Overcoming procrastination using ILP, AQAL, IOS

Hi everyone,

I have been struggling with procrastination for a long time. I have been avoiding completing personal projects, writing books for instance, Due to these being non-career projects, it means there is no enforced deadline or external accountability. Despite practicing mindfulness and lots of willpower boosting techniques, my procrastination feels like somewhat intractable at times. What do you do to overcome procrastination? What aspects of AQAL, ILP you have found helped you overcome the resistance to do your project? I would love to hear some of the techniques or books that you have used to help you avoid shirking off completion of complex and challenging project.

thank you

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Hello sheekus. I don’t know if this will be helpful to you or not, but sometimes, giving power to one’s decisions rather than to one’s will can be useful. It’s not necessary to feel motivated in order to act would be the necessary belief to hold. A decision alone can get you started, if you let go the idea/belief that you must feel motivated (i.e. some kind of desire or impetus or drive or excitement or passion, or willfulness, etc.) in order to do something/act. You can experiment with this, see if/how it works for you. Sometimes resistance melts and the will just naturally follows and builds once a decision is firmly made and acted upon.

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Good advice, LaWanna. Another thing is to create external accountability. Ask someone to read your chapter and tell them you’ll have it to them on x date. I’m writing a book myself and that has worked for me. The book is nearly finished. Do things collaboratively so someone is waiting for your contribution. Join a writing group. Don’t beat yourself up for not doing something difficult without some scaffolding.

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I have a short course here on procrastination here. https://transformationteaching.mykajabi.com/store/7pzTofDA

In Dr. Karen Horney’s book Neurosis and Human Growth: The struggle toward self-realization
She says,

To the extent that we take our growth seriously, it will be because of our own desire to do so. And as
we lose the neurotic obsession with self, as we become free to grow ourselves, we also free ourselves to love and to feel concern for other people. We will then want to give them the opportunity for unhampered growth when they are young, and to help them in whatever way possible to find and realize themselves when they are blocked in their development. At any rate, whether for ourselves or for others, the ideal is the liberation and cultivation of the forces which lead to self-realization.

I’m with the understanding that procrastination is merely a symptom -one of many- to the main problem. Namely, that all this talk about integral, meditation, and all the rest, our level of self realization still remains unrealized. By Dr. Horney’s (horn eye) understanding, our neurotic obsession with self is the major culprit. So how do we lose our neurotic obsession with self? Is there a specific kind of psychotherapy that addresses it directly? Is neuroticism confined within our shadow? I recall Dr. Miles Neale, a contemplative psychotherapist, who said in one of his videos rather nonchalantly that most of us on the spiritual path are not going to reach enlightenment. I was disappointed by that comment but I believe he’s being realistic. While it’s fun and thought provoking to talk about all things integral, how many more lectures, books, and seminars do we have to go through if we have not yet lost our neurotic obsession with self? Spiritual bypassing anyone? Even Dr. Susan Cook Greuter has misgivings about our overvaluation with integral theories.

We hear a lot about shadow in the integral movement -fine- but bothers me to no end that no one -as far as I know- is telling us HOW to deal with it head on. For Christ sake, what are the means by which we can free ourselves from shadow hence our neurotic obsession with self? Let me hear from those who achieved it instead of those talking about it ad nausaum. I’m with the understanding that, by addressing our neuroticism as Dr. Horney defined it, it has a cathartic hence redeeming effect on our emotional and psychological well being. It brings us to a higher stage of emotional and psychological development that makes ending procrastination -among other bad habits- practically effortless. Isn’t this what we are after? But how can we if we are too busy seeking enlightenment? Maybe I’m mistaken but I don’t think we’ve earned it! It seems to me that it’s harder to grow up than it is to wake up and I don’t think we are doing enough on how to address the former. We have meditation retreats
ad nausaum but where are the retreats on how to grow the hell up!? If post traumatic growth is real -as I believe it is- where are the individuals who experienced it? I’d like to hear what they have to say and not some guru preaching the word of enlightenment as everyone looks in awe believing they too can become enlightened. It’s pathetic!

I recall Dr. Susan Cook Greuter who said in her leadership maturity lecture that when you are at the stage of construct aware (shown below) you enter a stage of existential depression because that is the process we must go through for healthy ego development i.e. growing up. From my own experience from heartache and loss, it takes a lot of humility and courage to mourn the loss of our culturally conditions illusions because they are so deeply entrenched. But dealing with it is the only way to lose our neurotic obsession with self. Why do I feel mad as hell that the Integral movement is not dealing with this with the attention it deserves? Whose the crazy one? Carl Jung said

“We are on guard against contagious diseases of the body, but we are careless when it comes to the even more dangerous collective diseases of the mind.”

I believe our neurotic obsession with self is a psychological disease must be dealt with provided our objective is to rise above procrastination and any others character defects you can think of.

