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Why You Can’t Stop Procrastinating (Healing Your Life, Part 2)

If you’re here, it’s probable that you procrastinate.  In Part 1 of this mini-series, I shared what makes change so hard for us.  If you haven’t read that article yet, go ahead and start there.  

That article exposed that change itself actually isn’t hard, but we make it hard because of the story we tell ourselves.  

And while there are many stories we tell, we have one main one I call our ‘Core Story’ – it is usually limiting, and tends to be locked in at childhood.  And it can stay with us through our entire lives…

Unless we wake up and take full responsibility for rewriting it.

But you may have convinced yourself that your “small life” is okay.  That you don’t really need or even deserve more than what you have right now.

In fact, the question for you may be: Is it really worth all the work?

Take a Deeper Look: How Much Does Your Core Story Limit You?

There are two big fears that are practically encoded in our DNA, that all of us share in our core story, until we take the time to become aware and resolve them.

  1. We are instilled with a deep fear of failure – whether you’ve seen that in yourself or not, it’s probably true.

See, for much of human beings’ existence, we were deeply connected to our tribe.  Being rejected by our community in it’s worst sense, meant death.

If we were a hunter, and we weren’t terribly good at hunting, our food might be given away to the more successful hunters.  Or we might be outright rejected by our community.  Suddenly we’d have to rely entirely on ourselves to survive.

In a time when having a “sick day” might have meant getting eaten, failing and ultimately being abandoned would be terribly frightening.

If we failed at things, we may be rejected from the tribe.

So, of course we feared failing.  In fact, this fear of failure was an evolutionary advantage.  It kept us vigilant, and productive.

But now as a society with 24 hour grocery stores and online shopping, we’ve moved past fearing for our survival when we’re alone, but we haven’t lost this fear of failure.  And it’s becoming less and less of a evolutionary advantage all the time.

  1. The really hard one for people to get their heads around is another, seemingly different fear – the fear of success.  

We all like to claim that we don’t have this one, but look closer, it takes many forms:  

  • You may be concerned that making too much money will isolate you from your friends and family.  
  • You may think that being successful requires such extreme hard work and dedication that you’ll lose all your loved ones.  
  • You may even believe that if you achieve success, you won’t be able to maintain it, and you’ll plunge your whole family into chaos.

Success is scary for many of us.  And since it’s something most of us also clearly want, we end up with unconscious “value conflicts” which lead to frustration and self sabotage as we attempt to grow and succeed.

So our core story end up with a narrative that tells us how successful we’re supposed to be, and how much we deserve and can maintain.  

We instinctively don’t want to be too far ahead, or too far behind.

The fear of success points to the same primal instinct as the fear of failure – stay with your tribe!  

Your core story says things like, “I’m not enough” and “the world isn’t safe” as a way to keep you content with your tribe, safe and alive.  

It’s a very effective survival mechanism – but again, survival isn’t as difficult as it used to be.  If you’re reading this, I imagine your more focused on thriving, than merely surviving.  

So what’s our usual response to a core story that’s telling us to stay small and not let anyone see our weaknesses?  What’s the very best way to stay safe?

PROCRASTINATE!

Performing badly (and sometimes performing too well) means abandonment and that fear of loss/death again to the more primitive part of your brain.  

So our subconscious goes to work looking for reasons to avoid performing at all.

Every reason we imagine or create that prevents us from performing is one more opportunity to NOT perform badly

And we end up with a psychological version of our own identity that is inflated (just how we like it).

Face it, Have you said things like this before?

  • My job performance would be incredible if I was more organized.
  • I would have done way better on that test if I hadn’t waited until the night before to study.  
  • I could have gotten that promotion if I applied for it, but I don’t really need the extra money.

I hope it’s starting to make more sense why you use these excuses.  If not, I’ve written before about “the formula that causes us to procrastinate” here: Self Worth = Ability = Performance.  Check that out to go deeper on this point.

