Tasks terrify me

A student gets so stressed about managing their time that they have a hard time breathing sometimes.

Can our elder help them find their motivation?


Dear EWC

I have never been able to meet a therapist – not even once. I am currently 19 years old, a second-year college student. Lately, my mental state has been pretty messy. I don’t really know how to describe it. I have a hard time managing my time and my tasks terrify me so much that my heart beats so fast when I attempt to start. I also experienced a hard time breathing when my classmate approached me for our school tasks. I procrastinate a lot and tend to forget small but important details and it affects my study. Last month I failed two subjects and I was not able to tell my parents yet. I actually don’t know if I want to continue or find a job. I feel like a failure. College is not a race, but if I slow down my pace I will completely fail. If I could be completely honest I don’t want to study anymore because I lost motivation. Please help me decide if I should continue or just maybe go for a job.

Grandpa-Matt replies

Let’s look at why you stop, put off, delay, abandon and/or avoid applying yourself to goals you have assigned yourself. The real question is, are you worthy of achieving any goals that you set for yourself or not? It is a question of your self-esteem that only you can answer. 

Many people procrastinate because of a deep-set fear of failure. Often it is based on the false evaluation that you are not good or capable enough to succeed. Rather than fail, a person will put off going through with the task, so they won’t have to admit a failure. In a way, accepting defeat in a task gives a person evidence that confirms that they are not good enough. 

The error in that type of thinking is that people haven’t separated in their mind what a person does from who they are. For example, when I consider who I am, I know that I am a bright, intelligent, and resourceful man. And, I do fail in a lot of things. I can’t dance, I can’t sing, I can’t solve Sudoku puzzles and a great many other things. But those are things that I cannot do, yet I am not a failure as a human being. 

I am not a therapist, but I think you want appreciation, attention, approval, and the like, all symbols of the loving that we all desire from both others and ourselves. Instead, when you say, “I feel like a failure,” you are putting yourself down as a human.

We all have this little voice in our head judging ourselves for our failures, and, at the same time, it is attempting to push us to get working. “You are not living up to my potential,” is the critical voice,” and the other voice says, “Get up and start moving ahead.”

In the sport of greyhound racing, an artificial or mechanical rabbit is used as a lure to motivate the dogs to chase it as fast as possible. With these animals, their drive is more instinctual than psychological. This is where you differ from the animal in the metaphorical race in which you are engaged. I don’t think the animals choose whether to do their best or not. Humans do have the choice. 

Motivation is another word for choice. Be clear that you are choosing to stop working the moment that you stop. It is always our responsibility to take charge and keep choosing to move ahead. Right now, in my view, you are listening to your doubting mind. Maybe it is to prove that you are right in thinking that it is hopeless for you to create a long-term series of successful actions without being internally pushed by a sense of some reward. 

Motivation is a minute-by-minute decision, just like walking. You constantly choose to take one foot and move it in front of the other, and the next step and the next, and so forth. The minute you choose not to take that next step, you are at a standstill. You will stay in that position forever until you choose to move forward. Only you know the answer to the question, “What will it take to get you back on track?” 

It is all down to a question of motivation. In my case, I always struggled with math. Whether it was algebra or any other branch of mathematics, I did so poorly, and I wasn’t motivated to study as I figured it was hopeless. I did poorly in tests and just got by with the lowest possible grades in school. The same thing happened in college. My only motivation to even attempt to pass was the realization that it was either sink or swim. Drowning for me was out of the question, so I got by. Believe me; there was no joy to be found in doing the work. Joy is not a necessary requirement to find motivation. 

When you were a small child learning how to walk, you fell many times, but those failures didn’t stop you. You were a brave child! You are now a capable person, with the ability to put aside the doubts and move forward if, and only if, you acknowledge to yourself that you are worthy of success. Think back to when you were a child who played games just for the fun of it. You motivated yourself to play the game with others just for the experience that kids usually get from playing. If nothing else, just consider this as another game of life to play. Pride in yourself should be enough to keep you fully engaged. 

I suggest that you need to focus on the idea that you are OK, just as you are. To have success, all you need is to build your self-esteem. Start by reading this article on the website. There you will find many tips to assist you on that path.    

Only you can decide your path in life. The choice is yours! If finishing college is a valuable goal, then do what you need to do to get there. You are truly capable of going for the best!

Article #: 479971

Category: Self-Improvement

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