Nearly one in five of us are chronic procrastinators. Could hypnotherapy be the answer to help us stop idling, and get more proactive for good?
Procrastination. Who hasn’t been guilty of putting things off until the last minute? We all procrastinate from time to time, but why is that? Is it really due to laziness? And what could we be doing to instil healthier habits around all those little tasks we inevitably put off?
Why do we procrastinate?
The reasons behind why we procrastinate can vary significantly from person to person. Perhaps you always leave the laundry until the very last moment – the thought of all that folding and finding space to put everything away is your worst nightmare. Maybe you avoid sending in your expenses to work as the system feels overly complex, or it’s frustrating to find every single receipt so you put it off until the last minute.
Procrastination can often be confused with laziness or poor time management. However, procrastination is, by definition, an active process: you intentionally avoid a task, often doing other, smaller tasks while avoiding the one thing you just don’t want to do. When we procrastinate, we aren’t just putting something off, we’re doing so while knowing it’s against our better judgement (and often, that it will potentially cause us more problems further down the line).
One expert, Dr Fuschia Sirois, professor of psychology at University of Sheffield, said procrastination is “essentially irrational” in an interview with The New York Times. We know that it doesn’t make sense to do something that will cause us to experience negative consequences, and yet, by continuing to engage in a cycle of chronic procrastination, we know that we will experience more stress, anxiety, loss of sleep, and increased feelings of pressure. These, in turn, often create an outcome that is rushed, incomplete, past the deadline, or that may need to be redone entirely.
A 2013 study found that procrastination is, essentially, caused by our inability to self-regulate our negative thoughts or feelings around a task. These negative impressions can become attached to the idea of completing the task, leading to procrastination in the form of avoidance (‘I’ll do that later’), self-doubt (‘I’m not smart enough for this’), or even undertaking other tasks (‘I’ll just clean my desk before starting that report’).
Feelings of anxiety, resentment, boredom, frustration, and self-doubt can all lead to increased levels of stress, anxiety, self-blame, and lower self-esteem. Over time, avoiding a certain task can lead to these negative connotations growing, which can make even thinking about some of them feel stressful and overwhelming. In turn, this can lead us to avoid the tasks all over again, creating a cycle of chronic procrastination.
How can hypnotherapy help?
If you think you’re ready to take that next step in trying to overcome procrastination, it’s important to ask yourself: am I ready to change? Without the desire to change and improve, old bad habits are bound to return. Once you are open to change, working with a hypnotherapist can equip you with the tools needed to overcome procrastination for good with the following four steps...
1. Identify the causes of your procrastination
Studies have shown that up to a whopping 88% of us procrastinate for at least one hour each day. While the most common causes have been found to be distraction, feeling overwhelmed, and being unsure of where to start, other common reasons can include:
- Feelings of anxiety and a fear of failure
- Poor organisation or time management
- Low motivation or trouble focusing
- Unrealistic goals, expectations, or high levels of perfectionism
- Past negative experiences
By talking through how you approach tasks that you find lead to procrastination, as well as how they make you feel when you think about or try to work on them, your hypnotherapist can help you to uncover the causes of your discomfort – as well as label how that is making you feel. Knowing how a task makes you feel is often the first step towards better understanding it, finding new ways to tackle these feelings, and discovering how you can handle them in the future.
2. Change your perspective, outlook, and behaviours
Hypnotherapy can help to change the way you see the world, consider new perspectives, as well as support you to cultivate a more positive outlook. Working together with a hypnotherapist, you can discover how to reframe situations or tasks which are causing you to feel anxious, unmotivated, or at a loss for where to begin.
Through examining the feelings that are leading to procrastination, recognising negative associations that may have formed, and learning how to reframe things with the help of your hypnotherapist, you can discover new ways of tackling tasks head-on (without the need for procrastination).
3. Ditch negative self-talk and focus on your strengths
We’ve all heard of affirmations – where you repeat a phrase, to help give yourself a boost of encouragement, support, or self-belief. Affirmations reinforce an idea or a concept. But, sometimes, we can unknowingly repeat negative thoughts, phrases, or beliefs, which can create a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. If you keep telling yourself ‘I can’t do this,’ you have a worse chance of completing your task on time.
A hypnotherapist can work with your unconscious mind to uncover negative thoughts and feelings that you may not even be aware of. By putting you in a hypnotic state (AKA deep relaxation), a hypnotherapist can use suggestions to help you to replace these negative thoughts with positive ones. They may also introduce you to self-hypnosis, to help support ideas or suggestions made during sessions, to help reinforce these new, positive thoughts, ideas, and self-beliefs in your daily life.
4. Help you create new, sustainable habits
Hypnotherapy can help to reduce feelings of anxiety, low self-confidence, low self-esteem, and stress, while promoting healthier sleep patterns and relaxation techniques for an overall increased sense of wellbeing.
While it’s important to remember that hypnotherapy isn’t a magic wand (some people may see improvements straight away, others can take multiple sessions), many find that hypnosis can help them to change unwanted behaviours, automatic thoughts or reactions. When working with a qualified, experienced, professional hypnotherapist, they can help highlight and identify harmful thoughts and behaviours, introduce new, healthier ways of coping, and help reinforce positive, sustainable habits to help you move forward to the type of behaviour you want to exhibit
To find out more about hypnotherapy for procrastination, visit the Hypnotherapy Directory.