Procrastination or Misalignment

Procrastination or Misalignment

About this Podcast:

A description of, including modeling of behavior, of the strongest predictor of a relationship that may be doomed to failure, including a discussion of trauma bonding and codependency. Most importantly, we talk about concrete practical solutions if you intend for your relationship to succeed.

Episode Transcript:

Hi, everybody. Before we get into the meat of the conversation about procrastination, I realized, which I recorded yesterday, I realized that I hadn't been clear about the fact that I know that procrastination, ADD, ADHD, people who are chronically overdriven and have been for years, sometimes decades, can struggle with chronic PTSD ADD, ADHD, procrastination, fragmentation of thought processes and struggle to follow through on anything or even have so much cortisol, they struggle to remember that they had intended to do something. This morning. And in my conversation in which I'm talking about people who pathologize themselves and believe that they are procrastinating, but in fact are just trying to do something that they don't really want to do. I didn't make it clear that I know that procrastination and those sorts of ADD, ADHD, fragmented thought processes that come from trauma, chronic anxiety, things like that is a real thing that really exists and getting help from a therapist really helps. So the conversation that I have in which you'll see that I have a different shirt that I recorded yesterday in no way is meant to dismiss the fact that some people actually struggle with fragmented thought processes that result from high anxiety, high adrenaline, high cortisol levels, chronic PTSD, ADD, ADHD. So this is not meant to be dismissive, but to address a specific situation where people believe that they procrastinate, or they accuse themselves, they pathologize themselves when in fact they're just trying to do something that doesn't align with them, and they don't actually deeply want to do it. Okay. With that said, there'll be a couple of transitions in this video. Thanks guys. Hi everybody. It is the end of the day, and I'm going to do a one-off about something that people struggle with a lot. And it comes up over and over in my practice in conversations and I experienced it myself. And so I'll start by sharing my life experience and what I learned about it. So I was very musical at a very, very young age. I remember as young as first grade actually composing a song after choir practice in the first grade. My father taught my sister to play piano. I took piano lessons and learned quite rapidly. Picked up my sister's guitar, I think somewhere around 10 or something and taught myself from a book. And from there got a good guitar instructor, Collins Far. I don't know where he is, but much appreciation for him. And learned very quickly, clearly had talents and an aptitude for it, was super excited, super into it, was always writing and playing and did really poorly in school my freshman year because I just couldn't wait to get home and get my hands on my guitar and play. And so everyone who knew me was like, you know, you're such a musician. It's like so obvious you're a musician. And by the time I was in middle school, we played the school dance. And then by the time I was like 16, I think I would occasionally do gigs with my guitar instructor in bars, country fairs, graduated from high school, moved to Los Angeles played and continued to play. And it was just sort of a foregone conclusion that I was such a musician. And I love playing guitar. And then at some point I got into songwriting even more than guitar playing. And that sort of guitar playing just sort of became static. I had developed a high level of skill. And then ultimately had a midlife crisis and went through some stuff and had to work on figuring out ways to make money. Had quite a few things happen in the interim. And then I came back on a little later, maybe in my early thirties, when it was possible to build a home studio for pretty inexpensively and learn to engineer at a fairly reasonable level such that you could get placements and film and TV and you could record other artists. And really, even though it kind of destroyed the music industry as it was known, Um, the idea of getting a record contract or working for a publisher, these things that were the only pathway were no longer the only pathway. And anyone who was really driven and motivated could actually make a decent living. Um, so I got into engineering and pursued it and continued to write and engineer and produce. And, um, I had finally worked my way into then by then my late thirties. Had worked my way into the industry to a level that I knew enough people and was starting to get placements and was starting to make a bit of money and understood how the industry worked, and it even worked with a business coach. I was at the point, I was at the door or even one foot in the door where I was getting yeses and anyone would say, well, there you have it. You sort of spun out for a while, but you worked really hard, and you figured some things out. But nothing ever clicked, but I had enough self-awareness. That as I watch myself and as my business coach would say things like, Hey, you know, you can't just go to music, um, industry stuff, right? You're not selling music to other musicians for the most part. Like you might run into a record company executive or a publisher and that certainly there's value, but you need to be hanging out at film industry, TV industry, advertising. You