Procrastination, feeling that you ‘must’

By 7 May 2020 March 4th, 2021 No Comments

Procrastination, feeling that you ‘must’

Do you recognize that when you fail that you experience that as a slap in the face? Have you noticed that when you experience a sense that ‘you must’, that you ‘have to do’ something you postpone?


Imagine you have a deadline in four weeks for an exam, a test, you have to finish some report, a PhD paper, present to an audience or something like that, and you postpone getting started, a day, every day. At some point you have two weeks left. You realize that you actually don’t have enough time to get everything done. Then you feel increasingly restless because you realize your situation. Reluctantly you start preparing. When you run into a problem that you cannot solve within 5 minutes, doubt arises. Doubt if you can do it, if you are smart enough and how others will think about you. These are all signs of procrastination.

You do not ask for help because you have been postponing. Because if you were to ask for help, the first question is, “Why didn’t you start earlier?” And you can’t handle that question. Why?

Feeling rebellious

As soon as you sit down to learn, for example, you feel rebellious, you don’t like getting assignments. You’re like, “You don’t have to tell me anything.” You generally worry a lot. You worry because you know you are putting things off and are therefore often stressed. As a result, you do not do much and your confidence is low.

You abhor the idea that you ’have to’ do something and that ‘sense of should’, that feeling is a feeling you have to push away. It is one of the nastiest feelings you know. In fact, this ‘feeling that you have to do something’ causes you to resist things that you would normally feel like doing. You have this with the strangest things. For example, if someone says, “We have to cook”. You want to leave or you don’t feel like cooking anymore. While at first you were thinking about what you wanted to prepare for dinner that night. You feel misunderstood and powerless and as soon as you have to do something you start rebelling …

Recognizable? I meet quite a few people who experience these phenomena or variations thereof.

The ‘feeling’ of having to

Many people don’t like it when they have to do something, but why is that? That has to do with the ‘feeling’ of having to, not so much with ‘have to’ itself. Having to or must is an idea, a concept. Like any concept, a concept gets meaning through the experiences you have in your life with ‘should, having to and must’. The experiences in your life that make a concept tangible are all the experiences that you get from your parents, brothers and sisters, school. Annoying and positive experiences, traumatic experiences and so on. All those experiences together around a concept form the meaning of this concept. Once you have some kind of template about what a concept means, you develop your emotional concepts. Your emotional concepts are the sensed meanings of a concept. And so ‘should or must’ can get loaded with a feeling of ‘horror’.

Procrastination by (unconscious) emotions

If ‘having to’ hadn’t gotten charged with such a gruesome feeling, then ‘having to’ probably would have been less of a problem. Because the feeling determines the value of the concept. Unconscious emotions largely control how we deal with ‘all’ concepts in our daily lives. ‘Love’ is a concept, ‘relationship’, ‘getting married’, ‘success’, ‘failure’, and so on, are all concepts. And these concepts are neutral in themselves and essentially meaningless. However, through the experiences you have had with the concept, the concept has acquired a charge. We know that charge as emotion. And it is precisely this emotion that determines which decisions you make!

Do you want to discover what the latest neuro-scientific knowledge can teach you about how to change unconscious emotions? Or do you want to get out of your own procrastination, fear of failure or relationship problems? Mail me to schedule an appointment go to the new training page: Relation Emotion Therapy and Coaching for the more about this subject.

Wassili Zafiris