Dr. B's Blog

Why We Procrastinate - Issue 9: Time - Nautilus

Why we procrastinate:

The disconnect between our present and time-shifted selves has real implications for how we make decisions. We might choose to procrastinate, and let some other version of our self deal with problems or chores. Or, as in the case of Parfit’s smoking boy, we can focus on that version of our self that derives pleasure, and ignore the one that pays the price.

DBT, and mindfulness in general, work to help people stay in the moment because leaving your present can have unforeseen consequences on your ability to make wise choices and operate effectively. The intersection of this perspective with the research presented in this article seems to be around the connectedness we feel with ourselves and others.

Of course, the way we treat our future self is not necessarily negative: Since we think of our future self as someone else, our own decision making reflects how we treat other people. Where Parfit’s smoking boy endangers the health of his future self with nary a thought, others might act differently. “The thing is, we make sacrifices for people all the time,” says Hershfield. “In relationships, in marriages.” The silver lining of our dissociation from our future self, then, is that it is another reason to practice being good to others. One of them might be you.

The important thing to remember here is that if you don't treat yourself and others with dignity and respect, it's going to be hard to see the value in this perspective.