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Irrational Idea 7: Working Hard at Not Working

Click here for the introductory document in this series.

Irrational Idea#7

“It is better to ignore circumstances that can cause future hardships.” Common phrases include: “Out of sight, out of mind.” or “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.”

Have you ever known or worked with a “slacker” who works so hard to avoid real work—that they end up working harder at not working than they would by doing their own work? Have you ever put off an unpleasant task only to lose sleep from dreading it? When you finally completed the task, you were most likely relieved and at peace.

  • By avoiding unpleasant work, responsibilities or other challenges, the individual works harder at avoidance than he or she would ever work at dealing with them.
  • The anxiety of dreading the task far outweighs the unpleasantness of doing the task.
  • Losing sleep while dreading the task leads to crankiness, exhaustion, and many other problems which could be avoided by completing the task instead.

Rational idea: “I might not like doing this now, but I’m going to love the results!”

These tips will help you face the task and experience the relief and peace—as well as the sense of accomplishment.

  • By completing the dreaded task and enduring the temporary unpleasantness, your workload is far smaller than the anxiety and work involved in avoiding the problem or working at “looking busy” to avoid doing real work.
  • Complaining and whining are immature behaviors and often lead to avoidance.
  • Self-confidence grows through achievement; it does not grow through avoiding work, responsibilities, or challenges.
  • Avoidance is also part of perfectionist behavior. If you’re concerned that the outcome will not be “perfect,” you might avoid the task altogether.
    • No matter how much analysis is done before taking action, far more will be learned when action is taken. Creating a well-informed plan differs from and is better than a so-called “perfect” plan.
    • Learn to differentiate between planning and perfectionism.
    • Learn to recognize when the time taken to create a good plan is excessive.
      • Recognize when activities to create a “perfect” plan become a stalling technique.

For a happy and emotionally healthy life, contact CrossRoads for counseling at 317-842-8881 if you are in the Central Indiana area. This series was inspired by and sourced from “A Guide to Rational Living” by Albert Ellis and Robert Harper.