Do It Now!!!
I've spent over a year on this article. Really... :-)
Using hypnosis to overcome procrastination
Or perhaps I would be more accurate in saying that I spent a couple of hours writing it, and a year or more putting it off. It always makes me smile when remember that the article is about procrastination.
I started writing this article about a year and a half ago. Then, for reasons I didn't understand at that time, I hit a wall of writers' block. So, I put it on the shelf (or more literally, saved it to disk then turned off the computer) in hopes that I would be more inspired later. Every so often, I would think of it again. And whenever I did, the same sense of writers' block came back. So again, I put it off - and put it off. Eventually, I conveniently forgot about it and there the article sat until this last week. Now, as I opened up the article to start writing once more, I began to feel the same impulses.
in my observation, almost everybody encounters this problem at some point in their lives. There are some things we just don't feel like doing right now. We're not motivated to do them now, so we set them aside. We can always deal with them later, when we have more energy and enthusiasm, when we're more alert, more energetic, etc... The list of excuses goes on and so does the clock - time passes and the task remains unfinished.
A lot of clients walk into my office with the same problem. There is something they need to do - sales calls, balancing their books, writing, you name it. And for them the task is unpleasant. The motivation isn't there. It is so much easier to simply put off that sales call until tomorrow. And yet, that sales call is what pays the bills. For the small, independent businessperson, procrastination can mean starvation.
So why do we put things off? What goes on inside the mind during things like procrastination? Why do we put off things we know we should do? What makes us motivated one day, but on some other day - maybe even days, or even years at a stretch - it is nearly impossible to get going? What is the mechanism within the inner mind that allows, or even causes this behavior?
In the years I have been doing hypnotherapy with clients, I have found that at its core, procrastination seems to be based upon fear. There is something about that term paper, those taxes, that sales call - somehow they feel like pain. And sometimes worse than pain, itself, can be the fear of pain. The human brain is hardwired to avoid pain, and to seek survival and pleasure. Thus, when we look at that project due next month, it is very easy to avoid the fear and pain, at least for now. We can just put that task back on the shelf. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.
A few months ago, a sales executive I will call "Jerry" came into my studio. He had always been the consummate entrepreneur, driven and self-motivated. He would have been at the top of just about anybody's "most likely to succeed" list. And yet for some reason, his ambition hit the skids. He just could not get himself to pick up the phone and call that next customer, so he put it off - he could always do that tomorrow, anyhow.
Another client, a graduate student I will call "Mandy" who had always been very motivated and had never put things off, suddenly found herself unable to function. She allowed bills and assignments to slip. She ignored, and then forgot about deadlines. In both their cases, the putting-it-off behavior had continued to get worse, until now it was threatening their work, their careers, their lives and well-being. What was preventing Jerry and Mandy, two otherwise-motivated people, from taking the steps they knew are necessary?
Both clients described how they felt some kind of internal division. Part of them wanted to get the job done. Yet somehow, somewhere within their minds, another part had arisen - one associated the task with fear and pain.
In each case, some other factor had contributed to a sudden awakening of this negative affect. And as a result, this part now associated the task with a danger, pain or other unpleasantness. Thus, this "put-it-off" part saw as its duty, to protect the greater person by avoiding the unpleasant experience. it learned its lesson well and now it could protect the whole person from pain, simply by putting the source of that pain off until later. Now Jerry and Mandy were happy, at least for the moment - with one exception. The important work was never getting done.
The question thus became, how can Jerry accomplish his work, while "protecting him from the pain" of his sales calls. Perhaps the biggest clue was that this conflict had not existed until recently. In the past, Jerry had been able to make sales calls with ease. Clearly, something had changed.
With Jerry in deep hypnotic trance, this internal conflict became apparent. Some recent stresses in his personal life had awakened long-dormant fears and issues with his self-image. Using deep subconscious healing techniques, and with me as asking key questions at the right moment, Jerry was suddenly able to remember the time in his early childhood when he had first acquired the fear. It was an embarrassing moment, one he had long ago put out of his mind. Yet something in the present day life reminded him of those same circumstances.
With this knowledge, the deep child-like part of his mind was able to feel secure, knowing that danger was past. In the present, Jerry was safe. The part of his mind that had previously been resistant now felt at home. Some additional reassurances from the motivating part - the part of Jerry that got him to come into my office in the first place - allowed that sense of security to deepen.
A few additional hypnotic suggestions helped to ensure his mind could apply this insight and assurances directly to his need to make business calls. Following that, we now looked ahead using his imagination, to the next time he needed to make a call. But this time, instead of fear he could feel the confidence, the assurance we had just discovered, and the anticipation of a new sale or other business relationship. Now, in his mind, the calls he used to fear had become opportunities for new business, etc.
Similarly, opposing motivations within Mandy's mind were creating her problems engaging in the vital work she needed to accomplish for school. Just as with Jerry, we found that recent circumstances in her life had reawakened some old childhood fears. The part of her mind that housed that group of memories was protecting her from them, just as Jerry's had.
Fortunately, Mandy was a life-long meditator. So like Jerry, Mandy was very proficient at going into the hypnotic state. With Mandy in deep hypnosis, we were once again able to return to this early time and find the source of the fears and limiting beliefs. Once he had touched this (again, long-forgotten) set of memories, the adult self could view then, provide insight and assurances.
in both cases, once the child-like inner subconscious was assured that everything would be okay, and once we brought the adult wisdom to the childhood memories, the fears vanished - nearly instantly. Now, Mary is progressing nicely in grad school, while Jerry's business is thriving, growing at a steady rate.
Each day, as I see new clients, the most frequent complaints I hear are in reference to these inner blocks. Using deep hypnotic trancework we can examine the source of the underlying issues, bringing reassurances to calm the long-dormant fears. With suggestion work, NLP and guided imagery, the person can then see their own path to success, free of the endless delays of procrastination and fear. and many similar Hypnotherapy tools,
Finally, we can get around to the job of healing, putting procrastination behind us - replacing it with motivation and success thinking. Whatever it is that you are putting off - perhaps for the millionth time - perhaps you can now see yourself achieving your goal, moving past the difficulty and succeeding in ways you earlier, might have never thought possible. All because you finally faced the challenges - looked them in the eye, and took action today!