Every day brings an interesting client. My client today had procrastination. He is finishing university this year. He has one more course to finish and his degree will be complete. He failed the course last year and now he cannot get down to studying what he has to do for this year. If he fails this time he will fail the whole degree.
Typically a therapist would suspect that this client either is afraid of failing or is afraid of succeeding. And indeed when he gets his degree he will be taking up a job overseas. He will have to give up the comfortable life of a student, so there is the fear of the unknown.
However, when I questioned him further it was obvious that he was actually suffering from undiagnosed depression. He had all the symptoms, and in particular, black and white thinking. In his case this was in the form of perfectionism. Procrastination Perfectionism is very common.
He felt that if he was not going to do well in the exam and pass with outstanding marks then he was a complete failure. He had failed before so he wasn't sure that he would pass this time. That little voice in his head was saying 'You might as well not bother'. And so he was demotivating himself over and over. As the deadline crept nearer it got more and more likely that he would indeed fail. So it became an ever diminishing circle of anxiety and recrimination, and negative thinking. And the more pressure he put on himself the less work he did.
Once the situation was explained to him he could see what was happening and that the key to preventing his procrastination was dealing with the negative thoughts first. We will have to wait and see how this turns out, but it is interesting to me that in all the books I have read on procrastination none has ever suggested the link with depression, expectations and perfectionism.
I think it might be worth researching further.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
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