Delay shooting the help

25 Dec


Procrastination, delaying without reason doing something that one has to do, makes little sense. If the voluntary delay also causes anxiety, which in most cases it does, it may be particularly pointless. Yet a lot of people procrastinate at least some of the times. Why?

One can make a case for postponing unpleasant things that are avoidable – in fact why bother doing those things at all – but not things that are unavoidable, or things that a person intends to do.

Desirability of a task influences the decision to procrastinate or not. Rationally, it should not matter but the fact that it does provides a possible toehold into ‘why’ we procrastinate –

  1. Sometimes problems don’t appear to have a good solution right away and one hopes that a solution would appear over time even though one may not have good reasons to think that such good fortune would strike.
  2. For example, one hopes that the ‘unavoidable’ task would become avoidable? Or – we wait till the point “it is clear” that the problem cannot be avoided?

Procrastination is understood exclusively as a problem about ordering, and assumes that the net amount of time expended on task remains constant, irrespective of order. Perhaps that is a problematic assumption. Starting things later may just mean that we spend less time on the task than we otherwise would. However, one can easily reframe the issue as one about when to spend the reduced time, than one where we must delay to achieve the aim of spending less time on the task.

Shooting the help

At times when people are worried, and when well-intentioned people try to help them, they simply become annoyed, or even mildly angry at them. Why is it that ‘we’ refuse help, or more puzzlingly become angry or annoyed with people who are trying in good faith to be of help.

When people offer advice, they often use munitions from similar events and incidents they have encountered. This can be a bit galling as it undermines the “uniqueness” of our problems. This ‘feeling’ is further compounded by the fact that many a times people are also over-eager and often too quick to offer solutions without a more patient listening of the individuating data. And then arguably many people while eager to help don’t do much thinking (either through incapacity, lack of motivation, or on the assumption that no thought is needed) about the problem itself, and offer comments that are not particularly insightful. And then many a times all people want is a sympathetic ear or a pat on the back. In other words, sometimes ‘public’ self-pity is all we want. This is typically so when either the solutions are obvious or non-existent.

Outside of this, it is also the case that high achievers are less likely to seek help, and bristle when offered help, for seeking help forces them to face their own vulnerability (Source: colleague).