What do you think is the number one reason for procrastination? Studies and the latest brain research tell us SELF-IMAGE is the culprit! You might say, get out of here but et me explain.
John Assaraf, the founder and CEO of NeuroGym, explains this chain of cause and effect beautifully. He says when someone feels they are not smart enough, knowledgable enough, or not skilled enough, the stress system in their brain kicks in and the fear signal, or fight and flight mode gets activated. As a result, they respond by either escaping from or fighting with the situation.
Self-image is the self-esteem based on our past experiences. It is an image of our entire belief system about how we see ourselves, based on what is stored from the past in our subconscious mind.
Everything we do is based on our habits and our habits are reinforcing our comfort and safety zone. Whatever we become accustomed to doing, feeling, and thinking becomes the bubble that we live in, our comfort zone. And anything we do outside of of the bubble, in our brain is considered a potential risk or danger.
Every time our physical, financial or mental safety is at risk, the potential threat creates stress response in the Amygdala, in the brain, and the motivation diminishes and procrastination shows up. Procrastination is in fact your brain protecting you from the stress of unknown, uncertainty and risk.
What is the solution? Well, the first thing we should do is to think about the task at hand and ask ourselves if we have the skill and knowledge to deal with it. If not, we need to have an action plan to acquire the knowledge or skill.
We also need to stay aware of our emotions, fear and positive and negative energies. To overcome the negative emotions and feelings, the first thing we need to do is VISUALIZATION. Seeing ourselves in our mind achieving the task and getting the desired outcome, is a rehearsal and creates neuropaths to overcome the obstacle. We give our brain the instruction, the confidence and creativity it needs to proceed.
Visualization is the process of focusing on the joy of achieving the goal in advance, instead of activation of the fear circuit in the brain that causes procrastination.
John Assaraf gives us three great tips to get rid of procrastination in order to complete the task at hand. Here is what we need to do when we feel that we are avoiding to perform because we don’t want our identity to be challenged, don’t know how to do it well, or are scared of being judged or ridiculed: First, Stop and breath six times by keeping your breath for 5 seconds in and by exhaling by 5 seconds out.
This trick will deactivate the fear center in our brain that tries to keep us safe. Second, by visualizing ourselves overcoming the problem, seeing ourselves safe and achieving our goal, our self worth augments. Third, just take one step towards achieving what you need to do, however small. By doing that, the motivation part of the brain, the left pre-fronal cortex or genius part of the brain will light up.
What happens here is we start developing positive and new pattern in our brain, a pattern of seeing ourselves as doers, when we see ourselves doing something and taking action.
Using affirmations are also great to keep us in the left pre-frontal part of the brain, or the motivational part of the brain. We can say the following statement many times during the day: “Even though I procrastinate at times, I know how to take action and move forward.”
I hope next time procrastination approaches, your double edge sword of action/motivation splits this enemy in two pieces, in a blink of an eye 🙂