Category Archives: Procrastination

The Power Of Negative Thinking

This a quote from a subheading in one of my favorite books of all time, “The Peter Principle“.

But in fact this approach has a long and rich history.

I am just about to head overseas on a 2 month trip with my wife and 3 small kids – and leave my counselling practice unattended for all that time.

For many reasons, this was something I assumed I would NEVER be able to do.

With the Power of Negative thinking (done more informally than Tim suggests in his video below) I managed to do it.

Think of this as a farewell from me – til November anyway – and, an invitation to you to apply negative thinking in your life for your success.

-Dr Martin Russell

Working Through A Problem

What the **** does that mean really?

What does it mean to “get over” something?

What about “sort it out”?

And as for “deal with it”, are our lives some variation on Blackjack that we just need the right hand to show up?

It’s one of the questions I pondered when I made the “Self Help Me Over” online video product. People had come to me over the years in my counselling practice requesting exactly these things, and so I decided to record the consultation I would give people to help fulfill this request.

But I didn’t cover how to “work through” something.

Well I’ve just been sent some information that appeals to my sense of absurdity about the English Language.

If you have an emotion you need to “work through” then this is from and it is for you…

The Tunnel Technique

1. Notice where in your body you feel the emotion. With your hands, remove it from yourself and put it front of you. Expand the image until it’s the size and shape of a doorway.

2. On the other side of the doorway is a tunnel of the emotion. In a moment, you will enter the tunnel and walk through it to find out what is on the other side. But there is a rule: once entering the tunnel you must keep walking.

3. Having agreed to keep moving your feet, step into the tunnel, close the door behind you, and feel the emotion surrounding you as you keep moving until you discover the exit on the other side. (This has never taken more than 30 seconds.)

4. Going through the emotion and out the other side typically moves a person into a very different place emotionally. Going through guilt can lead to freedom, going through rage can lead to compassion, but … sometimes it goes to other strong emotions which have been suppressed or masked. When that happens, go through that emotion as well until you’ve reached a place which feels healthy and whole.

You may consider doing this with someone around, even a counsellor, but for the 60-120 seconds the whole thing takes it’s worth giving this a go.

The morning after I read about this I was thinking about an emotion of disgust from my medical school days. I could handle dead bodies, but mucus and phlegm and spit was always a choking and gagging revulsion for me. I used The Tunnel Technique on it and now it’s unpleasant still (I do NOT want to drink a spittoon) but without the gagging or turning away.

One method of self-help is to be aware of your language, and do what it suggests literally.

With the appropriate techniques you can even turn “working through”, into “playing through”.

Golf anyone?

-Dr Martin Russell

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Do You Have A Healthy Relationship With Your Emotions?

When people come to me with problems often they think of their problems as “irrational”.

The really interesting part is that their emotional response is always the bit that is irrational.

It doesn’t enter their minds that perhaps the most irrational part of what is going on is that they are they are believing their logical thinking.

Human beings are remarkable poor at using logic, despite all our efforts. We are incredibly self-deluding, and disturbingly unaware of most of what goes on in our lives.

So give your emotions a break.

Here is a first step to making sure you have a health relationship with your emotions.

Check for any emotional reactions that you think are “irrational”, or that you are “battling”.

I’m not going to try to convince you that your emotions are correct or that you should give in to them. I don’t know you or your emotions, and yes emotions aren’t always the most accurate guide either.

But here is the question.

Can you think of a time when that emotional reaction WOULD be exactly what you want to have happen in your life?

Emotions are part of the range of being human, so where do they fit appropriately into your life, even if only in rare circumstances.

If you are doing this as an academic exercise and don’t have a personal example, then let me set a few challenges for you.

Where would you like to have a phobia in your life?

Where would you like to hesitate more, or be confused?

Where would it be appropriate to have a craving in your life?

Where would you like to be more stubborn?

All these emotions have a place in a healthy human being. Rather than avoid them, how about figuring out where they fit for you?

-Dr Martin Russell

Procrastination Case Study

A University student in her early 20’s came to me for a few things including for hypnosis to stop her from procrastinating.

She was studying pharmacy and part of her being a high achiever was that she was always leaving her exam studies until the last days and cramming like mad.

She was becoming bothered by it and had finally come for help.

Now before I say any more, let me ask you.

What would you recommend for this young woman?

Even if you know nothing about hypnosis, what would you suggest she change?

I didn’t end up using hypnosis, and in fact this particular change was done in a single session.

Would you have done what I did?

I’ll continue…

I checked a few extra things.

First of all I checked what her results were. She was getting either distinctions or at worst credits for all her results.

Next I asked her what exactly was bothering her about her procrastination.

She told me that her friends and even some of her family were pointing out to her how bad it was that she was cramming like this.

So I enquired further how bad it was, and it turned out that she was putting her head into her studies for all the hours she was awake for about 48 hours before the exam. No other life at all.

She was getting very stressed about this behavior during the cramming. She was also worrying about this at other times during the university term too, and more and more this was playing on her mind. She had tried to set up better , more consistent study habits but with no success.

However she was otherwise healthy, happy and social, and she was not taking drugs, going without sleep, or doing anything else that might be damaging.

At this point I asked her the key question…

“Are the people who are telling you how bad your cramming is, getting better grades than you?”

Her answer came back, “No. They certainly aren’t.”

At this point I started to describe the antics of some of the people I studied with when I went to medical school, and what some of the top achievers were doing to get their amazing results.

I gave her my assessment.

Could she have better study habits?

Probably. But she was getting good results from her current ones, and her future plans probably only required the level of results she was getting at the moment.

Was her problem procrastination?

Not right now it wasn’t. Her problem was that she was taking advice from people who’s performance wasn’t as good as her own. If she followed their advice and did what they recommended she would likely end up with their results.

Should she ever change what she was doing?

If she wanted to, yes certainly. My suggestion was that she have a think about whether SHE was unhappy with the effects of the way she studied. If she was, then we could do something about it. In the meantime she could decide what advice to listen to by checking what results the person was getting.

She came back a week later, much less stressed, and not wanting any changes in this area.

What have people advised you about the suitability or otherwise of procrastination in your life?

What would you have done differently for this woman?

-Dr Martin Russell

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