Procrastination & other expressions of anxiety

Before I get into my diatribe, I have to share this joke:  I’ve been meaning to post about procrastination but never got around to it…

I’ve had a problem with procrastination all my life.  I remember as a child staying up late many nights doing homework that had to be turned in the next day.  But I’ve never understood why I procrastinate.  I’ve always felt powerless trying to overcome it.

Recently, my therapist and I have touched on my issues with procrastination while discussing other stuff.  Her comments have prompted me to dig a little deeper into why I procrastinate and it looks like the more detrimental episodes of procrastination result from anxiety and avoiding stuff that provokes anxiety.

That makes sense historically; I remember one term in college where I flunked one course where the final grade was determined by the term project and another class that I got a C because the final grade was split 50/50 between exams and homework.  I was so anxious about my homework that I couldn’t bring myself to go in the labs to work on it. My grades mystified my professors and teaching assistants.  My exam scores were so much higher than everyone else’s, they deformed the curve so much it couldn’t be used to assign grades across the class.  Given my exam grades, they couldn’t fathom how I could possibly earn only a C final grade for the course.  If I turned in virtually any homework, I ought to have a B and given that I could score so high on the exams, I couldn’t possibly be that wrong on the homework.  The problem was that I couldn’t get myself to do the homework – My anxiety made it impossible to face the labs where it’s done.

This is a very insidious kind of problem to have because if something provokes anxiety, procrastinating  about it will make the problem worse which will cause even more anxiety.   It’s a vicious circle that starts almost before you know it; certainly before you can head it off.

I’ve been trying to think of ways to help me derail the procrastination when it becomes a problem.  But I haven’t come up with anything that will work in spite of the anxiety that triggers the procrastination.  So I’ll explore ways to deflate my anxiety that might enable me to oversome the resulting procrastination.  It seems like the anxiety is a bigger nut to crack than procrastination.  But it seems that I can’t face the procrastination when I’m severely anxious.  So I need to defuse the anxiety so that I have a clear enough mind to handle the procrastination.

Solving this problem might also help my daughter that appears to have inherited my anxiety tendencies.  Her anxieties can completely overwhelm her so much that she can’t get out of bed. Now that I see my own anxieties inside me, I need to let her know that she’s not alone, it’s not her failing and she can find a way to be okay with it in the long run.

George Clooney received Cecil B DeMille Award at the 2015 Golden Globes

Check out his excellent acceptance speech:

http://youtu.be/j7I1i9Ysncc

I think he hit every possible point, from thanking the Hollywood Foreign Press to commiserating with the other attendees, 80% of whom will be “losers” tomorrow. pushing for support of “small” films, highlighting the “Je suis Charlie” campaign supporting free speech and of course telling his new wife how much he loves her.

Was Ronald Reagan this smooth in his Hollywood days? Despite Clooney’s protestations, I think he would do very well in politics.

Found a photographer I like…

baybridgeatnightcpleblow had this picture of the Bay Bridge at night featured as the background of the tumblr login page.  That lead me to his tumblr blog and other photos he’s posted.  I don’t know how good he is but I like a lot of what I’ve seen, especially his shots of the Bay Area skyline.

My New Years resolution didn’t last long

2 days as a matter of fact.  What remains to be seen is whether this is a hiccup or the beginning of the end.  At least this time I didn’t go off the air for weeks.  This happening does point to a couple of reasons that resolutions often (usually?) fail.  First off, resolutions are usually made about things that are especially troublesome for us.  Not only because they’re important but because we’ve had trouble just following through on it without having to make a big deal out of it.  That trouble is why we resorted to making a resolution for it.  But if we’ve had trouble with a goal before making a resolution about it, it’s possible that it’s an impossible goal for us.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that many resolutions fail; we pick goals we have trouble achieving.   If we’re smart, we’ll realize when we’re making the resolution that we’ve already had trouble with it so we should frame the resolution in a way that acknowledges the difficulties either by not being so ambitious or including support mechanisms that haven’t been used before.

It’s also important to not abandon the resolution if we run into difficulty.  Treat each setback as a learning opportunity where we can see what works and what doesn’t work.  Then make adjustments to reduce the likeliness of setbacks in the future.

Creating a successful situation is not just a matter of working hard and hoping for the best.  We need  to frame the goal in an achievable way and we have to include support mechanisms that will increase the chances of success.

