I recently read a pretty fantastic article on the issue of procrastination at the very cool website “waitbutwhy.com”. You can find it here. It wasn’t 100% fantastic, though.
The thing is, it’s a great article and foundation of a map of the phenomenon. But to my mind it’s incomplete, and the way it interpret its findings just ends up being wrong because of it. The map needs to be given some additional features and tweaks, and then get re-interpreted for one to fully see what’s actually going on. At least if it’s spiritual liberation you’re shooting for.
See, what Tim Urban does in his article is that he very eloquently identifies and illustrates three main components that are at work during the occurrence of procrastination. (If you haven’t already, this is probably a good point to read the original article, as well as part II of the same series, as I will refer to material from those from here on.
From a spiritual perspective, where the map falls short is where it forgets to include a fourth component, which – have a guess! – is: your ego. Until you include the externally induced conditioning that constantly oppresses your spirit with its mental voice, ignorantly talking about who to be and what to do, the map will be incomplete and misleading.
If you want to achieve spiritual liberation, this ego-component matters greatly to the larger picture. Because if we in this light take a look at the previously established components, we find that the “instant gratification monkey” isn’t necessarily the villain in this scenario at all, but in fact the hero.
What the instant gratification monkey personifies within a context of spiritual liberation is in actuality: our intuition and integrity. I say this based on what ten years of having dedicated my life to reach my true expression as a being, by living honestly and authentically, has revealed for me. The countless moments of procrastination of my life haven’t been my weakest moments at all. They have rather been a byproduct of my intuition and integrity fighting my inauthentic, scared little ego the only way they know how: by not doing what it says.
The reason it sometimes turns into a seemingly pointless waste of time is because the ignorant egoic mind often resides in a state of hyperactive stress. It doesn’t know how to cope with the situation when our deeper intuition and integrity refuses to comply with its egoic agendas, and thus it often just turns into us ‘wasting time’ in order to deal with this stressful confusion.
Procrastination as we know it isn’t a result of us being weak, that has to be fought and overcome. It’s a symptom of us longing for freedom from our egoic ignorance and conditioning, that needs to be acknowledged as such and deeply reflected upon.
We don’t procrastinate because there’s a bad monkey running the show in our mind, which we need to domesticate through being “a rational decision maker”. We procrastinate because our intuition and integrity is trying to tell us that what we’re doing is inauthentic and unaligned with our natural, spontaneous expression as a being.
In the second part of the article, Tim talks about a special place called “flow”, which you sometimes can get lucky and get to visit. That place, however, isn’t that special at all within the context of spirituality. It’s the natural state of being that you end up in when you find yourself free from egoic conditioning and inauthentic movement. And so what I’m saying is that if you’re stuck in “the dark playground”, procrastinating, and “flow” sounds good, the real solution is not to head into the dark forrest and hope for the best – it’s to turn around and have a look at yourself. At what you’re doing and why. Because frankly, the reason you’re stuck procrastinating is that you’re lying to yourself.
Your intuition and integrity knows this. That’s why you’re not doing what your egoically conditioned mind says to do – why you aren’t listening to “the rational decision maker” inside of you. Because that’s not who you are. Not what you truly wish to be doing. It’s not a reflection or embodiment of your authentic expression as a being – which, if that would be embodied, would leave you doing what you want completely effortlessly and spontaneously, living a life that feels honest and just “right”, whatever its shape or form.
I haven’t yet mentioned “the panic monster” component of the original article. That’s because once you start transitioning from egoic to authentic movement, you’re no longer at the mercy of specific outcomes or time schedules. And because of it, there’s just no panic monster around anymore.
Now, I make some pretty big assertions here, but I don’t mean to give the impression that I’ve reached a complete end in my own journey with this. To transition from ignorant, egoic, conditioned mind into your authentic, natural, spontaneous movement as a being, is a big undertaking, and it’s probably a life-long journey of challenging ups and downs. I still find myself procrastinating, wasting time doing pointless things now and then. But it’s a lot less often now a days than what it used to be, and the difference now is that when it happens, I know that it’s happening because something is holding me back, making me feel stressed.
What I do then is to just pay attention and flow with it. I don’t necessarily need to do anything about it at all. I know from experience that if I just let my intuition and integrity guide me, then whatever constitutes the egoic entrapment will all naturally be revealed and get taken care of in due time, however is necessary. And through that, the activity of procrastination will cease as it won’t get triggered anymore.