Psychological Self-Help

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may also be uncomfortable if a woman were successful in a masculine
role--executive, pilot, priest--or if a man were successful in a feminine
role--nurse, hair stylist, homemaker. (3) Others refuse to give up
procrastinating and refuse to strive for success for fear of becoming a
workaholic...or of becoming arrogant, competitive, demanding, or
boring and isolated socially. They may feel that work is endless, that it
will never be done. (4) A few procrastinators may fear success
because they'd feel guilty, as though they didn't deserve it...or "I'd be
an entirely different person, I'd have to admit I'm capable, I'd lose my
A second version of the anxiety-based procrastinator is afraid of
failing. (1) Of course, if we are self-critical and feel inferior, we will
avoid doing many things, especially competitive activities. Not trying is
a form of failure but not as painful as actually trying and failing. (2) If
you have set very high or impossible goals--like a perfectionist, you
are likely to feel overwhelmed. Perhaps that is why, strange as it
seems, perfectionistic procrastinators often have low confidence in
their ability. By procrastinating, such a person avoids, for the moment,
the dreaded expected failure (and guarantees doing poorly in the long
run). (3) If you dread finding out just how able you are (and having
others find out too!), it might seem wiser to put off putting yourself to
the test than to run the risk of trying one's best and only being
average. This is especially crucial if you believe a person is more
worthwhile and lovable if he/she is real smart or talented.
Procrastination, in this special case, may enable us to believe we are
superior in ability (while another part of us fears being inferior),
regardless of our performance. So, as you can see, procrastination
may strengthen a person's feelings of inferiority or superiority. 
Better to remain silent and appear a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
-Abraham Lincoln
The Rational-Emotive therapists (see method #3 in chapter 14;
Ellis & Knaus, 1977) claim that the self-critical and perfectionistic type
of procrastinator has these kinds of irrational beliefs: "I must always
be on time and do well." "Others must like and approve of me." "I'm a
no-good! How could a no-good do anything well?" Of course, one can't
always be perfect, so such a person will fail, leading to thinking things
are awful, feeling pessimistic, and expecting that work will be hard, no
fun, boring--something to avoid. Such a person needs to build his/her
self-esteem (see chapter 14). 
A third form of anxiety-based procrastinator needs to feel in
control and/or to resist control by someone else ("You can't make me
do it."). Ellis and Knaus refer to this type as the "angry defiant
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