We already know that anxiety can lead us to put off till tomorrow things that we would most probably be better to accomplish without delay. We have seen as well that our anxiety-creating belief in some potential danger or inconvenience is responsible for our procrastination.
Among the dangers we fear lies the one of being blamed or disapproved of by others. As a matter of fact, when we believe that we absolutely need the love and approval of some people to be happy, we tend to postpone indefinitely actions that seem likely—at least, in our opinion—to bring about the disapproval and rejection of these people.
It is clear that the disapproval and rejection of some people will possibly cause us more or less serious inconveniences. For example, if John displeases his boss, he could very well be shown the door and get fired. If, while in the court room, Mary displeases the judge, the sentence she is likely to get could be much heavier. If Jerry displeases his wife on a regular basis, it would not be surprising for her to leave him once and for good.
Needless to say it is fully appropriate for us to assess the possible consequences of the actions we are planning to take, on the one hand, and to postpone or even give up the ones that runs the risk of bringing about the costly disapproval and rejection of specific persons, on the other hand.
That being said, let’s also keep in mind that the disapproval and rejection of some people will only cause us minor negative consequences—and sometimes, no negative consequence at all. As a matter of fact, even if we are given the opportunity to meet lots of people during our lifetime, most of them will have almost no real influence on our lives.
For example, if John only uses his hands to eat a copious meal in a fancy restaurant, he will most probably be scorned and disapproved of by a crowd of strangers having noticed his bad manners and eccentric behavior. But so what? Unless one of these strangers finally gets up and goes directly to John’s table in order to snatch his napkin and give him a slap in the face, John will suffer no inconvenience at all from the disapproval and rejection of this crowd of strangers. It is clear that these strangers do not like John—at least, not in this present moment. But, on the other hand, hasn’t John lived without the love and approval of these strangers all the years of his life without suffering a split second about it? This is not to say that John despises the love and approval of these strangers; but if they refuse to provide him with their love and approval, John will not be worse for that.
Now let’s apply the above example to our tendency to procrastinate. Isn’t it true that we put things off till tomorrow because we are afraid that if we do them, we will run the risk of being disapproved of and rejected by some people? It is up to us to ask ourselves whether or not we really need the love and approval of these people to live happily and to calculate the price we will have to pay in order to get them.
© Chantal Beaupre 2011
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