Why you procrastinate even when it feels bad
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Procrastination can look like a symptom of laziness, but chronic procrastinators are actually often perfectionists with a high fear of failure. Procrastination is the neurological response to stress — the same “fight, flight, or freeze” reaction all mammals have in any life-threatening situation. This fear-processing system begins in the amygdala, a central part of the brain’s limbic system, which is involved in our behavioral and emotional responses to the external world.
If we view procrastination as not a time-management problem, but an emotional regulation problem, perhaps we can more successfully combat its negative effects. Researchers have dedicated swaths of studies to the self-blaming thoughts that are tied to procrastination, known as “procrastinatory cognitions,” and have developed the Procrastinatory Cognitions Inventory (PCI) to determine other thoughts and feelings most commonly associated with the tendency to procrastinate. This scale has provided a great deal of insight into the mind of the procrastinator, and continues to reveal how feelings of failure, shame, and guilt play a significant role in this avoidant behavior.
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