By: Faith Pearce
(5 min read)
In my last blog “Just Do It,” I touched on procrastination, and I want to dive into it a little further. I know when I am procrastinating, and it can be for many reasons. For the past few weeks I have been busy, I have been trying to adjust to a new schedule, but I have been avoiding breathing. You may say, what does breathing have to do with procrastination? “Faith, what are you going on about? You are still alive so you must be breathing.” Yes, but my procrastination can be exacerbated by not breathing correctly.
Have you ever noticed when you get tense you don’t breathe as deeply or almost hold your breath? Many say, “take a deep breath and count to 10” or “just breathe?” When we follow those recommendations, we most likely tune into our body and switch from shallow to deep breaths, and it allows us the time to recentre and refocus.
For the past few weeks, I have been aware I have not been able to relax easily, but I have avoided finding ways to reconnect with myself. This is where my procrastinating comes in. Am I even procrastinating about breathing? I find it fascinating. If I am having such a goddamn toddler moment, and this feels so overwhelming, and there’s so much resistance, I need to sit in it for a while.
My breathing practice – or lack thereof, is holding me up.
Overthinking is one of my most common threads. Having a desire to do things correctly is often the stem of the waffling or processing. This in turn triggers perfectionism syndrome and spirals internal conversations. How am I of value if I don’t know what I’m doing? If not done perfectly, I’m open to criticism. If done improperly, then I’m a failure.
When these conversations happen, I look for ways to challenge these thoughts. Many positive quotes resonate with me, a couple of my favorites are “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – Henry Ford and “Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.” – Mia Hamm
I agree, failure is just a learning opportunity.
Growing up I was always highly competitive. My mantra was “Good better best; never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best”. I constantly strived for that level of perfection. But unable to accept what I did was enough. There must be more I could do.
I remember going to a birthday party when I was six or seven. One of the party games was to read a section of a poem. There must’ve been around eight of us there, and we were given a section to read on a piece of paper. I still remember now thinking how can I do this differently? How can I do this to the best of my ability? Being ‘seen’ was important to me. Within five minutes, I memorized the words by heart, and recited it without looking at the paper. Everyone was really impressed. My winning prize was a large story book about mice and trees. I still have that book now.
Striving to satisfy the ‘I am not enough’ feelings, has followed me over the years. Where does this fit in with the whole procrastination game?
When you spend most of your time almost hiding the fact that you feel inadequate or you’ve been given a task that may potentially expose this insecurity, a self-protection mechanism kicks in. What follows suit is a whole host of other behaviors which are secondary to the initial thought. Distraction kicks in, and I become activated. Then I begin pushing people away. For me, this action is very similar to negative self-talk. Distraction and pushing others away create gain and purpose. Due to the fear generated by not feeling good enough or judged by others, I begin to feel safe again.
It looks like, unconsciously, I am pretty good at sabotaging myself. Yay, something I am good at. Over the years, I have become aware that pushing others away is a red flag for me and reinforces every single negative belief and thought pattern I possess. Most of the time, riding this out happens relatively quickly. If not, I have a support system in place where I’ve told people to look for this behavior and gently bring it to my attention.
This brings us to where I am today. Taking responsibility for my actions, in the moment, is a challenge. Giving myself credit for growth and new opportunities does not come easily. Perhaps getting a new job and being exposed to new people in addition to being more exposed over the last several months has set me up for my current situation.
— Choosing to focus on my health and wellness publicly was a huge risk. I hired a coach. I joined a gym. I quit smoking. I began focusing on my nutrition and sleep. I did those things.
— Choosing to be a Contributing Author in a soon-to-be launched book was a huge risk. I did that.
— Choosing to become a regular blogger and share my thoughts and ‘Brain Dumps’ was a big leap. I have continued to do that weekly for several months.
Just typing those things makes me feel uncomfortable and opens me up for judgment or opportunities for rejection. For many of you, maybe you can relate. We do not know how to give ourselves credit. We continue to push through to the next thing feeling like we aren’t quite there yet, and what we have done we could have done better.
Let’s get back to discussing procrastination and breathing. That was a trip wasn’t it?
When I’m feeling uncomfortable, maybe that is why I’m being a jackass to others or why I am once again, pushing people away. I’m not calling people back, being deliberately antagonistic, rude, and even late – which is not something I do! Ultimately all of these actions push people away.
At times, the fear of getting close to someone and being exposed which is often just my own insecurities, I have prevented or lost friendships. At a certain point, a level of fear kicks in and my self-talk actually tells me, “Do not become friends. This isn’t what I want from a friendship.” Those comments may not have any validity, yet those are my thoughts. Instead of being honest and admitting I feel vulnerable, fearful and scared. Simply admitting I’m not sure what I’m doing would be a start.
So, what does this have to do with breathing? Whoops I actually forgot about that. Am I procrastinating about talking about procrastinating again? One of the ways I disconnect my feelings and thoughts is I hold my breath and revert to more shallow breathing. Without recognizing this behavior at the time, I am holding myself in a place of tension and making the situation worse. In moments like these, focusing on breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system and sends a message to my mind that it is okay to relax.
My head feels like it is spinning now. No more procrastinating on my breathing! Just Do It. Breathe for a moment and slow down. Focus on my current needs. Perhaps I need a little self-compassion, grace and acceptance. And maybe take myself off the hook. This week’s challenge – I am going to breathe.
All Things Wellness, LLC
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