lesson 3
The Procrastinator's Paradox & Self Forgiveness
lesson 4
In-the-Moment Procrastination Fix
lesson 5
How to Use Your Time More Effectively

The Procrastinator’s Paradox & Self Forgiveness

Most attempts at overcoming procrastination fail. They fail because they do not address the root causes of procrastination.

That's what we're doing differently, right here in this course.

As you now know, at the root of procrastination, there is always pain avoidance. To be able to resolve this emotional pain and overcome procrastination behavior, we must understand something that seems contradictory:

The Procrastinator's Paradox

Research shows that procrastinators do 2 things that are almost diametrically opposed to each other. And we need to resolve them both, to move to more positive behavior.

The first thing is what's called a "downward counterfactual" and it really amounts to this: chronic procrastinators tend to downplay the consequences of their behavior. Even if procrastination leads to a clear, negative outcome, they'll say something like "well, it could have been worse!"

In other words, they are not confronting the true consequences of their procrastination. They remain in denial, to some extent.

But here's the other side of the paradox: procrastinators also feel bad about their procrastinating behavior. They see it as a character flaw, they may feel shame and guilt about it. They beat themselves up about it.

And that's not helpful either!

The Brutal Facts & Self-Forgiveness

To resolve these two sides of emotional pain around procrastination, you need to do 2 things:

  1. Confront the brutal facts.
  2. Forgive yourself.

The first, we've already done. That was the exercise in the previous lesson. Note how in that exercise, you laid out clearly the negative consequences of procrastination, but without being judgemental or overly dramatic about it. This is what it means to take an unflinching look at the brutal facts of reality.

Now, the next step is self-forgiveness. Research shows that people who forgive themselves for past instances of procrastination are less likely to procrastinate again in the future.

That's what today's exercise is about. It's a simple self-forgiveness exercise, in writing.

Self Forgiveness Exercise

Answer the following prompts in writing:

  • "I forgive myself for [specific instance]." - think about a time when you procrastinated, that you feel bad about. Write about that and forgive yourself for it.
  • Self compassion: consider that you are not alone in struggling with procrastination. Describe your struggle with this, as if from an outside perspective and describe it in a compassionate, loving way.