I procrastinate, a lot. I have never thought of the reason why; I just always assumed that I do not like time and time does not like me. Thus, we fight again and again and time always wins because I am always late. I have tried schedules, alarm clocks, timers, you name it. I have good intentions and I begin by trying, but inevitably end up failing ( my therapist says not to think in terms of success and failure, but still I do…).
Today as I read Dr. Peck’s book, “The Road Less Traveled” I realized why. To begin, the definition of delaying gratification as written by the Dr.:
“Delaying gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with. (I love this next part:) It is the only decent way to live.”
He says that this process is usually learned by most people early in life, some as early as five years of age. Also that, throughout elementary and middle school this is daily exercised, through the performance of homework particularly. Thus, by the age of twelve some children can do their homework before other things, often without parental prompting and “By the age of fifteen or sixteen such behavior is expected of the adolescent and is considered normal.”
Sometimes, though, it becomes clear to the teachers of this age group that a “substantial number of adolescents fall far short of this norm.”, that “some fifteen- or sixteen-year-olds seem to have hardly developed this capacity at all.”, that “some seem even to lack the capacity entirely.” There in lie the problem students. I will just quote the rest as I believe para-phrasing it will not give the full effect:
“Despite average or better intelligence, their grades are poor simply because they do not work. They skip classes or skip school entirely on the whim of the moment. They are impulsive, and their impulsiveness spills over into their social life as well. They get into frequent fights, they become involved with drugs, they begin to get in trouble with the police. Play now, pay later, is their motto. So the psychologists and psychotherapists are called in. But most of the time it seems too late. These adolescents are resentful of any attempt to intervene in their life style of impulsiveness, and even when this resentment can be overcome by warmth and friendliness and a nonjudgmental attitude on the part of the therapist, their impulsiveness is often so severe that it precludes their participation in the process of psychotherapy in any meaningful way. They miss their appointments. They avoid all important and painful issues. So usually the attempt at intervention fails, and these children drop out of school, only to continue a pattern of failure that frequently lands them in disastrous marriages, in accidents, in psychiatric hospitals or in jail.”
Wow…my whole teenage existence summed up in one paragraph. Actually, most of my life (save the disastrous marriages and the jail part). As I sat here (I have sat in the same spot since I began to read) and thought, all of what I struggle with makes sense to me. There is a reason I procrastinate! It is because I do not know how to delay gratification. I only know self-gratification. I thought I was always told “no” as a child, but as I sat here and thought, I realized that I was given in to much more than I was told “no”. So is it my grandparents’ fault for my not delaying gratification? I will not answer. I believe they did the best they could and I am grateful for that. Jesus says,
“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take UP his cross, and follow me.”
I have always thought that I take up my cross…I do, really…I follow after Jesus, I deny self…but do I, really? Not as much as I should. I know that now. I am not worthy of Christ.
This is going to be a fascinating book.