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Procrastination — A State Of Freeze

Do you ever think about half-finished projects/songs/books, then get a lump in your stomach? A numbness. An uncertainty.


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Peter Middleton

4 months ago | 3 min read
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How to discern between difficulty and dorsal vagal state

Procrastination is a common state for people.

To be accepted, honoured, embraced even.

It exists around protection mechanisms that kept us safe, connected and secure in childhood. Some of these are legitimate. Others are outdated and in need of reworking.

Many creative block states exist in what is known as the dorsal vagal state, the body’s state of freeze when you feel like you’re in danger.

We can combine the dorsal response to rest and rejuvenate if we have access to our “wise adult” — ventral vagal state. If not, then it has us locked in a shutdown mode.

Procrastination has many different functions in life, letting us know that:

  • The project that we are working on is not working in its current form
  • The project is not a priority
  • There is a significant fear in the way of us achieving the project — outweighing our excitement.
  • We are not resourced fully in the project
  • The structure of the project is wrong
  • We don’t have enough support.
  • We are not conscious or aware of the reasons why we are creating the project.
  • We are focusing too heavily on the cynical aspects and ignoring the optimistic side.
  • We don’t believe in ourselves — self-doubt is crippling us
  • We don’t have trust or faith in our ability
  • We are trying to control the outcome too tightly

Mostly, procrastination is an invitation.

To become more aware of our process. To expand laterally (in thought and process) around the “problem”.

Life often works in a fractal pattern. Tangential behaviour often guides us to rewards by converging back in on the original intention.

What do I mean by that?

If you’re stuck on a particular verse in a song, you have two choices:

  • Put the pen down and do something else
  • Write around it, create another part of the song, then fill in the blanks later on.

You risk never returning to the project with the former.

Two caveats to this:

  • Clearing your mind with a refreshing environment often helps to guide you to the next stages of creation
  • Creativity is made in its own timing, not yours. Sometimes it needs to germinate.

These two are different to putting a project down because you don’t believe you can do it. A state of freeze, a shutdown. In self-esteem as well as physically.

Holding a project in this limbo creates tension.

How many projects do you have that are in this state? Count them.

Each project that is left takes up emotional and psychic energy. How much of your energy is tied up in these projects?

And do you wonder why you can’t perform to the level you want to?

Do you ever think about half-finished projects/songs/books, then get a lump in your stomach? A numbness. An uncertainty.

Creativity speaks to us through our thoughts. If a project wants to get made, it will revisit us; in our dreams, our thoughts, our experiences even.

Ever wandered around town and seen reminders of that half-finished idea?

I know I have.

Seen it in the waves off the coast, the birds soaring overhead, the ways that the trees sway.

If the heart and soul are calling you to create, then the longing will be great. There’s nothing that will stop that longing. How many older people lament about what they could have done, what their heart spoke to them?

I wanted to be a dancer, a poet, a businesswoman, a politician!

Our hearts speak.

Is that project half-finished because it’s not your priority, or is it because you don’t know how to finish it?

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Notice the distractions, write them down, then return to them once a week to notice the similarities
  • Expand your awareness around your fear. Why are you scared of finishing this?
  • Do something lateral that’s related to the project. Not involved with the block, but still focused on progressing with the creation.
  • Surrender your mind to your feelings; meditate, listen to your intuition, journal your feelings. Creativity will move through you if you allow it.
  • Have trust and faith in honest expression, experiment with this relationship.
  • Know that we cultivate a relationship with inspiration. It visits us if we are diligent and dedicated.

Have you experienced intrigue or curiosity during this article?

Did your heart or gut give you a sign that something is here to explore?

Maybe you even experienced a “full-body yes”.

Find out if 1:1 creativity coaching is for you.

Book a discovery call with me.

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Peter Middleton

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Peter is a creative coach working to unblock people's authentic creative essence and expression. Using transformational life coaching, meditation and embodiment techniques. He is passionate about mental health, trauma informed practice, spirituality and how to create sustainable cultures that empower in equity.


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