Procrastination: The Tyrant and the Rebel

If you’ve been paying attention to current events, you’ve noticed that wherever there is a tyrant, sooner or later you find a rebel.

Believe it or not, if you have a problem with procrastination, you’ve got a tyrant and a rebel inside of you. That is the cause of your difficulty with getting things done.

Do you ever hear that voice in your head telling you to get your act together, but somehow it doesn’t seem to make a difference? You hit the snooze alarm one more time, put off that school paper, that phone call, that tedious chore. You promise yourself you’ll go on that diet, quit smoking, start working out – tomorrow. But tomorrow never comes. How come?

Well, if you pay attention, you might notice that the voice in your head telling you to get your act in gear is pretty harsh. He’s probably calling you names – lazy, stupid, stuff like that. He figures if he just kicks your keister hard enough you’ll listen. He’s tough, but it never works. And here’s why. Cause there’s another voice inside your head. And this guy says, “yeah, I know you’re right. I really should. Buuuuuuuuuuuuuht . . .” Then he scratches his fat stomach, yawns, and rolls over and with a big smile on his face takes a snooze.

Let’s call the first guy your inner tyrant. Let’s call the second guy your inner rebel. We respond to the inner tyrant just like we’d respond to an outer one. We wouldn’t want to get into a fight with the guy, so we yes him to death, and then do whatever we want when he’s not looking. If somebody is yelling at you to quit drinking, the typical human response is going to be, “screw you buddy!” as you kick down a double. The rebel may not run the place, but he always wins.

The problem is, you end up not getting anything done, which gives the tyrant an excuse to put his boot on your neck by making you feel like crap about yourself. So we end up with a Libyan standoff. The rebel passively refuses to do what the tyrant wants. The tyrant makes the rebel feel terrible. The rebel can’t get the tyrant to back off, the tyrant can’t get the rebel to do what he’s supposed to. What do you end up with? Procrastination.

So what’s the solution? You need couples therapy all for yourself. The problem is, you can’t kill the tyrant or exile him to Egypt. He lives inside of you. The rebel isn’t going anywhere either. So these guys need to learn to get along. Maybe if the two of you can have a civilized conversation you can work something out and turn your inner government into a democracy.

Dr. Glenn Berger is a psychotherapist, relationship counselor, business and artist’s coach, and young person’s mentor. He sees patients in New York City, in Mt. Kisco, NY, and around the world by Skype.

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