Anxiety and procrastination - Which comes first?
Does anxiety cause procrastination behaviour or is it the act of procrastinating that brings about anxiety?
Procrastination, the action of delaying or postponing something is essentially the avoidance of action because a part of you believes that carrying out the act will cause some sort of pain or negative result. This negative belief can be a subconscious thought but it is nevertheless a protection mechanism to keep you safe from your perceived fear. Every procrastination tactic comes about as the part of our mind responsible for survival (the primitive emotional brain) perceives some sort of threat and so that part of the mind steps in to protect us.
Procrastination can be a common problem if you suffer from anxiety or tend to be a chronic worrier. All those 'what if' thoughts or negative beliefs about the end results can keep you from accomplishing your goals or completing certain responsibilities. For example, you may avoid applying for a particular job because you perceive rejection as failure. Or perhaps you put off talking to your doctor about a certain issue because you are nervous about the outcome.
Anxiety and worry does cause us to procrastinate. However, the more we put things off the more anxious we begin to feel about it. Let's say, for instance, you put off having what you perceive to be a difficult conversation with a friend or work colleague because you are worried about their response and have forecast a negative result. During the time that you are avoiding this action your mind continues to ruminate over the outcome and the longer you delay the more your imagination takes hold. If we don't know something for certain our mind will make it up and then believe this to be true. This prolonged negative forecasting creates anxiety.
Anxiety and procrastination are very much interlinked, one brings about the other. The common underlying link is the negative beliefs we hold in our mind.
If you are struggling with anxiety or need some help to accomplish your goals you may find it helpful to see a hypnotherapist. Hypnotherapy helps you to change your way of thinking, allowing you to regain control of your mind and make the changes in your life necessary to stop creating anxiety.
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About Carolyn Spiller
Carolyn Spiller is a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist, specialising in helping clients with anxiety, self-esteem and confidence. She practises in South Wales, in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.