Getting to grips with self-negotiation

February 6th, 2006 by Sit up a Tree

Do you procrastinate?

Do you put off tasks that would improve the quality of your life if you did them?

Do you know that you should go to the gym or lose a few pounds but don’t?

All of us occasionally do things that aren’t good for us or put off tasks that we don’t want to do because we can’t face up to them but the thing that I find curious is the way that we go about convincing ourselves to follow a course of action that ultimately isn’t all that good for us.  You might not realize it but you do it through a process of self-negotiation.

A good example is exercise.  Most people know that exercise is good for them and that they should take regular aerobic exercise but few do.  Why?  Because we weasel ourselves out of it.  We start off with the idea that we should exercise daily but almost as soon as we accept this fact we begin to start the self-negotiation process.

“Oh, yes, every day would be good but you really don’t have the time.”

“Yes, that’s right, what was I thinking of.  Every day is a bit over-the-top.  How about five days a week?”

“Yes, that’s good, but even five days a week is a bit much.  I think that three would be be better?”

“Yes, why didn’t I think of that!”

But is doesn’t end there.  Now that people have committed to a watered-down “three days a week” rather than the full-blown “every day” regime there is still room for self-negotiation.

“Should I go exercise today?”

“Hmmm, no.  After all, you’re very busy and also pretty tired.  Why not leave it until tomorrow?”

“Yeah, good idea.  I’ll get around to it tomorrow.”

Then, when tomorrow comes

“Hmmm, I’m not really in the mood to exercise today.”

“No, I can understand why.  Why not give it a miss today and then go Wednesday, Thursday and Friday instead.”


Now you go exercise Wednesday but come Thursday you’re back to negotiating with yourself.

“I’m not going to go today but I will exercise tomorrow, then to make up I’ll exercise four times a week next week instead …”

And so the cycle continues.

While there’s no doubt that you can use self-negotiation in a positive, pro-active way, on the whole we use it as a tool for procrastinating and holding ourselves back.  The good news is that this negative self-negotiation cycle isn’t easy to break.  Usually it’s no more than a bad habit that people have slipped into and just noticing that you do it can be all that you need to break the cycle.

The next time that you are trying to make a change or improvement in your life, be on the lookout for this internal self-negotiation and be careful that it doesn’t throw you off course and hold you back from achieving your goals!

This entry was posted on Monday, February 6th, 2006 at 10:14 am and is filed under Personal Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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