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Thank you LaWanna for your advice.
Despite reading all of KW’s books, knowing about integral for nearly 15 years, and trying to incorporate practice of ILP and mindfulness, I definitely needed to read up dozens more books on procrastination, willpower and personal motivation in order to find the HOW-TOs of overcoming procrastination. I agree that one of the essential strategy / or view is to realize that “emotion of motivation” is not necessary to work on important projects. Your purpose in life and fundamental values can enable you to “sit the ass down”, and work on the complex project even if the feeling of discomfort is present in the system. Like motivation(as a feeling), the feeling of lack of motivation is also temporary. Our purpose to do important work or to “self-actualize” however can be a source of energy to overcome resistance.
Thank you Lynn for your advice on external accountability. I tried that before many times, it hasn’t worked as well as I expected [perhaps a key reason is why because these people were just friends and family members who didn’t quite understand what I was trying to accomplish, so the shame that came from not meeting publicly announced deadline wasn’t quite compelling].
But after doing more deeper personal psychological analysis of why I procrastinate, I am trying accountability technique again with other people (via online) who share more of my values.

I agree that procrastination tends to be a symptom of some other psychological issue. I did think about it and self-analyzed for nearly 10 years, so I think for me, it is more my problem with internet addiction/over-use and my tendency to use the internet as coping mechanism for stress and mood-fixing. There are probably other psychological barriers such as the gap between aesthetic judgment and the quality of my output, and the emotional pain that results from that. It is always important to be reminded to adopt a growth mindset and break the habit of “fixed mindset”. I know everyone is different when it comes to the root psychological cause.

Thank you gnosisman, for your very powerful response to the topic. I definitely resonate with your perception that all this “integral theoretical talk” about maps of self-transformation lacks the “HOW-TO” components at a very fine and granular scale. I had to read dozens of books outside of the Integral theory in order to understand more deeply about procrastination, willpower, self-motivation, and persistence. Even when it comes to mindfulness, which is the moment-to-moment dissection of the urge to procrastinate and waste time, Integral Theory hasn’t quite discussed in detailed how to deal with it at an “industrial -strength level”. There definitely is a bit of too much “self-congratulations” about reaching the “2nd tier” talk, which can turn people not familiar with the integral jargons (like “green”, “turquoise”) off.

I was able to find a few frameworks outside of integral that I resonated with. Of course, these works lack the Map of Integral theory, which is very valuable to understanding the Big Picture. But when it comes to Detailed-Microscopic Picture, and actual step-by-step detailed execution, current Integral scene is indeed a little lacking. I would definitely love to see more materials published by writers in the integral circle on people’s conventional struggle with learning a skill like programming/machine-learning, learning high level science/math, starting/managing a challenging business, or finishing novels, books and complex art projects.

I definitely resonate with your writing about post-traumatic growth. I did experience a degree of trauma in my early teenage years. I think I am relatively integrated in that aspect—though there is always the possibility of fooling myself. I am grateful for the hardship I experienced early in life—after all, it was probably what drove me to read up on psychology, spirituality and philosophy and eventually Integral Theory.

For the most part, I am happy the vast majority of the time and I feel a life full of abundance, I am psychologically healthy, but I do have problem fulfilling my ambition—so in other words, self-actualize and truly grow to the next level.

Regarding dimensions of personal growth, I don’t know if it is really easier to wake up than grow up. There definitely are plenty of individuals who have “woken up” but are psychologically screwed up. (It just baffles my mind how somebody could spiritually “awakened” and struggle with alcohol problem—I would imagine with high level of mindfulness skill, addiction to alcohol should be relative easy to tackle. One of the thing that might have held back Integral a little from reaching more people in the general culture might have been some accusation against moral conduct of some of the teachers nominally associated with Integral). There are similarly individuals who have been able to complete challenging projects after projects, but do not seem to be concerned about exploring deeper level of awareness. [Elon Musk and Bill Gates come to mind]
Definitely once you reach a certain level, “waking up” and “growing up” are pretty hard. Another reason for those of us who have to live in urban life is because people around us are not really concerned about either, so this general apathy toward self-transformation due to the social environment is a kind of “social contagion” that gets unconsciously crept into our mind.

Regarding the shadow-integration, I do see 3-2-1 as a powerful technique. But there has to be more than that [I appreciate the possibility that my skill might not be yet high enough to maintain tackling of procrastination for an extended period]. I do feel that by going at our psychological “stuckness” from different angles through different techniques, no doubt, it will be a more tractable problem. I appreciate that Integral Life Practice does present lots of possibilities, I personally would like to see a very detailed follow up discussing and surveying nearly all the psycho-spiritual techniques in contemplative traditions and in the psychology book market—and how they connect.

After years of exploration, my procrastination habit has been chipped little by little over the years—though there is definitely still lots of work to do. Thank you all for the responses. It always feel wonderful to discuss with kindred- spirits. [I don’t know anybody personally who is aware of integral theory] I’d love to hear more from everyone on how you have tackled your procrastination on fulfilling your aspirations/ambitions. Or what techniques or books you have found helpful.

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Gamifying my life priorities and important projects makes me much more engaged with them. It gives me a great daily overview and it’s fun at the same time! It has also social accountability aspects and motivations. Although not for everyone, if you like to play RPGs I’d recommend to make your life one!