Thursday, September 12, 2019

This Jungian Life: A Podcast You Should Know


My friend Mae habitually procrastinates. If Mae has a Friday deadline to complete a task, she will start working on Thursday night. At one time in your life, you probably experienced procrastination directly or indirectly. What causes the propensity to put off into the future, what can be completed in the present?  Is it due to a lack of self-control? Laziness? Not caring? Apathy? As I pondered these questions, I coincidentally discovered This Jungian Life, a podcast which brings a psychological perspective to important issues in life, according to their introduction. From their episode on procrastination, I learned about causes for the tendency to procrastinate, and strategies used to overcome the habit. Let’s talk about it…

This Jungian Life

According to their website, in This Jungian Life,“3 Jungian Analysts talk about life and how we grow.”  Three certified Jungian analysts, Joseph R.Lee, Lisa Marchiano, and Deborah C. Stewart, discuss various topics and reveal how they can be analyzed from a psychological perspective based on Carl Jung’s theories, known as Jungian Psychology. Episodes include Shame, Dreams, Choosing a Life Partner, to name a few. 

The podcast unfolds like a conversation between friends, and the audience is privy to the exchange.  When I listen to an episode, I feel like I am at a coffee shop and ease dropping on an interesting conversation happening at the next table. Each episode is tailored to address a psychological issue that causes emotional and mental angst or peacelessness. The therapists’ style is to use music, storytelling, articles, dream analysis and personal experiences to make difficult psychological concepts accessible to listeners. The podcast is not a substitute for personal therapy, but it is a glimpse at how therapists analyze human emotions from a Jungian perspective.

Procrastination

I suggest you listen to the procrastination episode which is bound to change your outlook on why we may wait until the last minute when we had several hours to get something done. If you ever judged someone who procrastinates harshly, the episode will change your mind. In summary, people usually procrastinate to avoid negative emotions. For an example, Mae struggles with English. As a result, Mae waits until the last minute to complete her research paper. Mae is afraid she will not be able to do a good job on the paper. The negative emotion, fear, is what Mae wants to avoid.  

Procrastination is a short-term solution with long-term negative consequences. Whenever we replace a difficult task with a pleasurable one, we have solved the problem for a short time. Instead of writing her paper, Mae feels good listening to music or watching television. Pain is replaced with pleasure. But, guess what? The due date still stands. Eventually, Mae will have to buckle down and write her paper or fail the course. However, now she does not have as much time. Procrastination does not solve problems, it creates new ones.   

Pain Avoidance

Procrastination is a neurosis. Carl Jung said, “Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.”  Nobody wants to feel pain, so we do whatever we can do to avoid it. This is an effort to protect our ego. However, when we attempt to delay suffering by replacing pain with temporary pleasure, our growth is delayed. The energy Mae uses to avoid writing her paper, could be used to actually write the paper or ask for help. Growth involves a fair amount of suffering. One of my favorite quotes is, “When growth stops, decay begins.” When Mae gains courage, confidence and tools to slay her fear of failure, then she will be able to write her paper with time to spare. Carl Jung suggested that we don't solve our problems, we outgrow them.

Self-Avoidance and Reality

I was elated when the therapists referred to Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero With A Thousand Faces. An initial stage of the hero’s journey is the denial of the call to adventure. When Mae postpones writing her paper, she is refusing the call to adventure due to fear of the unknown. Will Mae make an A or F on her paper? By postponing writing her paper, Mae avoids dealing with her anxiety about English. In actuality, Mae is avoiding herself. This behavior makes sense. Who wouldn't want to postpone experiencing negative emotions as long as possible?  

Consideration, Patience and Support

The consequences of procrastination can be fatal. Imagine a person who postpones a doctor appointment due to fear of hearing an unpleasant result to a test. People miss important opportunities due to stalling. Instead of judgment, procrastinators need a community of consideration, patience and support. Every action has a reaction. A delayed action is possibly a reaction to an unresolved painful action. 

Strategies to Slay Procrastination
  •          Divide the job into small tasks
  •      Take frequent breaks
  •          Listen to enjoyable music while doing the task
  •          Reframe the task. Look at the benefits of completing the task on time
  •          Realize the thing we fear is not as bad as we think it is
  •          Consider the consequences 
  •          Practice self-compassion and self-acceptance
  •          Seek help from a therapist or life-coach
  •          Believe once you start the task, help will appear

This Jungian Life

I hope you listen to This Jungian Life. When I listen to Joe, Lisa, and Deb, I feel their sincere interest in helping listeners better understand themselves and the human condition. I am always inspired.  Join us. 


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