By procrastinating, we can keep saying “I’m actually way better than this” without the chance of anyone finding out we might not be.

So procrastination isn’t something we do when we “don’t want success bad enough” or we’re “just lazy.”  Procrastination isn’t even something we do consciously most of the time.  

Procrastination is our subconscious mind’s way of keeping us safe and alive.  And while it also might be keeping you miserable and unsuccessful, it’s actually doing one job amazingly well.

As angry as you might be, it’s worth thanking your subconscious for doing its job.  Acknowledge the hard work it’s doing to keep you alive, accept that it’s only doing what it has been evolutionarily programmed to do, and then move on.

What’s So Bad About Playing It Safe?

Look, there’s a pretty obvious solution, so I’ll get that out of the way first:

Keep procrastinating.

You stay safe, nothing really gets that much better or worse, and one day – sooner or later – you die.

You never accomplish your big goals, you’re never fully present with your loved ones, and you never bring about substantial change in the world on the issues that really matter to you.

Hell, you may never even figure out what really matters to you at all.  You’ll just drift through life and let your fears control you.

Or…

You’ll realize that this S#%! has been going on long enough, that it’s not going to get better until you invest in yourself, and that everyone you know has been waiting for you to step up and commit to rewiring this core story you’ve unconsciously created.

Here’s the deal:

Your new core story can be one that doesn’t carry your current fears and limitations.  One that takes real action on evoking massive change in your life and this world.  

It can be about how you are a badass entrepreneur who loves blowing past failure and gets stronger and stronger with every business move.

It can be about how you are the most loving parent or partner, and you always respond with kindness and compassion.

It can be about how you are creating a world where no one else ever has to experience the deep pain that you experienced as a child.

It can be about anything you decide.

And as you change your core story, your experience of yourself and the world will change dramatically.  The behaviors you want are baked into this new story that’s running your new reality.  Changing your core story is the fastest way to change YOU.

While the choice to do this work is yours, please remember – this isn’t dress rehearsal.  

You only get one shot at this.  You have to decide if and when you’re ready to change…but when you do decide to change, know that it can happen in an instant.

(It’s called Identity Shifting and you can learn more about that over here.)

My Final Point is This

This work I’m talking about is scary.  It’s the exact kind of thing you may choose to procrastinate on.

But don’t do that.

If you feel called to do this work, DO IT.  Find a trusted mentor, a therapist, read books – whatever.  Just don’t procrastinate on this.  There’s nothing more important you can do.

 

How Your Limiting Beliefs Keep You Safe… And Miserable

Imagine this scenario: You are a successful business owner or corporate employee. You’ve been working hard and putting in more hours every year but you never have much to show for it. Your income never grows, but your debt just keeps climbing.  You are exhausted and stressed and you don’t see any way you could work any harder.

When you lie awake in bed at night, you start asking yourself, “Why me?” You wonder what’s wrong with you that keeps you from getting your life together.  Why are so many peers doing better?

Here are just a few of the things I hear my clients say about themselves:

  • “I am no good.”
  • “I will never be able to change”
  • “life will never get better”
  • “my body is disgusting”
  • “nobody will ever love me”
  • “I don’t deserve to have what I really want”
  • “I’m not worthy of anything”
  • “I actually hate myself…”

Can you imagine speaking to a co-worker or child like that everyday?  And if you did, would you expect them to perform well or have stellar behavior?

When we narrate our own lives with this kind of language, is it really any surprise that we can’t ever seem to profoundly change?

Changing How You Think Will Change Your Life

Look, we all want to feel happy and fulfilled in our lives. To do that we have to understand and change how we make meaning. And we have to learn where these beliefs about ourselves come from to begin with.

If you pay close attention to what I’m about to share with you, you will learn the ability to make new meaning which will allow you to move past your limiting beliefs.  You’ll gain deep clarity with zero illusions.  This is like getting the ‘keys to the kingdom’ of creating happiness and fulfillment in your life.  But tools aren’t enough, you first have to be open to change.

