Psychological Self-Help

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P.M. More techniques are given at the end of this chapter and in
chapter 11. Also see McWilliams & McWilliams (1991). 
Many procrastinators, however, resist these methods. As one
student told me, "I can easily ignore schedules and reminders.
Rewards and penalties are the worst of all--I just take the reward
without doing the work and I forget to punish myself." A truly
dedicated "relaxed" procrastinator will need more internal motivation,
maybe a new philosophy of life (chapter 3) or simply more worry and
tension, i.e. a much stronger self-critic. 
Behaviorally, the role of negative reinforcement in procrastination
is easy to see, i.e. some behavior or thought enables a person to
escape some unpleasant but necessary work. That escape--
procrastination--is reinforced. (Besides, the pleasure from playing,
partying, and watching TV could easily overwhelm the pleasure from
studying.) Each procrastinator develops his/her own unique
combination of escape mechanisms, such as emotions (fears,
resentment, social needs), thoughts (irrational ideas, cognitive
strategies, self-cons), skills and lack of skills, and unconscious
motives, perhaps. Remember, we anticipated this complexity in
chapter 2. 
Helping the relaxed procrastinator
The work-avoiding, pleasure-seeking, reasonably comfortable type
of procrastinator will not feel much pressure to change, unless he/she
is confronted with reality by some event (such as, flunking out of
school) or by serious thoughts about where his/her life is headed (as
with an alcoholic, denial usually keeps this from happening). In short,
this type of procrastinator needs a crisis. The question is: Can the
relaxed procrastinator provide the pressure he/she needs to straighten
out his/her life? (See "closing the crap-gap" in the motivated
underachiever section above.) 
Both types of procrastinators dislike the chores they are avoiding.
How does "work" become so disliked? Ellis and Knaus (1977) and
Knaus (1979) suggest that, as procrastinators, we create much of our
own misery in the first place by telling ourselves the task is really
awful ("I hate all this reading") or by putting ourselves down ("I'll do a
terrible job") or by telling ourselves something is very unfair ("The
exams are ridiculous, I can't stand that instructor") or by setting
impossible goals ("I've got to get all A's"). Then we procrastinate to
avoid our own self-created emotional dislike of the job at hand. 
One solution, of course, is to reduce our dislike for and anxiety
about the work we need to do, for instance by building self-esteem
(method #1, chapter 14) or by using Rational-Emotional imagery
(chapter 12). We might simply ask ourselves when did we get a
guarantee that life would always be easy and fun? Or, who said hard
work is terrible or that you must get an A? Or, do you know for certain
that you can't stand to be bored? Or, what is your scientific proof that
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