PROCRASTINATION? PERFECTIONISM?
Don’t Let Your Inner Critic Hold You Back

by Doris Helge, Ph.D. © 2013

All of us have a powerful inner critic that sometimes holds us back with critical comments and beliefs. When we don’t understand how to work with our negative internal voice and we don’t understand that it has our best interests in mind, our misguided inner gremlin blasts us with unpleasant chatter like, “You’re not good enough” and warns, “Don’t take a risk. You might fail!”

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When we’re entertaining procrastination and perfectionism, we’re traveling The Road of Illusions. Our self-sabotage is similar to wearing thick, dark glasses that zap night-time visibility on a foggy street devoid of stars or streetlamps.

The path of perfectionism and procrastination is a road of illusions because both are as much a choice as deciding to drive after donning shadowy spectacles during the dark of the moon.

ILLUSIONS

Most of our challenges are not inherently as difficult as we tell ourselves. They are difficult because we procrastinate and attempt to be perfect before going forward.

We escalate our self-doubt when we fret about what we dislike about a task instead of accomplishing one small step at a time. When we ponder the pain of a potential failure, our focus magnifies the possibility of incompetency or defeat.

We also cheat ourselves out of appreciating the present moment because we reinforce the nagging feeling that we should be doing something else. Clearly, we elevate our stress when we put things off instead of taking action. It is procrastination and perfectionism . . . not a specific task . . . that feed fear and fatigue.

WHAT’S YOUR ROOT CAUSE?

Below is a list of the most common causes of procrastination and perfectionism. Make a note about the reasons you sometimes put off activities that really need to be done. Be totally honest with yourself so you can gain the most value from this exercise.

• Don’t know how to accomplish a goal
• Lack clear priorities
• Not truly committed to a goal
• Resources are overcommitted
• Feel unsupported
• Uncomfortable asking for help
• Manage time poorly
• Fear the unknown
• Feel inadequate or unworthy
• Fear being judged negatively if failure occurs
• Addicted to the adrenaline rush associated with pressure to achieve at the last minute
• Fear success. Note: This is really fear of change, so I teach my clients to celebrate fear of success and change. These common fears are evidence that it’s time to shift your self-image from unworthy or unsuccessful to successful and deserving.

WHY DO ALL OF US RESIST POSITIVE CHANGE?

Most people spend far too much time struggling to protect themselves from their fear of failure. They don’t understand that fear of success (fear of change) is a much stronger driver.

You’d think that we would eagerly drop old identities like “I’m stuck” and “I can’t have what I want.” You’d think we’d hungrily embrace a new self-image like, “I’m an empowered person with choices.” Why don’t we?

Humans are hardwired to resist change, even when it’s clearly to our advantage. That’s why the fear of changing our core identity is so frightening for most of us that fear of success is one of the most stubborn root causes of procrastination and self-sabotage.

THE CHOPPY SEA INSIDE ALL OF US

We are complicated. All of us are continuously influenced by an ocean of unresolved material that churns nonstop inside of our brains and bodies. This stormy sea is comprised of our unchallenged thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and emotions. It is a tempest that never rests. New cloudbursts are constantly seeded by conflicting opinions of friends, family, coworkers, authority figures and the media.

Whew! No wonder you’re sometimes unsure about your core identity. Who are you? What do you believe? What do you really want? The good news is that most of your procrastination and perfectionism, fear of success and fear of change are muddled by unconscious motives. You can rapidly transform your illusions when you take off your self-imposed, foggy glasses and elevate your self-awareness.

An excellent way to begin is to make friends with your misguided inner critic. It’s a powerhouse of energy that can become immensely useful to you. You created your inner critic as a protective mechanism when you were a small child. Thinking you weren’t big enough, strong enough or good enough kept you out of trouble with many adults, but your inner critic now needs a new description. It’s been working nonstop since you created it, struggling to gain your attention and restrain your personal power. You’ve grown up, but your inner voice hasn’t caught up. You’ll gain freedom when you transform the old crippling voice of your inner critic into a supportive inner coach.

BEGIN BY REDEFINING YOUR INNER CRITIC’S JOB DESCRIPTION

When you read “Conquer Your Inner Critic”, you’ll benefit from an innovative, proven approach that emerged from years of work with hundreds of clients who were facing the same challenges you’re struggling with. Like you, they were haunted by critical self-talk, procrastination and perfectionism.

You’ll gain special value from the illustrations and the workbook that are part of the book. Order “Conquer Your Inner Critic” at http://bit.ly/ConIC.

© 2013. Excerpted with permission from the #1 Bestselling Book, “Conquer Your Inner Critic” by Doris Helge, Ph.D. You may reprint this article as long as it is in tact and proper attribution is given.

You may have seen Dr. Doris interviewed on “The Today Show,” CNN and NPR. Doris Helge, Ph.D. is the #1 Bestselling Author of books like “Conquer Your Inner Critic,” ”Transforming Pain Into Power — Making the Most of Your Emotions” and “Joy on the Job.” Download a free chapter of “Conquer Your Inner Critic” at http://bit.ly/ConIC.

 

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  1. Donna Rchards
    5 years ago

    This article really helped me see WHY I was procrastinating so now I can work with the perfectionistic part of myself and turn it around. I also recommend Doris’ “Conquer Your Inner Critic” book which helped me make peace with my inner critic.

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