How We Make Meaning

Our ancestors had less choices when it came to truth and beliefs1.  If they were walking back to their tribe through a field of tall grass and they heard  a rustle, they could assume, “That’s just wind,” and keep on walking…or they could worry “That’s a tiger!” and go home the longer but safer route.

Even if they guessed correctly some of the time, the people who thought “it’s just the wind” were going to be wrong eventually, and that was the end of their blood line.  But the people who thought there was a tiger even when there wasn’t still got home safely, even if there was never any real threat.  And while there may have been a small cost of going the longer way home, they got to live, and they passed on their genes and teachings to us.

That means we’ve actually been bred to make meaning that keeps us safe. We actually seek patterns in every situation because those patterns are what’s kept us alive for thousands of years.

The problem is when you identify patterns – especially about yourself – that aren’t true at all:  I can’t dance, dieting doesn’t work for me, I’ll always be poor…  

Just like believing there’s a tiger waiting in the grass for you, these beliefs can seem to keep you safe, even when they’re wrong.  

Wrong Beliefs Are Dangerous

Let’s be clear, even if they do keep you safe, your negative beliefs will fail miserably at helping you feel happy, confident, and fulfilled in your life.  

You see, a belief is simply taking an opinion and treating it as a truth.  Beliefs are everywhere and they are incredibly powerful – they can be motivating when they are useful, but they can be downright dangerous when they aren’t.

Let’s imagine a woman who was told in middle school that she “looks fat in that outfit.”  I can’t tell you how many clients of mine have this kind of experience.  And what happens is that the embarrassment of that moment creates a pattern to not believe we are attractive.  Staying ‘safe’ becomes believing we are unattractive.

The cost of believing we are unattractive is huge, yet it’s a way our system keeps us safe. If we stop standing out, risking things with trendy clothes, etc. – we can avoid ever being embarrassed like that again.

One… simple… comment… can have a lifetime of negative effect.

Look back at that list of common negative self talk – do you say any of those things to yourself?  Take a few moments to consider the negative things you say about yourself on any given day.

Now, can you honestly say that those are true?  Or have you just formed an opinion – maybe because of things parents or peers said to you when you were younger – and since that opinion kept you ‘safe’ in some way, your subconscious went ahead and turned it into a belief.

Learn to Challenge Your Beliefs

You have to break the cycle of turning these patterns into beliefs.  And if you already have the limiting beliefs, you’re going to want to learn how to reverse them.  The simple way out is by learning to challenge the beliefs that are holding you back.  

If your brain says, “This is really hard, I’ll never get it done.”  Then you say, “Nah, this is easy. I got this.”

If your brain says, “I’ll never have real money.”  Then you say, “I wonder how I can GROW my wealth this month.”

It’s so simple, but until we shift our identity it takes commitment.  It takes doing this same process over and over again, day in and day out, until it becomes an unconscious habit (the identity shifts).

What Happens If You Master Meaning?

Recently I worked with a client who told herself that making more money in her business would make her life harder.  So she had a money ceiling – her belief was keeping her ‘safe’ from the complexity of a bigger life by preventing her from earning more money.  And because of this, she was stuck and getting deeper in debt.  

Simply learning to question the belief that more money would equal more problems has completely changed her income and business growth.  She’s paid off all her debts and is doing better and better every month.

But what if she’d held on to that belief that money just complicated her life?  How much time and energy and money (that she didn’t have) would she have wasted on workshops and books and tools – only to sabotage her results and keep the ‘less money is better’ story alive?  

Strategies and tactics wouldn’t do anything for her until she eliminated the limiting belief. And they won’t do anything for you until you eliminate the beliefs that are fighting to keep you ‘safe,’ but are actually sabotaging your goals.

Next Steps

I hope this is all you need to begin identifying your ‘truths’ that are really just beliefs, and to then begin challenging those beliefs in the moments when they hold you back.

Some beliefs are easier to challenge than others.  Some are so deeply ingrained in us, that we might need some mental power tools to get to the root of it.

