Dr. Dryden makes several important points. I strongly urge you to buy this fine book and read it carefully as this topic applies to all of us at one time or another in our lives. With that said let me point out some ideas he discusses that resonate me with me.
First, Dr. Dryden talks about a concept called pseudo-work. He defines pseudo-work to include activities such as:
1. Tidying your workspace;
2. Preparing your work materials;
3. Doing more research (which you don’t need to do before you begin the task);
4. Dealing with other tasks that you think need to be done before you begin work on the task at hand
He wisely points out that the function of pseudo-work is to keep you comfortable or avoid the discomfort of getting down to business. What to do about this all too human tendency?
First acknowledge to yourself that you are engaging in pseudo-work. Do not perfume it, excuse it, or rationalize about it! This will only keep you firmly engaged in your self-defeating pseudo-work. Accept yourself as a fallible human who engages in pseudo-work to either avoid discomfort or maintain a state of comfort. Then put down your pseudo-work behavior but do not put yourself as a person down for engaging in this self-defeating behavior.
As a second step you then need to go against the grain and do some hard analysis of the rigid and extreme beliefs you are bringing to the task you are avoiding. Here are some examples of the rigid beliefs which are at the core of the emotional disturbance we are holding when we engage in pseudo-work:
1. I must have certainty that I will do the task well.
2. The task must not be difficult.
3. I must be ready to do the task, inclined to do the task, and motivated to do the task before I initiate doing the task.
4. I must not have to do boring tasks.
5. I must get this aversive work done quickly so I can return to a state of comfort.
6. I must not have to deprive myself of other more pleasurable activities, like television, texting, surfing the web while I do this important task.
Here are some of the extreme beliefs which stem from these core rigid beliefs:
7. I cannot stand the uncertainty that I am doing the task properly.
8. It would be awful to do this important task improperly.
9. If I did this important task improperly that would prove I am less worthwhile as a person, I am inferior as a person.
10. I cannot stand a difficult task.
11. Difficult tasks are unbearable.
12. Because I am not stronger and procrastinate that proves I am less worthwhile as a person, I am inferior as a person.
13. I cannot stand to do a boring task.
14. Boring tasks are awful.
15. I am less worthwhile because I cannot tolerate boring tasks when other students can.
16. I cannot stand to persist at this aversive task and stay with doing it over a longer period of time.
17. It is awful to have to do aversive tasks which are slow to complete.
18. Because I am unable to stay with an aversive task that proves I am less worthwhile as a person, I am inferior.
19. I cannot stand to deprive myself of other more pleasurable activities like television, texting, surfing the web while I do this important task.
20. It is awful to be deprive myself of other pleasurable like television, texting, and surfing the web while I do this important task.
21. I am less of a person because I am unable to deprive myself of other more pleasurable activities like television, texting, and surfing the web while I do this important task.
Now look over the above list and circle those rigid and extreme beliefs which resonate with you. Once you have identified a few write down the rational beliefs which would be flexible and non-extreme and you could then force yourself to act upon to stop your pseudo-work which is comfortable and do the uncomfortable work you are avoiding. Here is an example:
1. Rigid belief leading to pseudo-work: I must have certainty that I will do the task well.
Alternative belief leading to real work which is uncomfortable: I want to have certainty that I will do the task well but I do not need to have such certainty. I will do it as best I can and learn from my doing it!
1. Extreme belief leading to pseudo-work: I cannot stand the uncertainty that I am doing the task properly.
Alternative belief leading to real work which is uncomfortable: It is a struggle for me to tolerate the uncertainty that I am doing this important task properly but I can bear the struggle of tolerating uncertainty and it is very much in my best interest to do so. By going against the instinct to avoid discomfort I will learn by doing and also I will get my work done.
I strongly urge you to develop your potential and fight your tendency to engage in pseudo-work. Face reality and see what you are doing and how pseudo-work is holding you back. Then use REBT to help you get going and going against your instincts of avoiding discomfort or maintaining comfort at all costs. Use the list of beliefs above to help you fight your avoidance behavior. If you continue to engage in pseudo-work perhaps you should buy Dr. Dryden’s book where he goes into this matter at great length. If you remain stuck in pseudo-work after reading his fine book perhaps you should then make an appointment with me either by phone, Skype, or in person and I will help you to use REBT to achieve your important personal goals! You can do it, you can go against the grain, and fight your tendency to engage in pseudo-work. Act now.