Why is it that some people in life get the jobs they need to do, done while others just keep putting them off? Yes, the term is procrastinate, quite a sophisticated sounding word for something that can potentially undermine us. 'Just do it' was the advertising slogan the massive sports wear brand Nike used to use. Does telling people to 'Just do it' really make a difference? Perhaps it does, sometimes. But say it to a teenager needing to revise for yet another exam in a subject they don't like and the response may well be one of wishing you were #%!!!**@:( somewhere else. Of course, exams are often stressful occasions but many of us, everyday, put things off because we feel we don't have the time. 'I'm lazy!', 'He's lazy!' 'We're all lazy!' People say it all the time but does hearing it help?
Now, some new research is shedding light on what is happening in the brain to lead us to procrastinate. Searching through the BBC News website I came across this article by Nazima Pathan entitled 'Procrastination: It's pretty much all in the mind.' (click)
In it she explains how procrastination is more to do with our emotions than it is managing our time! Yes, that little almond-shaped structure that we know as the Amygdala is the part of us that is responsible for whether we 'Just do it' or not.
The Amygdala is where the brain processes sensory information (from our eyes, ears, nose etc.) and decides whether this information requires action to keep us safe. It is one of those structures that dates back millennia in our evolutionary history and is key to helping us avoid threat and ensuring we say alive. In the face of a potential danger, it may decide to do nothing if it calculates we are safe. On the other hand, it will trigger an emotional response such as anger, fear, tears etc, (in conjunction with other parts of the brain), whatever it thinks necessary at the time. Yes it acts rapidly but the range of responses it has are limited. Remember, threat nowadays, does not just mean wild beasts or invading warriors. It could mean an argument with family members, colleagues at work and even utility companies wanting payment. Threats also come from our own imagination that may never happen and it is these that are perhaps more pertinent to modern society today than ever.
Back to why we procrastinate, it seems to be because the activity we are putting off has a sense of threat associated to it (Remember, threat triggers an emotional reaction from our protective Amygdala) Not wanting to deal with something like a bill is a similar response to walking away from a poisonous snake as far as the Amygdala is concerned. Because it is so primitive it does not appreciate the difference, especially the long term consequences of something like not paying the bill. In order to use reason and look ahead we need to be working in our rational, left-prefrontal cortex. When we work from here, we make our best decisions. To remain here though, we need to convince our Amygdala that we are safe.
Being able to manage our emotions then is hugely important if we want to consistently resolve those issues that arise in our daily lives. We need to remain calm, accept the challenge of the problem and find an acceptable solution. We all need to make good, reasonable, decisions not just for ourselves but for those around us too, decisions that we can look back on and think, 'Yes, that was the right thing to do.'
And yes, Hypnotherapy can help you reduce your anxiety in life and therefore help you make decisions you will be happy with both now and in to the future.
Thanks to Rebecca Hutchings for sharing this article that was posted recently in New Scientist. It sheds a light on what the brain is doing during all that time we spend sleeping,
Talking to people, I think many of us are open to the idea that dreams are the body's way of trying sort our problems out. It's fascinating though to know that Scientists believe that there is something to it and want to prove it to be true.
I say fascinating because Solution Focused Hypnotherapy uses dream-like imagery as a tool to help clients solve some of life's dilemma's, from IBS to irrational fears and phobias. In the state that is somewhere between consciousness and sleep, these guided dreams, if you like, offer the mind an alternative to work with, something new and refreshing. Perhaps it is this different kind of dream that offers a new perspective on their lives and helps them take the steps needed to achieve the sort of changes they desire.