Slaying the Dragon of Procrastination

Written by Janine Canaday, LPC, LCPC

It’s Thursday, you have a project that is due tomorrow and you have not even started to think about how you will complete it. Time is ticking away. Minute by minute, hour by hour. You know that you need to work on it, but cannot seem to get yourself started. This seems to be a familiar feeling that happens more frequently. You have a task, assignment or project that needs to be done, but any ounce of motivation has escaped you. Binge watching Netflix specials or funny cat videos seems to be more appealing and less taxing on your mind.

So….you decide to give in to the temptation of procrastination. “I will just do it later.”

The dragon of procrastination makes you believe that in the moment, doing it later is a better option. Only for you to feel more stressed, anxious, frustrated or depressed as a result of waiting until later.

What is procrastination, really? It is often characterized by the avoidance of difficult tasks or purposefully finding distractions. It is the reflection of the struggle of self-control and the inability of accurately predicting future feelings and desires. You may say, “I will just do it tomorrow or later” insinuating that you already know you will have the desire to do it then. In reality, you do not know this for sure. There may be the presence of fear of failing/succeeding at a task or a belief that you work better under pressure, therefore you put it off.

Procrastination is not a problem of productivity, but a battle of the mind.

We all procrastinate to some degree, but some suffer from it. When stress and conflicting emotions presents themselves, procrastination seems like a harmless way to cope. Most of us would rather feel better in the moment forgoing the consequences of dealing with our feelings later. We essentially experience a struggle with managing our emotions effectively, not our time.

We must shift our inner voice from I “have to” to I “want to.” Improving our emotional regulation, or ability to cope with our emotions in a healthy way is essential.

You can start here:

1. Appreciate Yourself- Reframe from thinking negatively about yourself for procrastinating. Beating yourself up about it can lead to feeling stuck in ruminating about procrastination. Replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Being kind to yourself helps to build a strong foundation of resilience against the dragon.

2. Practice Mindfulness- Being more aware of your thoughts helps you to be more reflective of the feelings you are experiencing. Present awareness creates a deeper level of understanding of your emotions, therefore reducing procrastination. Instead of avoiding or amplifying your emotions, deal with them in the present moment. Acknowledge your feelings, feel what you need to feel, process them and then make a decision to move forward.

3. Take Action- Introspection will get you but so far. You must take the first step. Break down your goals into achievable small steps. Set deadlines. Prioritize. Just start. Be proud of yourself doing it now.

Slay.

If you or someone you know is experiencing challenges with managing emotions in healthy ways, please seek support. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with me, please contact me!

The Trap of Self-Comparison

Written by: Janine Canaday, LPC, LCPC

Suzie is a senior in high school and has a 4.2GPA, is captain of the cheerleading team, dates the school’s star basketball player and is expected to attend an Ivy League college in the fall. She genuinely has a kind heart, enjoys rescuing puppies and volunteering at the local nursing home. You think, Suzie has it made. She has everything going for her and is a far better person than you will ever be. You make B average grades, are ranked 3rd on your tennis team and are awaiting to attend one of the best schools in your state. You have a magnetic personality, are very artistic and know how to play the guitar. But, your grades are not like hers, you do not have a popular boyfriend like she does and you feel like a failure. You spend a good portion of your day thinking about all of the ways that she and other girls like her have it better than you. You have fallen into the trap of self-comparison.

This trap is big, sharp and it sucks. It pokes at you and constantly reminds you of where you think you fall short. It makes you feel deficient and inadequate. Society has strategically placed many of these traps in places or situations that you frequent such as social media, magazines, school, work, restaurants, billboards, movies, television, music, social gatherings and so on. Our minds are constantly being bombarded with images and messages on what is considered ideal, top of the line or acceptable. Anything less than that is not good enough. When you are confronted with so many opportunities to compare who you are and what you have, it is hard not to internalize the feelings of “less than” or “lack.” In the end, comparing yourself to others only validates the insecurities, self-doubt and fear that resides within.

Over time, you may start to notice that your mind looks for reasons to compare in order to prove the negative and irrational thoughts that you created about yourself. The reality is though, self-comparison is completely unfair to you. It causes you to focus on certain characteristics about a person that only paint part of the picture of who that person is. Yes, Suzie may be great in some areas, but that does not diminish the areas that you really shine in. We all have our strengths and areas of improvement which do not make us better or less than each other.

