Why do we procrastinate in taking care of ourselves? Watching 5 episodes in a row of the last Netflix series or sitting down in meditation without distraction for 20 minutes before going to bed? Beginning the day by checking immediately our phone or taking the time to slowly wake up in silence, move & breathe through our Yoga Practice?To be or not to be.
Recently I stumbled upon Tim Urban’s hilarious and famous Ted talk about how the mind of a procrastinator works. He shares his story about his approach to his PHD thesis during his time in college: he kept postponing his work for almost one year, ending up writing his 90 pages senior thesis in only 3 days.
Tim Urban explains with humor how we daily enter in a conflict between our monkey mind, always looking for instant gratification (hello dopamine :) and the rational part that is able to have a bigger picture and ready to put the hard work . Instant gratification is the desire to experience pleasure or fulfilment without delay or deferment: our environment is filled with instant gratifications opportunities : social media, the news, Youtube, Netflix and so on. Believe me, I am writing this because sometimes it takes me all the effort inside my heart to put my phone down and get out of the spiral of addiction. It also doesn’t mean that we need to become saint or very strict with our schedule and leisure time, because sometimes, as Tim Urban says, the monkey mind and the rational find common ground and agree to have fun, distract ourselves and enjoying time off.
2 types of Procrastination
At the end of his Talk, Tim Urban shares that, to his understanding, there are two types of procrastination: the one with a deadline, the ones without a deadline. Let’s see what he meant and how it’s connected to Yoga or anything good for our wellbeing.
1.Procrastination with a deadline
Our monkey mind, which always looks for instant gratification and short time pleasure, fears only one thing: the panic monster. The Panic Monster is dormant for the most of the time, quite asleep if he doesn’t see any danger around. But suddenly he wakes up when the deadline, that we keep posting and pushing away, is coming closer. We freak out, because we know we have less time now, but the same amount of work. Somehow, maybe pushing the deadline a bit further, we will get things done and finish a project. In other words, we need our stress response, adrenaline, mixed with a very well known anxiety and panic to get things done. Does it sound familiar? :)
2. Procrastination without a deadline
But what happens when we don’t have a deadline to follow and to respect? In these cases, our Panic Monster is always dormant and sleepy, as he doesn’t see any danger close to him (deadline). Without a “danger” our stress response doesn’t get activated and we enter in what we can see as a freeze state: “I will think about it tomorrow”. Unfortunately most of the time, procrastination without deadlines is connected to something very valuable in the long term but that requires action: taking good care of our health, start to practice Yoga, work on our relationship, get out if it doesn’t work, start to eat a bit more healthy, stop smoking.
Taking care of ourselves doesn’t have a deadline
Nobody will knock at your door to ask you to start working on your relationship, get out if it doesn’t work or to start to take care of yourself and your wellbeing. Only you can make this decision today, and only you can choose to take action.
The same approach can be applied to our Yoga Practice as a form of Self-Inquiry and Self-Care Method. In order to create and sustain Balance in the long term, we can’t start to take actions only when we feel chronic stress or burn-out. It needs to happen way before that: our Yoga Practice can be seen and used as a way to prevent stressful situations. Through our constant Practice, we learn how to manage, respect and protect ourselves, our energy and our needs. To have a regular and nourishing Yoga Practice though, we need to step on the mat also when we don’t feel like it, we feel miserable or we think we don’t have enough time: anytime you do that, you are investing in yourself in the long term.
As Tim Urban says, “this type of procrastination can be the source of long-term unhappiness and regrets” (..) becoming the spectator of our own life”
Write down what you are procrastinating
I invite you to take your journal, lit up a candle, close your eyes and ask yourself two questions:
1. Am I procrastinating taking a good care of myself?
2.What is holding me back? Fear, Shame, Judgment of others, Perfectionism?
3. What do I need to do to see a shift?
Take an honest look at what came up, and start to put in action what you are postponing today. Let it be confusing, messy, uncertain and unique. Let it be scary, let it be joyful, enjoy your next step and your commitment to yourself.
If what you are procrastinating is your Yoga Practice, I created free resources to start with, today: https://corpogiardino.ch/freebies/
Let me know how it goes & watch the full Tim Urban’s Ted Talk
Photo by Daniel Mingook Kim on Unsplash