. (there is no concrete evidence for this and no doubt there will be at least one example in your life of someone knowing you well who still loves and cares for you).

I cannot trust other people because they might be cruel to me (over generalised).

To be happy I must be admired, respected. I must show others that I am competent.

I must always try hard. I must avoid making mistakes and never be seen to fail.

I have to achieve things to maintain my sense of self worth.

To feel good about myself I have to have others’ admiring attention.

You are more likely to have dysfunctional attitudes if you have not received recognition from your parents, have been made to feel less than or not good enough in some way ( a common cause is from parents who offer conditional love to children – eg. only when they gt good grades at school, uni etc)

How to challenge dysfunctional attitudes:

Remember that thoughts aren’t facts – learn to challenge your thinking and look for the evidence.

Look for other ways to view a situation. What would a friend say?

Look at the advantages and disadvantages of possessing a dysfunctional attitude.

Work on loving and accepting yourself. You are worthy just being you, you don’t need to DO anything to be valuable.

Mandy X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why you must stop seeking approval

 

approval

 

Why you must stop seeking approval

Stop seeking approval as it is the quickest way to lose your identity and veer off the right path – the one that you are meant to be on. When we seek approval we suppress our true selves in order to fit in with other people’s accepted versions. In the process, we get out of practise in listening to our own inner wisdom and we instead tune in to what others want for us.

We are all born with a natural drive that continually motivates us towards achieving happiness, realising our potential and achieving love and acceptance from others. Our ability to get these needs met is developed during our childhoods and is a consequence of our relationship with others, mainly our care givers. As we grow, we gain a better understanding of who we are and how we fit in in the world.

When we are met mainly with approval, we develop positive beliefs about ourselves and base the decisions we make on these aspects that in turn make it more likely that we will find happiness and fulfillment.

When we are met with disapproval, we feel pressured to change who we are in order to meet our needs for love and acceptance. This causes a ‘false self’ to emerge – one that lives by the rules of others. We cease to behave in ways that are consistent with our inner worlds/who we truly are in order to avoid rejection, criticism and to gain approval. These are called “conditions of worth”. This strategy works initially but it means that our self worth becomes dependent on gaining the approval of others. This can be exhausting and can leave us feeling empty, directionless and disconnected as we move further away from our natural self. We begin to put the needs of others ahead of our own or worse, we forget what is best for us. Can you see how destructive seeking approval can become?

A conflict between needing approval and needing to be authentic makes effective decision making feel impossible and it undermines our confidence and our potential.

Get in the habit of approving of yourself – make it a habit. Tune in regularly to your inner thoughts and feelings. Are you living a life you want or one that has been created for you by the needs of others and/or your need to approval? Start looking at areas where you can regain your authentic power – whether that is in a job or a relationship. Start asserting yourself and asking for your needs to be met. It’s never too late to approve of yourself and live a life that you feel proud of. We all enjoy approval from others but never let it be at the expense of your self worth.

Mandy X

4 Ways to challenge negative thinking

 

negative thinking

negative thinking

4 Ways to challenge negative thinking

We all have constant inner dialogue running through our minds. We pay attention to some of it, but other thoughts are so automatic that we don’t even realise that we think them. They occur on an unconscious level and can affect the way we see ourselves and the world. Our inner dialogue affects what we feel we are capable of, what we feel is possible for us in our lives and can make a life successful or a complete failure. Yup – your thoughts really are that powerful so it is a very good idea to watch what you are telling yourself day after day and filter out the stuff that is no longer useful, valuable or working for you.

Inner dialogue is influenced by our upbringings and past experience and tends to be more negative in an effort to keep us safe. Thing is, we are far safer than our brains would have us believe. We no longer face the harsh reality of life outdoors, roaming the plains for food and avoiding predators as our ancestors did. Our brains however, interpret modern day stress in the same way as it used to – it sees a threat as a threat no matter whether is it a lion in front of us (our ancestors) or a pile of unpaid bills (modern day stress). The same parts of the brain are activated leading to defensive, anxious behaviour. Old messages from our parents or teachers etc may have become so automatic that we have taken on their opinions of us as fact and carry these ideas around with us, allowing them to define us when they don’t have to.

Learn to be more aware of your inner dialogue. You can learn to find alternatives to negative thoughts by asking yourself these questions:

  1. What are the facts?

What evidence do you have to support what you think? What evidence is there against it? The fact that you think something doesn’t make it true. Are there any small things you are ignoring as not very important?

2. What possible alternatives are there?

What would you think if you were more confident? Or what did you think at a time when you were more positive? How might someone else view the situation? What would you say to another person who was thinking in this sort of way? When you aren’t feeling this way. do you think about the situation differently?

3. What is the worst thing that could happen?

What is the best thing that could happen or the best way of seeing things? What is the most realistic or most likely to be right? If the thought is true, will it still matter in five years from now?

4. What errors are you making in your thinking?

Are you jumping to conclusions? Are you condemning yourself on the basis of one event? Are you concentrating on your weaknesses and forgetting your strengths? Are you thinking in all or nothing terms? Are you taking responsibility for something that is not your fault? Are you trying to mind read what others are thinking?

Use the above 4 questions to help you challenge your negative thinking. They are a great way to level out your thinking and add perspective. The more you do this, the more contented you will be!

Mandy X

Don’t despair

 

despair

Don’t despair

Life can certainly get on top of us all at times. I know I get days when I feel like nothing is going right and everything is awful. That’s normal and it’s a horrid place to be. The trick is to give yourself a time limit. Self pity and wallowing is fine, even necessary, but after 2-3 days it’s time to take hold of your wayward thoughts and focus on climbing back out of that depressed hole you have dug for yourself.

Yep, sometimes life sucks and it can truly feel as if you are completely alone in what you are going through but you can take solace in the fact that we all get those times. We are all just good at hiding it from each other. It’s okay to feel like you have had enough. Despite all my psychological training I have not found a way to prevent life from getting to me at times.

We can easily go off track and begin to focus on everything that isn’t working and give in to our insecurities. Remind yourself that it is just a frame of mind, not necessarily the reality. You may feel that you aren’t loved or that you are unimportant but more often than not, the reality is not that way at all. It is our thinking that needs adjusting.

Write a list of all the good things you have in your life. Write a list of all your good qualities – what do you like about yourself? These can be physical attributes or personality characteristics.

At times, it’s not about having what you want ‘its about wanting what you have. Focusing on what you don’t have or looking at your perceived lack is never going to help you to feel better. Do what will work – force yourself to think about what is going right for you, no matter how small and build on these small successes.

Also – force yourself to DO more. Even a small thing like walking the dog when you don’t feel like it or getting out of bed one hour earlier. DO it – be strong. Talk to the strong part of you and take back control. You are in control of your life, not your thoughts.  Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are wonderful..you are amazing…believe this at all costs. Mandy X

positive affirmations