know, those are your customers. You need to get to know them. Furthermore, you need to hobnob. Furthermore, you need to be. Um, looking at the placements that are happening there. I mean, there was a time when just one or two placements in advertising could float you for a year or two. Um, if you were not spending too much money and I knew people and was interacting with people who made, you know, low six figures, you know, enough to maybe even purchase, purchase a house, and they worked hard, you know, they would work six days a week and, and you get enough music there in the pipeline, and you can really make something out of it. And I didn't. And I had a good friend in the industry at the time when I sort of told them that one of the problems I had is I would write a piece, and it would be a good piece and I would go pitch it. And sometimes people would be like, you know what? I really want that, but I don't like what you did with the lyrics and I need a different content. Can you go back and rework it? And I just sort of always had this feeling of like, I don't know, like I said what I said, and I did what I don't want to. Like I really don't want to. I don't want to. I don't care. Like I want to write something else. And this was a friend that I trusted and he sort of looked at me, and he was like, you can't do that. Like if you want to make a living in this business, When someone who's a potential client or customer tells you, Hey, can you go back and rewrite the, you go back and rewrite it, and you get it done in three days or a week, and you get that to them. And then if they're like, Hey, that's pretty cool, but can you do this? You go back and do it. Right. And you do the job, and it really hit me. No, I don't want to. I don't want to. So the truth is. that though I was and maybe am musically talented, was quite talented, that I never, when I look back at all my time in the music industry, all the time I've played on the stage, I never looked forward to it, never. There were periods of time that the band I was in was fairly successful. There was a period of time that I toured in Iceland with Richard Scobie and X-Rated. Never enjoyed being on stage. I loved hanging out with the guys. I loved writing. Furthermore, I loved music. But the part where you were actually a musician putting this thing in the world, I never cared about it. I never liked it. I never enjoyed it. Even when I gained an obvious level of skill, and it wasn't just like really stage fright, and I'm so nervous, but I never liked it. I didn't want to go to some fraternity and play music for three hours and watch people get drunk. I didn't want to go to a club. Furthermore, I didn't want to set up. Furthermore, I just wanted to stay in my studio and write what I had to write and do what I wanted to do and make music. And then I wanted the world to give me enough money that I could do that. That is a self-interested motivation. What that is and what I realized at the time is you don't want to be a musician. You love making music. It's a deep part of yourself, but it is for you. It's not for anybody else. If someone happens to like it, that's great. But you don't really like 80% of what it is to do this thing. You don't like it. I had been doing it at that point for 20 years, longer than 20 years, probably 25 years. It was not for lack of talent. It was not for lack of opportunity. Furthermore, it was not for lack of exposure to the right things. Furthermore, it was, you know, things lined up. In the end, I had to really admit, no matter how pretty this looks on paper, no matter how many talents that you have that line up with this thing, it doesn't mean that it is what you are meant to do. And I expected to experience some depression and bitterness when I left the music industry. And I can tell you honestly, I have never. I have never. Sometimes I miss recording, writing something. I'll write songs for my kids. Sometimes I miss, you know, sometimes at a party with friends, I'll just pick up a guitar and play and that's fun and I enjoy that. I've never missed it. I've never regretted it because it didn't truly align with who I am. And whether you believe in this more sort of existential spiritual stuff, metaphysical stuff, it didn't align with what I was meant to do. When I look at my personality and how I thought and deeply profound experiences I've had over my entire life, They're really quiet, but consistent. It's how I was thinking when I woke up. It was how I was thinking before I went to sleep. Furthermore, it's how I think when I'm dreaming. Furthermore, it's how I talk. Furthermore, it is when I engage someone and start chatting with them, I start eliciting certain types of conversations because I think a certain way, because I am a certain way. And that way of being, not the idea of being a musician of like, oh, you have this talent and blah, blah, blah. And like, you can write songs and oh, you're really, when I was young, I had long hair and there was this look, it's like, oh, all of this stuff lines up. You're such a musician. But if you really looked at my deep personality, my way of being in the world, as far back as I can remember, I was always thinking about things like I remember when I was like five or six years old, maybe six years old, my sisters and I would turn on the hose and pour water into an old horse trough that's no longer being used. We would get in it. We would swim. The water was freezing. It was the Northwest. And I would sit in that cold water, and I was a skinny little kid, so I would get