Last night in the kitchen (the kitchen of the commune in which I still live, at least for the next three weeks) I was having a conversation with a housemate. We were talking about self-sabotaging behaviors, mine in question was procrastination on a specific project at work. I’d struggled with procrastination all the way through two graduate degrees and beyond and never quite mastered it, you see, though it had been getting much better. Okay, slightly better.

The gentleman I was discussing this with had his own self-sabotaging behaviors that he shared, though he balked at the word ‘sabotage’ on the basis that the behaviors weren’t conscious, so they couldn’t be actual sabotage – sabotage implies consent and intention.

But here’s how I see it:

My procrastination is a coping mechanism for when I feel overwhelmed. Now, I used to feel overwhelmed because I wasn’t actually capable of finishing successfully, or didn’t have all the information and data and didn’t know how to ask for it. Now, I feel overwhelmed because it’s really important and it could affect a lot of people’s lives in really incredible and positive ways… but I know I’m up to the challenge, I know I have all the resources I need. But my coping mechanism is going to protect me at all costs. 

And what is the cost, in this case? What is being sabotaged by this behavior? Not my current sense of self. That’s what’s being protected at all costs. It’s my vision of who I want to be. The ways I’ve articulated, the list of attributes that I’m working steadily toward that include things like joyful, enlightened, following my bliss, loving, grounded, influential, a change agent, deeply peaceful, inspirational. This is what is at risk for sabotage because my coping mechanism is willing to protect my current being at all costs. And in this case, the cost is who I want to be. I sabotage my future and desired self when I pull this sort of thing.

So it stops now. :) And it’s a lovely feeling, being free of it.