Society tries to enforce a greater than/less than model of living when we should strive towards embracing the idea that there is room for everybody at the table. We all have something to contribute, learn, teach and share. This is what makes each of us unique, valuable, purposeful and special.

Focusing on where you think other people shine blocks your ability to see your own light.

How do I stop falling in the trap of self-comparison? I’m glad you asked.

1. Become Aware. Self-awareness is half the battle. You are one step closer to overcoming this struggle when you can recognize that you are placing inaccurate judgment on yourself based on the unfair ideals of society. Pay close attention to your self-talk and inner critic. Be mindful of what you are feeding your mind and soul.

2. Look Within. Define your self-worth based on what you know to be true about who you are. Take inventory of the progress you have made, the last few chapters of your story or the season of life you just powered through. Focus on the strengths you possess, the value you add and the improvements you want to continue to make. It is only a fair comparison when it is against yourself.

3. Minimize Triggers. If you know that social media or certain magazines/shows/places trigger feelings of inferiority or inadequacy, minimize the amount of time that you spend in those areas. Replace that time with more productive ways of thinking, habits, and behaviors. Spend the time focusing on building yourself up and working towards your goals.

4. Accept Imperfection. We all have flaws. No one is perfect. Someone who appears to have it all also has her own set of challenges and struggles. It is ok. Show yourself some compassion. Embrace your challenges and celebrate your wins. They are unique to you and are what sets you apart from everyone else.

Life is not a competition. It is a journey. Define your own path.

If you or anyone that you know struggles with self-comparison, low self-esteem, depression or anxiety, please seek support from a trusted individual. If you would like more information on how I can help you to better manage the challenges in your life, please contact me!

Parents: What does my teen daughter need from me?

woman kissing cheek of girl wearing red and black polka dot top

Photo by Albert Rafael on Pexels.com

Written by: Janine Canaday, LPC, LCPC

The good ole “teenage struggle” is often a very challenging period of life. She often wonders, “Am I pretty enough?” “Will they like me?” “Who will understand me?” There is peer pressure to engage in risky behavior or to look a certain way. Social media, magazines and movies can present “perfect” like images to our young ladies of what is considered to be socially acceptable for body weight, fashion, electronics and so forth. Daily, she is bombarded with strong and impressionable words from her environment that try to define her self worth.

It is Overwhelming.

The world around her is so influential therefore, it is vital for parents to play an integral role in supporting the needs of their teen. Most parents mean well and try to offer advice to their teens on how they were able to manage themselves during those years. You have heard it before. “I was once your age.” “I know what you are going through.” Yes. But, those words do not resonate well with teens. The reality is, teens do not want your advice. They want your love, care, respect and attention.

Here are 5 quick and helpful tips in making sure that you are staying connected to your teen in a meaningful and effective way:

1. Be Present: When you are engaging with your teen, provide her with your undivided and uninterrupted attention. Put your phone and computer down. Make eye contact. Let her know that you are showing up for her physically, emotionally and mentally. This offers her a sense of security, confidence and self-worth.

2. Listen: Teens will often open up more if they feel like they are being heard. Refrain from overreacting, interrupting her as she speaks or over-talking her. She will shut down emotionally and close you out of her world. Instead, stay calm, have open posture, reaffirm that you heard her through non-verbal gestures and facial expressions. This fosters a deeper level of trust and communication.

3. Guidance over advice: Allow her time to navigate her thoughts on how to handle tough situations by talking it out. Ask open ended questions to facilitate healthy dialog. Foster effective communication and guidance through family activities, game night and dinner table discussions. Teens tend to be more receptive when they feel you are helping them through the process of making good choices instead of just telling them how you think they should do it.

4. Provide Structure: Believe it or not, teens want structure. Rules provide a level of stability and predictability. They desire to feel valued, want to contribute to the family structure and have responsibility.

5. Show Empathy: Be understanding of her developing sense of autonomy, independence and desire for personal space. Still set boundaries. Encourage her to consider the perspective of others and to see how her choices can not only affect her, but also impact those around her. This helps her to be more loving and caring towards herself and others.

If you are experiencing any challenges with helping your teen manage herself and the world around her, please have her join a safe space with other teen girls where she can engage in a collective dialogue about the “teenage struggle.” Register for this 6 week group starting in February!!

If you or your teen need additional support to help you navigate challenges with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, work-life balance or trauma, please contact my office today to schedule an appointment!