quite cold. And I would think, what is the nature of cold? Like, why is cold? Why do I experience it as uncomfortable? It's not hurting me. I'm not being hurt. I'm not being made sick. Like, is there a way that I can think about this? Would there be a way of looking at it and understanding it that it would stop being uncomfortable? What is the discomfort? What does it mean that I'm uncomfortable? I remember at a very young age going to my mother and saying, what does it mean that I can think about the fact that I'm thinking? I was out in the front yard, and I was thinking, and then I realized I was thinking, and I was thinking about that. Furthermore, I was thinking. Furthermore, I would think about death. Furthermore, I would think about a lot about morality, like why people are this way, why people are that way. Furthermore, I've always been fascinated with religion. So without going into a full biography, it becomes pretty apparent that though I had the talents of a musician, that my core personality, my core way of being, a way of being that's unavoidable for me, I cannot not think this way, was much more existential and philosophical, and it was always about the human condition. It was always about morality. It was always about how people related to one another. And In a moment of desperation, realizing that I was married and intending to have kids with some encouragement from my wife, I was desperately considering. I knew that I'd love teaching, but I didn't want to teach. I just didn't want to do that. Furthermore, I had been in education research. Furthermore, I'd done so many things. Furthermore, I'd worked at a veterinarian clinic. And ultimately, two or three years in, I would look at these things and be like, I don't know, it just feels depressing. I don't. I just I can't imagine doing that for the rest of my life. And then I would think, oh, maybe there's something wrong with me. And then you pathologize yourself like, well, you have resistance, or you have trauma, and maybe you're not comfortable with yourself, and you got comfortable, then you would enjoy your job, blah, blah, blah. All of this stuff that we do. But the truth is. In my early mid-forties or my early forties somewhere, out of desperation, I applied to a psychology MFT program, and it happened so fast. Within two weeks, I got into USC and then their program was online at the time. And I didn't want to do that. I was like, I want to sit in a room with people, um, applied to Pepper dine and literally within a week. Was accepted, was filling out the paperwork the Friday before classes, signed, literally signed like, yes, I'm in, the money's lined up, took out student loans, and three days later was sitting in classes. That's how fast it happened and how easy it was. And from there on out, there was never a doubt. It was like, oh man, this is somehow easy for me. Even when it's hard, it's easy for me. Everything about the way I act and think lines up with this. And so I found my passion. I found this thing. I'm so lucky. Like you have no idea the gratitude You know, and that's this woo thing and therapists are all into it. And self-help and gratitude makes for a healthy internal environment. People talk about gratitude. I'm not bullshitting you. Do you know how grateful I am that nothing I did stuck? And I was literally aged out. I was aging out of applying for jobs. Aging out of applying for jobs. And... So I just had a client contact, so I'm having to consider whether I will continue. I think I'll pause, speak with this client, and then I will finish the podcast if you will bear with me. Thanks, guys. All right. So coming back, I had to take a call. That does throw the energy off. But essentially, I was talking about How deeply grateful I feel that at an age when I was aging out of applying for anything, I had taught on and off for six years. I'd worked in education research for about six years. I had tangentially kind of worked in market research, but not really. Understood a lot about it, had read a lot of the books, whatever. But I had never stuck with anything long enough and developed and worked a way up to show this trajectory of this person, this is what this person does, right? And so you can walk in. And I was getting old enough that people start going, you know, they want to know that you've done something in that field. So I was really starting to age out. So I feel deeply, deeply grateful that I found the thing that aligns with me. The way I think. What I elicit from people, what I elicit from myself, the way I am, matches this. And I'm profoundly grateful to have had a thriving practice. And to have enjoyed, always enjoyed the work. And sometimes it's hard, but there's a difference, right? When you're aligned with it, there's never like, oh, maybe I shouldn't do that. It's always just like, oh, well, this part is hard, but I just want to get through this hard part and get back to enjoying what I do. So that's an example of this thing that you could have made. All these judgments and accusations like, oh, You have a problem with procrastination. People do that a lot. It's like, oh, you're ADD. You have a problem with procrastination. Or there's some avoidance. There's something about a fear. You know, you fear something about it or a really classic one therapist like to do, which is like, well, if you really feel entitled, like maybe you don't respect yourself or like yourself. You've had some negative experiences, and you won't allow yourself this. Furthermore, you don't believe that you're entitled to it. But I