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Procrastination…caused by the ego mind (continued from post on procrastination)
Do we get anything out of procrastination? A little, but the ego gets most of it. You remember that first part where we committed to doing something like meditating? We imagined our self in a great role in our mental movie. We were a wonderful character doing something good, spiritual, even serene. When we believed that character in our mental micro movie was us, we felt good about our self for a short time. We got a pleasant emotional feeling. That’s an important part of the procrastination process because it keeps us trapped in it. That pleasant feeling is something we want to feel. So to get it we keep committing to stuff and projecting our self into these stories of good intentions. In the moment we feel good as we imagine our self to be that positive character in our mental movie. But it is also a set up for a lot of self judgment. We set up an image of expectation that we are later judged against.
The second part is where we don’t take action. We let our busy ego mind that is in self preservation mode make our decisions for us. It directs us to forget about what we committed to, distract us from it long enough for us to believe we failed. Then it projects thoughts like, “I still haven’t done that, what’s the matter with me. I can’t just seem to get things done.” In each of those mental stories it projects us as the main character in a failure role. This is a path of good intentions leading to emotional hell.
Procrastination is basically a function of our ego beliefs. Our ego mind pulls us into making commitments that it then operates trying to get us NOT to follow through. In this way we are tricked into believing in two false images of self, one of a successful self image and one of worthless failure self image. When we fall for this procrastinate trick of the ego mind we end up identifying with both false images even though they are completely opposite of each other.
There’s more than one step to solving the procrastination problem.
When we notice this problem of having two opposing ego identities our tendency is to try to pick one. Our mind will be confused by the fact that we can believe in two completely different versions of our self as both failure and success. In order to alleviate this feeling of confusion it tries to have us accept one self image as true and dismiss the other. The result is that we end up convincing our self for a little while that we are a worthless failure, or we spend time convincing our self that we a really are a good successful person. Either way the ego wins when we identify with one of the self images. We haven’t solved the real problem of false ego images, but in our state of conviction we have temporarily gotten rid of that confusion feeling.
Rarely does the mind come up with an alternative answer like, “Hey,,, those ideas the mind has of what I am,,, those are just ideas about me. I’m neither of those images of the ego mind. I’m not more a character in my mind than if someone showed me a home movie and said, the guy on the film was me.”
Am I Procrastinating?
I’m not avoiding, distracted from, or procrastinating on this issue of solving the issue of procrastination. I’m taking some time to point out the various dead ends and distractions our mind will have us chase. Procrastination is a problem, but it is also just a symptom of a deeper problem of our core beliefs. Specifically, the core beliefs we have about our identity. Solve the problem of false beliefs about your identity and procrastination dynamics go away on their own.
Without that false positive image character projecting commitments, we no longer say we are going to start meditating, or other so called good intentions. We don’t express from that false projected image. Instead we are more genuine and say what we mean. We can even go deeper into action than this and skip much of the dialog of the ego mind. We just envision what we want and we take action. We don’t need a projected self image in order to take action.
And if for some reasons our actions don’t attain our goals, (even Michael Jordan missed game winning shots) then we don’t fall into self judgment. This is a lot easier to avoid when there is no false self image. Without that negative false image we don’t identify with that failure character in the mind. As we refrain from identifying with the false images of success and failure in our mental micro movies we are on the path towards humility. We have less of that “unassuming nature.”
It’s important to understand that humility doesn’t mean meek. Humble people can actually be very powerful. We don’t usually notice their power because they tend to be quiet and listen more than they talk. Their power takes the form of quiet resolve. They don’t have a need to project one of their false images so they tend to listen more than talk. They don’t expend their energy trying to get attention or having debates in their mind convincing themselves. Since they don’t waste energy on these dynamics they have a lot more power to apply to what they really want.
Changing the Ego that is engaged in Procrastination
Of course it is easy to say, “Hey, just drop those stories and those false images.” This is the kind of commitment that an unaware person makes. It then backfires on them. This kind of commitment is doing the same pattern we are telling our selves to drop. We project a false image of our self as successfully dropping these stories and false images. When we tell our selves a story about what we should do, we are projecting a false image of our selves as a success. Without awareness we are likely to falsely identify our self as the character in our story who successfully drops such stories. In the mental movie moment of that good intention we are again being played by the ego. The ego has again won over our attention for another moment. Of course we might get a pleasant emotional moment of comfort with our hopeful story of positive change, but it is short lived.
It won’t be much longer and we will find out that our false projecting has continued. We didn’t break the habit at all. We only reinforced it when we believed the story about dropping false image projections. When that realization of failure happens then the ego mind swings the other way and tells us that we failed. It projects a story with an image of us as the main character failing to make a change. We feel like that character in the story of failure we identify through beliefs with that character. This is the ego mind getting reinforced in two opposing directions.
This same kind of reinforcement of two opposing false images of the ego happen each time we make a commitment of “I’m going to stop Procrastinating.” Can you see that this statement causes us to identify with a false image in a mental movie taking place in the future? Can you see that this is a set up for believing that we are that failure image later?
Getting out of the procrastination thing, or any other ego thing might seem like a Catch 22 at this point. Anytime you commit to change something you might just be reinforcing some part of the dynamic at a more fundamental level. It’s not hopeless. There are ways out of these patterns of procrastination, and false self images identification.
You can make these commitments to change, but they are usually only effective when done from another side of our personality, not just our ego. When the commitment arises from a genuine desire to be happy we are filled with a quiet intent filled resolve. From your resolve will be action.
At the Source of the Procrastination Problem
To successfully make these changes to procrastination we really have to look at the source of the problem and not just the symptoms. At the core of the problem are the false self images that we believe are us. When you no longer identify with those false images it is obvious that the good intentions the mind projects are just false ways to momentarily feel better. When you are aware and really observe them, they take on the quality of watching a movie and immediately become less believable. When you aren’t aware you are in the movie that your mind writes for you and you can’t change the script. That’s a big difference.
The good intentions might not seem like a big deal by itself, but it sets up the other half of the ego. The failure to execute by putting things off and that leads to self judgment, self rejection, and feelings of unworthiness and failure.
This problem is actually a lot of small dynamics all working together. There are the two false images that the ego mind projects. There are also the mental movies of distraction, deception, and denial layers that keep us busy so we don’t become aware of what is going on in our mind. Then there are the illusions of solutions that we might fall for. Those “commitments to change” where our ego takes us on another pleasant story in our imagination as a set up for another false self image identification and rejection.
So how does one dismantle such a web of illusions that are the cause of procrastination? Do the lessons in the Self Mastery Course and you’ll see how you can regain control of your life and emotional state from the false beliefs and your ego mind. It’s going to help you be aware of what goes on in your mind and how it can sabotage or lead you away from what you really want.2