I’ve written (and talk) about procrastination — a lot. After all, I am the Queen of Procrastination. I don’t ever seem to get anything done (housework, writing projects, this blog) without a real deadline.
Not buying it? Well, here’s a classic: I literally just finished writing staff profiles for a new website I’m writing for a client — and it’s only because I set a meeting with the client on Friday (thereby ending both of our procrastinations) that I wrote them from the interviews I did TWO MONTHS AGO!
Up until a few weeks ago, I would have called my procrastinating a form of self-sabotage. But, kinder, gentler, and newly eye-opened me now gets that procrastination is really a form of fear. My business coach wrote a whole blog about why she abhors the word self-sabotage, and why she calls it self-protection (I’m also pretty sure I’m the inspiration for this blog ;-).
Yes, I like self-protection much better than self-sabotage. It’s much kinder, gentler, loving — and not at all about shaming.
PROCRASTINATION IS ALL ABOUT FEAR
At its root, procrastination is about fear, but what type of fear? In my case, and in my belief it’s about the fear of failure — which is really fear of success in wolf’s clothing. Yes, I suppose that being afraid to fail is a very real thing, but mostly because we’re afraid of the unknown commodity of success. Erin Hanson’s beautiful words seem especially fitting here:
“But what if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”
“There is freedom waiting for you on the breezes of the sky.”
As women especially, we are taught NOT to have big, bold, luscious dreams. I can’t tell you how many times I was taken down a rung or two on the ladder of my life for having them. I distinctly remember my mother once answering me (I was about six and wanting her attention) when I asked her if I was pretty: “Kathy, people don’t like people who brag.” The shame I felt in hearing those words was overwhelming. It wasn’t bragging, it was a little girl trying to get her mother’s attention after losing it to her little sister. She wanted reassurance that she was loved, and sadly, believed she was loved because people said she was pretty.
So, we learned to play small. But we are not small. We are as big and as bold and as expansive as the universe. We are only limited by our fears — and playing small...
We choose bravery over fear every day. For some, getting out of bed is an act of bravery. When I sat down this morning to do my word of the day journaling practice (something new I’m working on for you!), my word was “twirling.”
As a little girly girl, I loved dresses with crinolines the best because I loved to twirl. I felt like a ballerina.
And when my mother died and I started dreaming of the desert, I was whirling and twirling until my clothes fell away and I floated up, spinning into the vastness of the starry midnight blue sky, and the stars clothed me in a gossamer gown of twinkling lights.
Today I was whirling and twirling too, but not in a happy way. I felt like I was spinning out of control like a dreidl about to fall off the table. Every coaching session challenges me and brings up stuff that I am called to face.
CHOOSE TO FLY
But, instead of allowing myself to fall, I chose to fly — by writing to Fear and reminding her of all the times that not moving forward made me feel worse than failing spectacularly ever did. Then I realized that I bravely chose not to listen to her and I proved to her that I was right, SO MANY TIMES:
- Being the one to end all the love relationships that were not making me feel good about myself and eventually finding the love of my life.
- Trying again at the next border crossing when I got refused the first time (and using the thinly veiled advice of the then-friendly US Border Guard on how to get the green light).
- Taking the risk with $50 in my pocket and a gas card to drive 1500 kilometres from Edmonton to Yellowknife into the unknown (and beautiful new life).
- Telling the said love of my life that I loved him, even though we were friends for 5 years and he thought I had no interest in him romantically.
- Becoming a freelance promotions writer in New Brunswick (the land of no work).
- Taking the leap and following my true desire by coming out as a storyhealer so that I may help others to heal their stories through journal writing.
I bet if you were to take the time to do your own list, writing down each very scary decision you’ve made when Fear was trying to shut down your desires, you will find startling acts of bravery littered amongst the times Fear won.
I’d love to cheer you on and become your biggest fan in my “Let’s Talk About Fear” facebook page…
I've come to accept that I will always procrastinate in some form or other; Fear is always trying to talk me out of something. But I expect, if I take the time to shed some light, I will realize it’s Fear talking, and not reality. And when it's something that I deeply desire to do, I will always — firmly, but gently — tell Fear that I am following the path I know in my heart and soul to be the path to attaining my desires.
kathy mercure is a storyhealer, storylistener, and writer. Her life’s work is to gently draw stories from her students and help them unblock their writing, find their voice, and heal their lives. Her passion is to support women and men in realizing their true identity as a valued human being, claiming their passions, and speaking their truth as they become their most authentic selves. (Photo by EagleSpirit Soul Shots)