want to tell you that. Again in a decade now of being a therapist and all the conversations I've ever had I Don't think once I've ever had a conversation about Someone who felt that they were procrastinating or who was going, you know, I really want to write a book. I don't understand why I don't work on it, or I really want to do this or that. I don't understand why I don't work on it. You can explore for weeks months years. In every single case, in almost every single case, what you find is that that thing, though it looks like it matches on the surface, doesn't align with that person, doesn't align with that person deeply and the kind of person they are effortlessly of being, that their way of being is so effortless and it's so natural that they are that way that when you harness it into wherever that's useful, it becomes almost effortless. I don't have to work at doing this. I think this way. Furthermore, I read this kind of stuff. Furthermore, I do it whether I'm doing this or not. Furthermore, I read this kind of stuff. Furthermore, I think this way. And so my suggestion to you is If you're having conversations with yourself about wondering, why didn't I do this or that? Or why, like, I really think I want to do X, Y, or Z. Or I'll see people have these conversations around having kids or family. I'll see this with couples who you can tell by the undertone that they're kind of done with the relationship. They don't want to be in the relationship. So suddenly intellectually, they're looking at all these things that line up. Where they'll say things like, if I say, well, you know, first, you know, if you're in couples therapy, first, tell me why you're together. Why were you ever together? Why are you together now? What is it? What is it that works? It'll be kind of intellectual. You know what? You know, we've many years together and had a lot of good times and I really appreciate, you know, how kind he is to the kids, and I really appreciate how artistic or creative she is. I really like blah, blah, blah. I think it's interesting that he or she, but you can tell the way they talk about it. It's like a checklist of like, well, these are some good things about this person. Why does someone do a checklist about, oh, these are some good things about this person, or this is some good things about the situation? The reason people do a checklist is that they don't feel it. They're not feeling it. It's not in alignment. Now, there might be some trauma or some other thing going on with that person that maybe if we do some couples work, and we find out, oh, maybe somebody cheated, and we need to get past that, you really do want to be together, but there's some forgiveness and there are some ownership needs. There can be reasons. There can be blockages. It's not that blockages never exist. But if you've spent significant periods of time, maybe even years, telling yourself that you want to do something, all the messages that come back from self-help are that you have some issue that stops you. But again, I find over and over and over and over, your issue is thinking that you actually want to because you don't. What has happened is you haven't really met yourself? There's some childhood belief or there's some expectation unmet that was imposed on you by parents or society or blah, blah, blah, that makes you feel like you're working to satisfy this expectation. Like in my case, it was the only thing that I ever actually kind of succeeded at that people acknowledged, oh, in most other cases, I was, for example, very athletic, but I was not an athlete. Meaning I was physically athletic, but I was not good at sports, not in any significant way. So there wasn't a lot of success there. At the time academically, I had not sorted things out. So I had not done well in school, et cetera. So music was the one thing that society had, I felt that I enjoyed it, but society had come and said, this is who you are. And it's part of who I am, but it's not the most important part of who I am. It's not the most comfortable. It's not the most powerful. Furthermore, it's not the most fluid. Furthermore, it's not the most natural. Furthermore, it's not the most authentic part of who I am because what the industry requires are things that are just not part of my personality in very significant ways. Doesn't mean that maybe in 15 years, something happens, and maybe I'm involved in music again, not saying anything, not making any black or white judgments. Another example would be, I quite enjoy languages, and I'm good at them. And I've worked on and off of Spanish to the point that I have a pretty solid foundation, lots of vocabulary, but I don't really speak it conversationally. And I had to own. At some point, if you really liked working on Spanish, you would have been doing it. For example, I like exercising and no matter how messed up my life is, no matter how crazy it is, I always manage to fit it in. Even if it's just drop and do 20 push-ups in the morning, no matter what, I always fit it in no matter how difficult things are. Yet, in easy times and hard times, there's always some reason why I don't have a Spanish tutor, and I'm not studying it. So at some point you have to own - You don't really want it. You want the idea of speaking it fluently, you want the outcome, but you don't enjoy the thing itself. And so maybe this is another way of saying it more clearly. If you're struggling with something that you feel like you procrastinate, and you're not getting to, you have to really get honest. Who am I? What are my habits? What