by Dr. Bill Austin
One way of creating stress is by procrastination:
'Tomorrow! Later!' The stress comes from feeling
overwhelmed with so many loose ends and unfinished projects.
Most of us are familiar with the story of the Exodus recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The story involves the deliverance of the Hebrew people from bondage in Egypt. Before the slaves are freed, a series of plagues occurs as a contest between the God of the Hebrews and the gods of Egypt.
In the midst of the plagues, there is a fascinating incident that illustrates what is so typical of many of us when it comes to making changes in our lives. The incident happens during the plague of frogs. Frogs are everywhere. Pharaoh is up to his neck in frogs. Since he can't do anything about the frogs because of his religion, he calls for Moses and asks him to remove them. Moses tells him what he needs to do: free the slaves. Pharaoh responds: 'tomorrow.' Even when he could have immediate relief, he puts it off.
Isn't it amazing that, even when we are up to our eyeballs in frogs, we find ourselves putting off what we know we need to do to make our lives better? It is like we are struck at what I call the 'confession stage.' We lament and moan about how miserable the frogs are in our lives, but nothing ever changes. It is as if 'confessing' them excuses our inaction or takes care of our problems. So we become experts on our frogs!
In the previous article, we began a series on stress. One of the points was that we create much of our own stress. One way of creating stress is by procrastination: 'Tomorrow! Later!' The stress comes from feeling overwhelmed with so many loose ends and unfinished projects.
When we examine our daily activities, as procrastinators, we find that we do the tasks that we enjoy but put off the ones we do not like doing or ones we find difficult. If someone asks us if we have done the tasks we dislike, we often say, 'After I get this done.' Then, at the end of the day, we have all these unfinished tasks, and we can excuse ourselves by saying, 'I was so busy that I did not have time.' Perhaps underneath, we are hoping someone else will jump in and do it for us or it won't have to be done.
One of the unfinished tasks that most of us as procrastinators find difficult is writing letters. We get struck on the first sentence. It is as if the first sentence has to be perfect or it will be graded. Both writing letters and finishing projects have to do with avoiding the judgment of not being perfect.
In the upcoming articles, we will continue looking at the ways we bring stress upon ourselves. Then we will highlight specific and proven ways we can handle stress and procrastination.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700