Defeating Procrastination (Why Forcing Yourself to Get Up Is Never Enough)
I’m a couch girl.
It’s true; I admit it. I love to lie back on the couch and do nothing. Maybe a movie. Maybe my phone. I love to be unengaged. Once I’m settled in, I have a hard time getting up, even for the simplest of things like getting a glass of water.
This procrastination follows me into other areas of my life as well. I put off scheduling that dental appointment. When I should put in the time to proofread an email, I click send and pray it turns out okay.
I want to engage in the bare minimum.
For years, I thought the solution to this was to drag myself by the hair. Kicking and screaming, I’d be the mean parent that forced me to do it anyway. I’d gripe at myself. Mutter self abuse. “Why can’t you do anything right? Just get up. It’s not hard. Just get up!”
I thought the solution to my love of lying on the couch was to become disciplined enough to get off the couch.
Like a lot of people, I’d made the mistake of assuming that procrastination is laziness.
It wasn’t until I went online to finally schedule my dental appointment that another possibility began to take shape. I found myself… scared. Anxious, like a kid who can’t bear to go see the doctor.
What if I wasn’t lazy? What if it was something else?
I began to take note of my emotions whenever procrastination struck. More and more, I noticed a sense of being overwhelmed. This feeling of “too much” made me want to push the task further and further away. I finally realized what was really going on: my procrastination was ultimately a form of self-harm, starting as fear.
When I saw a difficult task ahead of me, my psyche panicked and thought, I can’t do that. Like a ten-year-old being told she must pick up a boulder, my psyche imagined only failure, devastation — all my bones being crushed.
In an effort to put off this doom, I procrastinate. I send the task to a different mental pocket; I tell myself it doesn’t need to happen just yet.
I procrastinate because at my core I believe I am not big enough to cope with my own life.
Once I began to see procrastination as a misled attempt at self-preservation, I began to be kinder to myself. I realized I should have asked myself an honest question a long time ago.
“Do you seriously think you’re so lazy that you can’t get up to get a glass of water?”
When asked point blank, it’s a ridiculous query. I’m a grown woman with a host of accomplishments, not a slug. When the question shifts however, the answer changes.
“Are you so afraid of your own life that — sometimes — you feel paralyzed?”
C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, “When a neurotic who has a pathological horror of cats forces himself to pick up a cat for some good reason, it is quite possible that in God’s eyes he has shown more courage than a healthy man may have shown in winning the V.C.”
Getting up to get that glass of water is a victory. My fear of my life is irrational, misplaced, and rooted in my trauma. My ability to overcome that fear, however, is miraculous.
I used to shame myself for having such a hard time getting up. Now I know that each action is a feat of courage, proof of a better life ahead. It isn’t enough to force myself up off the couch. Instead, I’ve taken to reassuring myself.
“You are big enough. You can do this. Your life is not going to crush you; you are in control.”
In reaching down this hand to myself, I’ve become the kind parent instead. Developing trust for myself is hard work, but so far — getting up to get that glass of water has never done me wrong.