are my behaviors really? But also, have I sold myself on the idea of having the reward of the thing, but the doing of the thing itself I don't want to do? For example, I would love to have the outcome of being a multimillionaire, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars. I have lots of ideas, lots of things I'd love to do, lots. For one thing, I'd like to mountain bike in every country in the world. That'd be awesome. I want the reward, but I know what types of personalities and what types of thinking and what types of work and the hours worked and the way those people work. Who have those things, and I have absolutely zero desire to do it. None. So guess what? I like the idea, I like the reward of doing that kind of work, and then it comes with a certain thing as a response to doing that kind of work, but I don't actually like the work. So guess what? Forget about it. You're not going to get the thing. Because you have to love the work. You have to love the process. And so lots of people love the idea. Someone might say, you know what, I really want to be good at jiujitsu. Okay, do you like gyms? Do you like going to gyms? Do you like pushing yourself physically hard? Do you like playing a little physical chess and working on your know, finessing some movements and balance and do you like interacting closely with someone? Do you like losing a lot and then learning from that losing? If you don't like those things, you do not want to actually be good at jiujitsu. You do not want to be a Brazilian jiujitsu master or a black belt. You don't. What you want is the reward, and you want the acknowledgement. You want to have the skill. Like if God came down and just went, ding, and you're just going to download the skill into your brain and your body, you want that. But you don't actually like the thing itself. So we'll close with that. So it's sort of cooked down to number one, if things are lining up on paper, The fact that they line up on paper tells you that you're not deeply aligned with it, because when you're deeply aligned, you don't even think about it as lined up on paper. I never lined up things for me being a therapist on paper. I just am this way. So if it's intellectual or if you're just like, I just always procrastinate or if you're judging yourself and that's been going on for a long time, and you work with different things, and you try to remove your trauma, your avoidance, blah, blah, You need to really seriously consider the possibility that you're trying to satisfy some expectation that's not yours. You don't actually want that thing. You don't actually want to do that thing. Right. And so maybe that's just a different way of saying that sometimes we have the idea of the thing, and we love it. And if God can come and go, ding, you can have it. We would go, oh, I'll take that. But. You need to be really honest. If you don't like the nitty-gritty day-to-day, week-to-week, month-after-month, year-after-year grind of how that thing is created, you do not like the thing. Right? You just have some maybe childhood sort of type expectation, maybe even a childish sort of expectation of like, oh, that would be cool. No, it wouldn't. If you really look at the lifestyle, it wouldn't. So just a couple of thoughts today on procrastination isn't always procrastination. Sometimes you just don't want to do that very deeply. You haven't found what you really, really want to do. Imposed expectations. You have to be really careful, especially when you have the talent and intelligence to be able to accomplish things that people expect from you. And then we like that social feedback. We're like, oh, people are like, oh, you're totally this. I know lots of people who are very talented and intelligent and are good at quite a few things. And people will tell them, oh, you should totally do this. No, you shouldn't. No, you shouldn't. No, you shouldn't. Just because you can don't mean it's the thing that's going to align with you. It might be something that you're good at. You might be one of those talented people who's good at that, but you will slowly feel this toxic buildup of these feels meaningless. It wears me down. I don't know why I don't like it. You go to therapy. Why don't I like my job? Well, maybe it's just not the thing that aligns with you. Maybe you shouldn't like that job. Maybe you shouldn't force yourself and do a bunch of therapy to try to convince yourself to like that job. Maybe it doesn't align with you. So people impose their expectations, or we have sort of an idealistic maybe a bit of a childish idea that I want the reward of the thing and I have no idea what the actual grind is like. I like the actual grind of being a therapist. I like it. Furthermore, I think about it in between sessions. Furthermore, I like it every day when I do it. Furthermore, I like it when I'm in session. Furthermore, I'm not just waiting for the day to be over. Furthermore, I like it. Therefore, I get some rewards out of that. So if you have an idea of a thing that you like, but you don't like the grind when we really look at what the thing is, you don't actually want that thing. So just encouraging you to be a bit more honest and genuine and maybe consider the possibility that you don't have a problem with procrastination. You have a problem with forcing yourself to do things that don't actually align with you. That's a thought for today. Thanks for listening, and I will see you guys next time. Take care.

Meet your hosts:

Jon Sorensen


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