Claim Your Own Mental Fitness

Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?

Procrastination offers lots of opportunity for humor and it’s good to laugh at ourselves when we notice that we’ve yet again sabotaged the quality of our efforts and our peace of mind. The ninth Toxic Belief states that it’s more comfortable to avoid than to face problems or responsibilities. Once you realize how toxic belief #nine ignites fight-or-flight, you won’t be laughing. It’s not more comfortable in the long run to avoid unpleasant realities. It’s only a temporary solution promoted by your Indulgent Parent.

When you think of procrastination, you probably consider a project you resist doing or the time-crunch created because you put something off too long. But this toxic avoidance occurs far more widely than that. It happens whenever your Adult fails to manage your Child’s impulses to seek comfort right now. Without your Adult’s attention you may replace problem-facing behavior with activities that please your Child so much that you actually forget the reality you’re avoiding. These activities can become addictions which disable your Adult and allow neglect of your problems and responsibilities, sometimes for years. Part II, Chapter 2 in my book offers deeper understanding along with examples of addictions.

Because your fight-or-flight tendencies never disappear, your Adult must not take a vacation from managing them. The first step to prevent damaging avoidance is to recognize quickly when your Indulgent Parent has given your Adult the day off. Your Adult can observe that flight dominates when you first choose to avoid things; but then fight can take over if anyone tries to push your Child into facing your issues. Your Adult can’t take much time off, just like the baby-sitter for a three-year-old. People vary in how quickly their Child will get hooked on avoidant or just fun activities. But no one can trust a Child to cope with life on its own.

You can’t allow too much humor about this; keeping your Adult in charge is the key to mental fitness and the self-respect, self-confidence and relationship satisfaction that it brings. In addition, your Wise Parent must reinforce Adult efforts to prevent your Child from luring you into reckless behavior. Look up “procrastination” online to discover many wise people’s statements to build up your Wise Parent. Gradually, your Wise Parent’s self-talk will overcome your Indulgent Parent’s influence and keep your Adult engaged. This is the best you can do over a lifetime to manage your brain’s wiring to react with instant and frequent fight-or-flight. One phrase that nearly always applies is: this problem isn’t life-threatening, it’s just frustrating (annoying, embarrassing, unfair, inconvenient, temporarily overwhelming). So fight-or-flight isn’t necessary; I can hang in there and tackle it with a calm mind.

The coming blogs will describe how the other Indulgent Parent beliefs depend on the ninth toxic belief, and its ability to trigger fight-or-flight in response to problems you face. They all depend on your Adult’s being shut down by Child impulses, along with a weak Wise Parent. We’ll also discuss the third Child brain habit, which is the expectation that you can have a very special connection with someone else, where your needs will be anticipated and you’re free to let your Child play without Adult interference. Since this deep-seated habit reinforces Indulgent Parent beliefs, your Adult must also be alert for its influence.

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