If you’ve been a procrastinator since childhood, it may have been made worse by overly-authoritarian parents or teachers. Procrastination can also be a type of avoidance behavior, where those who feel habitually feel powerless take back personal power in the only way known to them—procrastination on tasks they are ordered to do.
Along with avoidance-based procrastination unfortunately goes its offshoots—guilt and shame. We hear the voices of those authority figures telling us that we “blew it again”, “can’t be depended on”; even all-or-nothing statements like “you’re a complete failure” (usually accompanied by comparisons to a perfect sibling or neighborhood example)—long after we’ve grown up and supposedly left all childhood voices behind.
Guilt and shame have no place in working on becoming the person we were born to be. One good dose of shaming (especially from yourself) and you’re likely to revert to the one defense you’ve truly mastered—the mental equivalent of curling up in a fetal ball in a darkened room—procrastinate.
Learn to banish guilt by using cognitive reframing. Replace those excoriating self-lashes with phrases based in reality. For example, instead of saying to yourself, “I did it again. I’m a complete screw-up!” try stating just the facts. (“I spent an hour of `me’ time. Now it’s time to put that aside and go to work.”)
It feels much better when you take the blame-and-shame out of your procrastination habits, and focus on realistic solutions.