Anxiety & Procrastination

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I am having this problem and it is not a regular well I will put it off another day, Procrastination problem. I seriously cannot get anything done if it is on my own time. I face anxiety and get to where I am afraid of failing and seeing what the outcome will be no matter what.

When I was a kid, I had to make straight “A’s” in school, my father was verbally abusive and I was so afraid of him, the thought to this day makes me cringe how he use to be. I always had to be perfect at everything and I was always doing whatever my parents asked because that is what made them happy. I always would wait to the last minute to do projects, papers anything at school and still to this day do the same in school( as well as in my marriage) I want to be a good person and I want to be able to be normal and have that drive to get things done, but I do not know what to do, I am so afraid sometimes and sometimes wish I had someone to tell me to do it, in order that I would feel that I had to get it done. I also have this really bad problem of watching T.V. if any show is on, no matter what it is, I zone out forget what I am doing and completely will give in to watching hours and hours of nothingness just so that I can “escape” in my opinion to another life- somewhere that I can just be a bystander and not live my own life. Letting others do it for me. TO me, I feel like I have no control over my life at points, that it is up to others, why is it I have this problem? Am I just lazy? Am I “needing to grow up”, I feel like that is not the answer. I feel like there is a deeper part of me that is afraid to do what I need to do, that if I do it, it will turn out wrong and that someone will be disappointed in me. I am in a dead-in job, which is something I have not wanted for a while, but the fact that I want another job is burning in me. I am pretty good at what I do because that is what is expected of me. The company and my boss would tell you that in a heartbeat, but I am being used in my job, since I am so good, I am always getting the short end of the stick. This is a problem, not only am I not able to get myself out of the house to get the job but that I am too afraid of what might happen in all other situations ( that are in my control) how can I get over this, if there a class, online class? Some type of internet group that can help me with my Over Anxious Procrastination problem. Is there anyway I can fix this on my own with certain steps? Please help me, it will not only help me, but my spouse and my family. Help me know how to do what I need to get done.

A. Laziness is not the problem. Nor is the “need to grow up.” This problem likely stems from your childhood experiences and interactions with your parents. You were raised to believe that you had to be perfect. This fear was instilled in you. The fear has stayed with you and it is degrading your life. It is clearly holding you back. It is keeping you from realizing your full potential.

Keep in mind is that you are no longer a child. You don’t have to impress your parents. You don’t have to answer to them or be “perfect.” No one is perfect. The standards that you felt compelled to meet were unrealistic. No one could have met those standards.

Understanding “why” you engage in certain behaviors is an interesting analytical exercise but it does little to assist you in correcting them. I would recommend psychotherapy. A psychotherapist could teach you more efficient behaviors. By your own admission, when it comes to almost every activity, you procrastinate. You may simply need to be taught a different way of doing things. Learning a new skill set could greatly assist you in breaking the cycle of procrastination.

Psychotherapy can also help you learn new ways of thinking. Both you and your therapist could analyze your thought patterns to determine psychologically what is holding you back. Fear and anxiety are the symptoms but what thoughts underlie those feelings? What keeps the fear and anxiety alive? The goal of this process is to determine how logical or illogical your thought patterns are and to correct them accordingly.

Analyzing and systematically correcting your behavior and thought patterns are the essence of cognitive behavioral therapy.

If you are not interested in psychotherapy, then you may want to read self-help books. M. Scott Peck’s book The Road Less Traveled discusses issues such as anxiety, procrastination and the fear of living. You may want to check Psych Central’s book reviews for other recommendations. Others find cognitive behavioral and other related therapeutic workbooks very beneficial.

In terms of finding support groups, I would encourage you to do a Google search for procrastination or anxiety support groups. Psych Central hosts anxiety forums that you may like. Check with the community mental health center or local psychotherapists to determine if anxiety support groups are available. I hope this helps. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 May 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Anxiety & Procrastination. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/05/13/anxiety-procrastination/