This learning opportunity showed that having an easily identifiable schedule helps me to recognize when there’s a problem and to get back to posting.  It also points to  a problem or problems trying to post every weekday.  I either need to slow the posting schedule down or find ways to write articles faster.  We’ll see what works…

Living in the left brain sucks!

One of the better known books about dealing with stroke was written by a brain scientist who survived a stroke.  She described her post stroke reality in almost mystical terms…  She felt one with the universe; could feel time flow around her; she was on vacation from her detail-oriented life.

She experienced a “left brain” stroke that caused her brain to rely more heavily on the unaffected right side of her brain.  My experience was less mystical…

I had a “right brain” stroke causing my brain to use more of my unaffected left side.  In addition to the functions lost as the areas that handled them were fried, I also found that my subconscious way of looking at stuff changed from “big Picture”, “intuitive” to “step by step”, “detailed”.  Instead of seeing everything as a whole that connected everything, I saw everything as a bunch of parts which may be connected, although the connections was not as important as each of the separate parts.

It’s impossible to realize how thoroughly it affects how you look at the world, view yourself and relate to others.  I don’t like this new reality and really wish I could go back to my old reality.  I now have to separate myself from the way my brain works.  Kathy often hears me apologize “Sorry, that’s the way my wiring works now.”  She doesn’t always buy it but it helps me remember my values and how what I am isn’t defined by how my brain works.  I just need to remember to consciously think and act the way that I want to.

I suppose that we could think of this like changing all my habits at the same time…  When you’re changing a habit, you have to consciously think about what you want to do instead of automatically following the habit.  Eventually, the new habit will replace the old habit and you won’t have to consciously think on what you want to do.  I can  only hope that this is applicable, at least somewhat, to my situation.

If you have any comments on this, right brain vs left brain or how this compares to habit changing, I’d love to see your comments…

Happy New Years 2015!

I pray that everyone will have an excellent 2015.  May you have wonderful stuff happen for you and unhappy events pass you by.

Last Sunday, the discussion in Sunday School turned to New Years being the beginning of a new cycle and that it’s natural to anticipate how it will unfold, what will be new or different.  As part of that anticipation, we think about what we will do differently. and this is why New Years resolutions have become a tradition.  If we think more about the doing different for the cycle, the year,and less about how it’s a resolution we just made, it’s more likely that we will follow through on our resolutions and less likely to abandon them.

I shared a resolution with the class that I’ve made for 2015.  It’s similar to other resolutions I’ve made in the past that never took hold so I’m more than a little nervous about this one:  I resolve to post on my blog every weekday in 2015.

There- I’ve published it for everyone to see. We can all watch to see how long I can keep my resolution.  If you have any thoughts on my resolution or New Years resolutions of your own to share, I’d love to hear them in the comments section.

I don’t want hackers, Google or the government watching what I do online

My topic of interest recently has been using https to encrypt my internet connections to improve my security and privacy.  I’m at the point in the process where I’m still accumulating questions faster than finding any answers…

There are several different aspects of https that I’m interested in.  The most important aspect is protecting my emails from mtrad.com & gmail.com.  Getting ssl working for mtrad.com probably has the most unknown & challenging issues involved.  I need to get an ssl certificate, which I’ve never had to do before.  Setting up ssl for mtrad.com also means that I’ve got to figure out ssl for my other domains and websites as well as how a new ssl certificate will affect cpanel and whm on my server. An additional wrinkle is that I need to do this through Servint, my hosting provider so that they will support ssl on my server in the future.  I’m not sure how much I expect ServInt to do vesus taking care of stuff myself.  But I’d like to delegate as much as possible to Servint.  😉

I’m hoping that protecting my gmail  is just a matter of selecting “Always use https” in my settings.  But I need to test it and consider what else I need to do to assure security.

For my website, I need to install a ssl certificate. implement https service and configure WordPress to use https for all admin pages. Then I need to research what’s needed to support https everywhere.  That includes checking out caching plugins  to see if one performance plugin is a better fit than others and learn how I need to configure it to work properly with https everywhere.

Last but not least, I need to figure out how to use https everywhere on my computers, especially my laptop.  I want to encrypt my net connections so when I’m on a public network, like at Starbucks, hackers can’t listen in on me.  I also want to encrypt my sessions on facebook and tumblr to reduce the chances that hackers can get enough info to hack my account.

If you have any resources, ideas, suggestions or questions, please include them in the comments for this post.  I look forward to learning all about https, ssl certificates and https everywhere…