But I want you to have some fun with this.  You’re embarking on a huge shift in your life – it’s intense – but it doesn’t have to be hard.  You can enjoy it and make it a game to uncover all the old beliefs that have been holding you back for years.

Remember, this isn’t about forcing old habits onto your current identity – this is about completely shifting the way you see yourself and the world. It’s about permanent change through shifting your identity.

And once you’ve got your new identity locked in, overturning limiting beliefs won’t be a decision you need to make in the moment…it will just be a normal part of your day. Making positive meaning can become totally automatic for you.

 


  1. This example comes from author Dr. Michael Shermer. For more on his concept of “patternicity,” check out the book How We Believe.

Rob Scott – Talks at Google

I want to share something amazing with you. I recently took a cross country trip to do something I’ve never done before.

I was invited to give a “Talk at Google,” which is kind of like a Ted Talk but, you know, at Google. So, I had the chance to present “my material” to an audience of Google employees – right inside their main office.

What’s it like being right in the heart of Google? Amazing, actually. There’s video conferencing screens on virtually every wall. The vibe is incredibly cerebral, everyone deep in thought and focused on their work, obviously doing cool stuff. Food pods seem to be every 30 yards or so, and they have workout space that has to rival NFL pro teams. I was blown away.

Here’s the video to check out my talk (please jump over to Youtube, like it, and comment when you check it out):

There’s no question that Google is at the forefront of the movement for a more connected planet. They’re driving massive changes right now in how human beings interact with one another in the outside world.

So I was incredibly excited to talk with them about how we make internal change happen.

If you’ve been following my stuff at all, you know I’m a huge advocate for finding fulfillment and mastering our inner game while making external changes. Why? Because our potential for success is ultimately limited by our beliefs and our internal view of the world.

Our ability to impact and improve the world around us is hugely impacted by our control over our own mental state. The less freedom you have over the choices you make, the less good you’ll be able to do for others.

Here’s the promise I made to the people at Google:

“You all want to make a difference… This time should make a difference. So let’s open to the possibility that this talk could profoundly change you.”

Listen, I know you’re busy just like all those Googlers. So I’ll make the same promise to you…

Set your intention for change when you carve out the space to watch this. Get rid of all your distractions just for an hour or so. Bring your full awareness to this, and get ready to begin your journey toward a deeply fulfilling and productive life.

Please let me know how it goes for you in the comments. And if you want to know more about “Identity Shifting,” check out what’s going on over here: http://identityshifting.com.

PS – OK, I can’t not share this. I met a lot of cool people at Google, but one of the coolest had to be Chade-Meng Tan. He’s Google’s “Jolly Good Fellow” (yes, that’s his actual job title) and just got nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize! I definitely recommend you check him out. Just Google him ;)

Meng and Rob at Google

Meng and Rob at Google

Mind Tricks – Freedom Fast Lane interview

I was recently interviewed by the great Ryan Daniel Moran over at Freedom Fast Lane.

No hype at all when I say this was one of the most succinct and useful talks I’ve ever been a part of.  Tons of tips and tricks, including:

  • The single most important thing to master in life (period)
  • 3 steps to changing your brain
  • And how to massively overcome any and all odds against you

Ryan is one of my favorite people in the world, and I highly recommend checking out his podcast, and anything that guy touches.

Pop on over to hear our interview as soon as you can.

Check Out My “Change Your Story” Mix from Dharma Mix

If you haven’t checked it out, you need to know about Dharma Mix. These guys put inspiring messages to really cool beats so that we can soak ourselves in higher kinds of messaging.

I got a chance to do the voice over on one of their mixes, and I chose to do it on “Changing Your Story”. So many of us have bad stories going on in our thinking. Things like limiting beliefs, horrible opinions about ourselves, etc. I call all those things stories, because I think it helps us realize that we can change these things. When we realize we can change our beliefs by telling ourself a new story, massive change becomes possible.

