Should you feel shame when you’re procrastinating?

One thing I’ve noticed since I started Procrastination Coach, is that everybody procrastinates. Some seldom, some often. Some have their lives devoured by it, for others it’s just a slight nuisance. But everybody knows what procrastination is, and has experienced it first hand.

Feelings about procrastination

I feel the need to stress this, because of the second thing I noticed: that so many people are embarrassed about it. Ashamed. Or angry with themselves. They think it’s stupid to procrastinate, and feel stupid for doing it. They have self blame going on: “I should be able to not do this. I should be able to control myself more, I should be…”.

Causes of procrastination

If you’re one of those people, I may have good news for you. Procrastination has many different roots. Like biological roots. Your genetic inheritance, your body and your brain influence whether you procrastinate and how much. Social environments play a role in it: your family history, the culture you’re living in, your social relationships. For example, people with low self esteem are more likely to procrastinate, because they have low confidence in succeeding. Can you see how environment influences people’s self esteem?

This example points towards another root of procrastination: emotions. Feelings like doubts and fears, but also hopes, memories and dreams. And I haven’t even mentioned how people perceive time, another root…

Where to start?

Procrastination is probably more intricate than you ever imagined. So where is the good news? You may feel that it looked easier when you thought it was ‘just’ you. Now that there turns out to be a field of roots, where do you start weeding? And no, I’m not going to suggest you’ll all have to hire a procrastination coach as a gardener 🙂 I think it’s a good idea to start looking at your garden before you do anything. The exercise I posted last week, could be a good place to start.

Do not be ashamed

There is no reason to feel shame when you’re procrastinating. So it’s time to be nicer to yourself. Is there any embarrassment, shame, self blame,  anger or criticism you can let go off? Keep your frustration though. It may be a helpful guide or a driving force for a while. You’ll need perseverance to get out of your old habits and form new ones.

(If you want to leave a reply – and please do!- you’ll find the button at the top of this post.)

6 thoughts on “Should you feel shame when you’re procrastinating?

  1. Joanne McAlpine (@BroadcastSunny)

    Although I am typically an open book, I feel hesitant about sharing my results from last week’s exercise. I’ll say this, I found the exercise help say out loud what I already knew. When I completed one task, I feel a bit lost of where to go next. I flounder and that’s when I’m vulnerable and likely to do activities that procrastinates getting to that higher goal.


  2. Angela van Son Post author

    Joanne you set a great example of sharing combined with guarding your privacy. If you like you can send me an e-mail with what you rather not share on the worldwide web.


  3. Angela van Son Post author

    I think it’s great you’ve done the exercise.

    I recognize the procrastination moment you describe, that happens to me too. I’m not sure when it does and when it doesn’t. I hope the procrastination jar will give me more insight in that.


  4. patti miller

    I love this blog, Angela. Thanks!

    I found the exercise very enlightening. I don’t know why its difficult to look at and accept ourselves without judging. What is our expectation? Perfection? While I was beating myself up – i had to remind myself that i’m usually doing my best. When i’m not, i try and make adjustments.
    I also had the same ‘after’ experience Joanne describes. The adjustment I made there was in my weekly and daily planning. It helps me put ‘first things first’ when it’s already been laid out on my calendar (which i see more as a map.).


  5. lorettaschoettler

    I agree that shame is not useful, and may be central to the habit of procrastination. It’s better to just gfet to the root of what is getting in the way, deal with it and then get to work!


  6. The Woodland Elf

    I’ll admit to being one of those people who gets angry with myself when I procrastinate. Mostly it’s because I know I should be doing something that has to be done anyway, but when it’s something I really don’t want to do, I’ll find any excuse I can not to do it. And then when it’s time to end that day, I realize what I HAVEN’T gotten done, and I get angry with myself for not doing it.



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