Feeling Bugged? Write Doctor Debug for "Psychological advice with punch!" (tm)
I think there are no Procrastinators Anonymous groups mostly because such dillydalliers and their friends generally don't take the problem seriously. Many Americans have what I call a "Popeye Complex." That "I-am-what-I-am" attitude seriously disables even believing in the concept of growth and change. By writing to me, you may be taking the first real step toward working on your stalling syndrome.
The short answer to your question is your girlfriend is probably correct about your conflict. However, there are many other possibilities. It isn't just laziness that gets in the way of us reaching our goals. As most therapists would say, "it goes much deeper than that."
The overindulged folks often have an "entitlement complex." Unless someone more powerful like a boss or a teacher comes along, these folks just don't feel that they have to do anything on anyone else's schedule. These are the "spoiled brat" procrastinators. What they do is just plain rude, but they don't care. In fact, they generally don't get that they even have a problem. Do you know any spoiled people who do?
The underindulged folks are those who were always being told what to do and when to do it, and never got much of a vote. Because they were so controlled or intimidated, as soon as they got the chance to do what they wanted to do, they went for it, big time. Even if what mom or dad told them to do is good for them now, they are not going to do it, no matter what. They may continue to rebel even when the rebelling process screws them up.
The most useful word for understanding procrastination is "stalling." By stalling, we can appease the demands of requirements or responsibilities while at the same time satisfying our inner reaction to rebel. By essentially saying to ourselves "in just a minute," we neither openly defy nor immediately obey. It is a classic self-defeating behavior pattern. Nothing gets accomplished quite like it could, when it could.
If you find yourself not celebrating the concept of resolution-making, you can bet it is for an emotionally-charged reason. Your programming is getting in the way. Before you can change, you have to believe in the process of change, which starts with a resolution. Recognizing our emotional response to the concept of resolutions should allow us to get past our rationalizations for dismissing the tradition.
Maybe New Year's is not a good time to be making resolutions if you are the rebellious type. Consider giving your resolutions more meaning by making them on or around your birthday -- a more personal day of renewal.
Most of you Jim Morrison fans are going to find this severely perverted, but one of the ways I keep myself on time and making those stepwise changes I want to make is by singing to myself -- "the time to hesitate is through, no time to wallow in the mire."
I guess that proves that even the wrong song with the right lyrics can work, if you let it. — Best wishes, Dr. Debug.
Ron Sterling, M.D. (Dr. Debug) is an award-winning psychiatrist in Seattle, Washington. He has been writing for newspapers and magazines since 1998 on subjects ranging from good manners to senior mental health. He hosts and maintains the well-known Internet mental health center, DearShrink.com. The Doctor Debug column is dedicated to assisting with the "debugging of malfunctioning elements in our own personal programming."
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