So, one of the biggest things we can do as developing humans is learn to manage the story we’re telling ourself. I hope you download this “Fundamental Shift mix” that my buddy Jaya at DharmaMix.com mixed for me. Use it to help change your story, and click here to sign up for your free media vitamins from Dharma Mix right now.

And Be well!

Learn To Surrender

Surrender means to give oneself over to something. The type of surrender I’m discussing in this talk is not a sign of weakness, in fact, it might be the greatest sign of strength. The ego doesn’t usually like to hear about giving in or surrendering, but one of the greatest teachings we can learn is to surrender.

This practice is learning to allow your ego to surrender to what is. No experience is bad when we learn to drop the conflict around a situation. That conflict is the ego’s desire for things to be other than they are. Surrendering to what is is the dropping of the ego for true experience.

Surrender implies awareness, because we need to know what to surrender to. Learn to ask yourself what you’re feeling, that brings about awareness. Then the trick is allowing yourself to be the thing you’ve become aware of, to be what you feel. Often this will seem counter intuitive: I don’t want to be sadness; I don’t want to be anger; I don’t want to be cold. But learning to be these things, even when that isn’t what you want to be, is true surrender. It is waking up to be what you are. That is surrender, and it can change your life.

[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/robscott-audio/LearnToSurrender.mp3]

You Can’t Kill God

This is a talk about fear and fear based teaching.

Any teacher that offers fear should be watched very closely.  There is nothing to fear.  You cannot kill god.  The death of bird, the Exxon spill, 911, tsunami’s and hurricanes, all of it can’t kill god.  We may not understand it, but it is OK.  Even the extinction of the human race can’t kill god.

If we can learn to identify with god-consciousness, we will see that we are a part of the whole.  That realization allows us to not fear things.  We are temporary, but we are part of the infinite.  All things in the infinite will change, but the infinite itself is timeless.

The idea that we need to save the planet is quite funny.  What we really feel is the need to save ourselves.  When we set up the idea that we need protection, we introduce the birth of fear.

The planet will be just fine whether we litter a five feet deep layer on it, or blow craters the size of Texas in the side of it.  It will be fine.  It’s us who feel we need the protecting.  Wild life extincts itself and yet new species are born.  Change is constant.  I’m not at all saying we should try to extinct things, but as we do, we don’t kill god.

Leave a plot of earth barren or in any horribly assaulted condition and eventually life will come back to it.  We’re getting better at making it barren for longer periods of time, but we still can’t stop life.  Life wants to come forth.  And so it will.  There is nothing to fear.

Fear based teachings aren’t helpful.  We need to learn to grow past fear.  “Bad” actions, like mistakes and killing things come from a fear based mind.  If we open to a fearless state of mind, we will make better choices.  Not a reckless state of mind, but a truly fearless one.

There has always been catastrophic things to fear.  War, famine, sickness, nuclear attacks, etc.  Our current struggles are nothing new.  They won’t end until we evolve past the idea of fear.

We all die, and need to learn not to fear that.  But we most importantly need to learn to live.  The illusion is that we’re not OK.  This world is perfect as it is.  This moment never has anything wrong with it.
Referenced: Tao Te Ching #46

Discussion on Beliefs

A discussion of the importance in understanding what beliefs are and how they affect us. Beliefs are the filter we see our world through. We need to begin understanding their use.

Three ways to perceive the world: Truth, opinion, and belief. Truth is what is. Opinion is when we make a judgment of a truth and take a separate stance on the truth. Beliefs are when we erroneously treat opinions as truths.

There are many facets to life. There are levels of intention and perspective. Opinions can be used effectively to enhance performance on some of these levels. Referenced Ken Wilber’s book No Boundary about boundaries of self – body, ego, persona.

Beliefs are the most powerful ideas there are. Every war has been fought because of beliefs.

How do we watch beliefs? One way is with meditation. Beginning that is to watch when we get upset. That tells us that we are bumping into a belief we have.

Referenced: Ken Wilber