Harness the Untapped Power of Procrastination

by Cheryl Brewster

Do you find yourself running into perfectionism? Those debilitating stopping places where no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to bust through? Me too.  Instead of fighting procrastination,  the tendency to keep putting things off that I find uncomfortable, I’ve come to see it as an early warning detection system that I can use productively. In fact, procrastination can be saying that “it’s time for another adventure.”

  1. Procrastination shows up when I’m challenging myself, so yay me! It’s the confirmation and encouragement to bust outside comfort zones and the natural fear of failure inherent in change
  2. It’s the psyche’s way of inviting more creatively and authentically, not bound by old rules of perfectionism. This targets more focus and depth and I’m better able to drop the habitual “negative memory bias” of the primal brain’s need to protect at all costs
  3. Procrastination can be alerting me to low energy which needs to be rectified; it forces me to stop and ask the question; if I’m not in flow right now, what will help me get there?
  4. Procrastination can be interpreted as intuition’s call to be more present. By taking a “Mindful Minute” to check-in, I’m acknowledging and centering myself into a more nurturing state of acceptance. I get to enjoy this moment rather than dread it;  I get to change my focus from limitation to the quantum field of infinite possibilities.
  5. Procrastination is s a sure sign that it’s time to exchange judgment and self-recrimination for gratitude and appreciation, otherwise life becomes all work and no play; always striving but never arriving, and that’s not fun at all. In fact, the blessing in procrastination in many ways, is the call to more empowered states.

The research on gratitude, kindness and appreciation is astonishing and the antidote to procrastination and perfectionism. 

Thoughts of kindness and gratitude take us out of survival mode and into thriving. At the University of Zurich, a study demonstrated that when you display kindness or compassion, a hormone called oxytocin shuts down the survival centers in the brain’s amygdala. Since the amygdala is wired for four basic emotions: fear/anxiety, sadness/pain, anger/aggression and love/joy, oxytocin “cools off” the brain circuits that are wired for survival, leaving a love and joy for life. From this state, we’ve got access to expanded states of consciousness that invite flow, creativity and solutions we can’t see when we are in survival mode.

Gratitude and appreciation return us to logic of clear thinking and the ability to master unhelpful and destructive emotions.  As Nassim Taleb, a scholar on uncertainty noted, “real strength lies in the control or the domestication of one’s emotions, not in pretending they don’t exist.”

So the next time you go into the “spin cycle” of procrastination with its inherent subtle and not so subtle feelings, habits, conscious and unconscious programs, remember… every challenge contains within it, the solution. Even procrastination therefore, serves a productive purpose and the sooner we leverage it, the better we feel, the deeper we go into the joy of creativity, authentic living and the fulfillment of creative desire and accomplishment.

Call to action: the next time procrastination or fear of failure comes up for you, consider using it as your early warning detection system, alerting you to self-kindness, appreciation and gratitude to birth something new. You’ll be glad you did.

If you enjoyed this article, let us know! Share your insights and experiences as you “harness the power of procrastination” to live more creatively and authentically, with better results and greater joy.

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