Is there a cycle or link between overthinking, procrastination and guilt?
Do you find yourself saying how much you have to do, and that you don’t have the time, BUT secretly know you CAN find the time but something is stopping you, and then the guilt kicks in!
‘I should have’, ‘I could have’, ‘I have wasted valuable time’, ‘why cant I just get stuff done?’ and ‘I’m not good enough!’ And the cycle continues, because then you feel even less like getting things done! – Who would after an internal bashing!?
So what could be happening?
Let us give you an insight here as therapists, and then we will end with 6 ways you can start to make a shift! Stay with us! We say that because it is often the very things that hit home with us that we may avoid! Find other things we need to do instead! Self Sabotage at its best!
Overthinking and procrastination – What’s the difference, or maybe its a chicken and egg scenario, they may come hand in hand, but which comes first!? Actually it doesn’t matter! It is what it is. Trying to work out what it is that’s happening, whether its you procrastinating or whether you are over thinking or analysing things, or maybe something completely different, trying so hard to find the answer and the why’s may then lead to more of the same! This is why we want to give you some quick steps to think about! Maybe now I am overthinking this!
If you are overthinking, and your mind is racing, then of course you will start to procrastinate. Your mind may be very overwhelmed, so it doesn’t want to do anything more as it may feel too much. When we are overthinking its like we are trying to predict the future (which we cant by the way!) and so the fear of the unknown or the uncertainty of what the outcome of any task may be, will also lead us to procrastinate. Another way we may end up procrastinating and overthinking in a cycle, is if our expectations are not realistic. We are all for people setting powerful and ambitious goals, but they have to be realistic – otherwise we may just be setting ourselves up to fail – if we sense that in ourselves, subconsciously we may avoid this failure by holding back – procrastinating!
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The therapy that we at Shift Happens trained in, (transactional analysis psychotherapy) works on the basis that we all have a Child Ego state. Without going into the details, as it may take a while, its a part of us where we may be more vulnerable, and where a lot of our overwhelming feelings may come from, so when we are overwhelmed, overthinking or procrastinating why do we then talk to ourselves in such a negative way!
Would you talk to a child that was overwhelmed the way you talk to yourself sometimes? Rather than seeing procrastination as you failing and wasting time, see it for what it might be, which is overwhelm, vulnerability and a gift that tells you to change something or make shift? Treat it with respect and nurture it, and you may find its not as persistent!
Before we give you the 6 ways to tackle this let us now explain where the guilt may come into it. We have talked about thinking but what about feeling? Thinking and feeling are equally important and go hand in hand, you may find you are more inclined to do one more than the other – in an ideal world, with a nice healthy self esteem, we could do with a consistent balance between the two. However, we all know that sometimes life happens and we revert to more of a survival mode – and the balance may tip.
We all have a ‘go to’ feeling that we access in certain situations (usually if stressed or overwhelmed) that is a very historical process for us, hence we do it on auto pilot and despite it not necessarily being a feeling that we relish, it may be comfortable and familiar, hence avoiding the uncertainty and unknown that we mentioned earlier. This feeling that we go to instantly may not be the authentic feeling but our ‘go to’ which may be covering something more deep rooted or underlying that we may be avoiding. Lets take guilt for example, so every time you overthink and then find yourself procrastinating and maybe even end up feeling stuck, you then go to feeling guilty. What if that guilt is not the authentic feeling but rather just a comfortable, familiar feeling to go to, a cycle that you are in?
Everybody has different feelings at any moment in time but if you don’t look beyond the layers then you won’t get to the root cause of these feelings and will therefore potentially unable to start to truly move on and get on!
If your feelings were in a box in layers and the guilt was at the top and then you took the layer of guilt away, what would you find underneath? Maybe fear? Maybe sadness or anger? It would be different for everyone but we just wanted to give you something to think about? If every time you are overwhelmed and go to the feeling of guilt as in this example, say in your box it was fear underneath the guilt, then the fear never gets a look in, therefore there’s no resolve and the cycle continues!
Ok, so let us collate this into 6 ways to shift your mindset, by which we really mean develop your self-awareness and leave yourself open to becoming unstuck and make shifts happen!
- Ride the waves, and treat your procrastination and overthinking with respect, talk to yourself in a way that would be nurturing, supportive and positive enough to say to a child.
- Rather than say ‘I should have done…’ try saying ‘I can if I choose to…’ And give yourself permission to choose to take care of yourself and reduce your overwhelm, instead of ‘doing’ at times.
- Remember your WHY. This links into also checking in with yourself if you are barking up the right tree! WHY do you need to do certain things? Make sure there is something in it for you and that you keep yourself a priority in everything you do.
- Ask yourself ‘If I wasn’t feeling this (remember the box of feelings) what would I be feeling instead? You can use this principle for doing to, ‘If I wasn’t procrastinating what would I be doing instead? If it doesn’t make your face light up then check in with point 3 and see if there is anything you can change?
- THOUGHTS are different to FACTS and we need to treat them as such! If you find yourself internally validating your thoughts as though they were facts rather than stories then change that dialogue and separate yourself out from them! Instead of saying ‘I must do everything’ you could say ‘I notice I am telling myself that I have to do everything’ so distance yourself more from the thoughts they are not facts!
- Consider all elements of your whole self as equally important for your self-esteem, which affects your ability to succeed in all areas of your life – balance – thinking & feeling! And REMEMBER – We ALL overthink at times, We ALL procrastinate and feel like we have wasted time, We ALL need taking care of, We ALL have feelings and thoughts, There is only ONE of you! Treat every part of YOU with the respect YOU deserve! Consider all elements of your whole self as equally important for your self-esteem, which affects your ability to succeed in all areas of your life – balance – thinking & feeling!