“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because, without courage no other virtue can be practiced consistently. Maya Angelou.
Everyone is prone to procrastination. It is related to the normal fear human beings experience, especially when faced with something they believe is uncomfortable, challenging or painful. Each day is a journey into the unknown. The unknown makes you feel uncertain, anxious and fearful. But because we are naturally curious, the unknown also makes us want to explore, discover and learn new things. Learning to face the fear of the unknown is the only way human beings can develop courage.
Unfortunately, courage cannot be order online and the more we back away or procrastinate around important decisions, the more the fear grows. Things unknown, unseen and uncertain will feed fear, but facing up to fear with courage will reduce it. One will never completely eliminate fear nor the way it manifests itself, disguised as procrastination. Whether it be fear of failure, fear of ridicule, embarrassment, rejection or the fear we may not be enough, procrastination is the mask fear hides behind.
However, we need to be tolerant of a certain amount of fear to survive. Fear is a kind of “threat-detection” system within our brains. It is a bit like the warning light that appears on our car’s dashboard to alert us that something may not be right and we should take action and check it out. There is no doubt that fear will motivate us, but too much fear will terrify and paralyse us. Fear has tendencies to be a bully and always wants to be in control. The important thing is to learn how to use fear, rather than allow fear to use us. Fear may hold us prisoner, but having the courage to act will set us free. “Do it Now!” is the mantra for courageous action and the antidote to procrastination.
Give yourself a mindfulness moment, sometime today, and try this brief visualisation exercise around something that has been causing you to procrastinate.
Sit down in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed and close your eyes.
Set the timer on your phone for 3 minutes.
Bring your awareness to your breathing.
Take a few, slow, deep, breaths.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Imagine you are breathing in energy and vitality.
. As you breathe out, let go of any anxiety or fear.
Now bring to mind the thing you are procrastinating on.
Notice any physical sensations or emotions that arise.
Without judging them, acknowledge the underlying fears.
Imagine feeling the fear for a moment.
Imaging taking a deep breath, in through your nose.
As you breathe out through your mouth.
Imagine expelling all anxiety and fear.
Imagine having the courage to just go ahead and bite the bullet.
Notice as you begin to do the thing you fear, that you’re completely fine.
You’re still alive!
Your world hasn’t fallen apart!
The fear may still be lurking, but you are standing firm!
Visualise progressing with the task and notice that you are pretty ok.
You may still be feeling some fear or discomfort, but it is not as bad as you imagined.
Imagine feeling the fear and taking decisive action.
Imagine pushing on and notice the fear receding.
Imagine feeling so strong because you had the courage to act.
Visualise praising yourself for being so courageous.
You faced up to fear, took a brave step forward and stopped procrastinating.
You are a hero!
You grasped the nettle and did the thing you had been avoiding.
Visualise the fear and discomfort draining away as you continue with the task.
You realise now there was nothing really to fear, apart from fear itself.
Notice how good it feels when you face up to fear.
Enjoy the feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Now, slowly bring your awareness back to your breath and rest in the present moment.
Take a moment before you open your eyes, stand up and stretch.
In the words of Susan Jeffers.
“Feel the fear and do it anyway!”
DO IT NOW!
BEYOND PERCEPTION’S REACH is a collection of brief thoughts and reflections on the complexities and challenges of life’s mysteries. The weekly blog will explore some of the questions and personal challenges we face in our uncertain and confusing world. How do we bring a bit more joy, purpose and fulfillment to our “one wild and precious lives”?
© Denis McBrinn 2021