Arguing Against an Overly Supportive Environment (Interview with Devin)

We again welcome back Devin and thank him for taking the time to revisit us for another interview. Though our views often disagree, we certainly appreciate his concern, feedback, and suggestions for improvement. Today, he doesn’t hold anything back as he confronts us directly about still avoiding and not really taking concrete steps to deal with achieving meaningful change. The transcript of our interview is below.

Patrick: Welcome back Devin. I sense you’re eager to get started and still quite unhappy with us.

Devin:

Without a doubt, without a doubt! I see that not much significant has changed here since the last time we talked. At least, not in your postings or style. However, I am starting to sense some support from a few of the comments from other readers.

Patrick: Can you offer some specific examples of what you like?

Devin:

Absolutely! These words from a couple of readers…I totally agree with and I think is exactly what a lot of you need. That kind of slap in the face, via direct words, to wake up and not just constantly balance ideas, weighing back and forth, and seemingly forever in debate and reflection.

I think electrongasman put it quite accurately when he stated: “I think that on a theoretical level a group of like-minded people exhibit the same issues as the individuals, so where’s the impetus to move the group on against the inertia and impulse of habit?”

I agree in that you are in fact aggravating the situation by drawing a group towards your writing and methods. We usually think of support groups as being beneficial and promoting a friendly environment to share and empathize. However, with procrastinators, I don’t think we should try to manufacture such an agreeable, soft, ‘it’s okay’, kind of environment. It would serve procrastinators some good if they got used to more confrontation, pressure, disagreement, and just having less choices. A discplined environment would be more effective than a overly supportive one.

Patrick: Are you saying that it’s possible this project is doing more harm than good?

Devin:

There’s a good chance of that. As electrongasman mentioned, it’s even harder to instill change among a bigger group if the group starts to feel good about maintaining their old patterns. And your site, even if not on purpose, does promote that. You are making people feel a bit too comfortable with procrastination, and suddenly they get reinforced for not changing. The danger is now the group may think they are participating in change, addressing their procrastination problems, but in fact really making things worse. Going to gatherings, having distant discussions, writing in journals, while it all amounts to quite a bit of effort, does not equate to action and change.

Patrick: Are you worried that your approach can come across as quite patronizing and scare people off?

Devin:

Excellent. I think that is needed. To stimulate urgency and fear, and that there are people who are not on your side, and that’s just reality. Listen, I’m not in the business of feelings and I don’t worry about how hurt someone may get. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not totally against support groups. But I do think the group can be more effective by holding members accountable. As electrongasman said, It would be very easy to acclimate to confession and acceptance and so relieve some of the emotional issues, but much harder to engage the pain of change.”

I get the feeling that too many here are so fixated on the ’emotional issues’ that they are not willing to activate change because it would be too painful. It’s as if the end goal is to feel better, and then leave it at that.

Patrick:

Well, this is quite stimulating, and I certainly do not want to leave our conversation at that, but unfortunately our time is up today. We have to bring you back for more, Devin, and also would like to encourgage other people with experiences in procrastination to consider coming on for an interview to maybe offer points to further support or argue against Devin? Or maybe in the future we’ll even consider having Devin and another participant on at the same time to hopefully provide interesting discussion.

Devin:

I look forward to it. Patrick, you seem to be falling more and more into the role of moderator. Wish you would argue with me a little more, and show some anger…voice it up, instead of just leaving everything in your writing…sometimes a bit too passively.

Patrick:

Hehe..it’s tempting…maybe next time. Again, thanks for making us think…or I guess….you would prefer to make us act…not think so much. See you again.

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4 Comments

Filed under Interview with the Procrastinators

4 responses to “Arguing Against an Overly Supportive Environment (Interview with Devin)

  1. electrongasman

    My prior comments were based on an experience with a divorce recovery-type group which I realized was applicable to any support group, and which I think is quite typical of people anyway. One tends to hang around those most like one’s self; “compatible disfunctions” I like to call them. I was also telling off on myself: I would tend like that, too! Change takes effort and most likely will be painful, but also happens faster and more securely with support and excellent leadership. I believe that surrendering to the truth demands action, else you betray it and damage your own conscience and maybe never pass that point again. Pretty high stakes! I am reminded of a comment a university philosophy professor (sorry, can’t remember him at the moment) said to class, “If you want to be a good writer, read lots of good writing.” If you want to be productive and responsible, do what productive and responsible people do. Everybody has a choice to think thoughts which lead to doing actions. Decide to do something, then be obedient and do it. I strongly suspect procrastination is a consequence of more fundemental issues; treating it (behavior modification) may be nothing more than treating symptoms, but is still useful in the short run; at least you might not loose your job, etc.

  2. electrongasman

    Another thing, be graceful: failing something is not the same as being a failure; condemnation is oppressive. However, be merciful: clear understanding of responsibility, your cause and your effect, is a kindness to yourself; it’s reality and creates freedom. You can realize that you’re not measuring up and still be motivated to start and continue efforts to make better decisions. When you start to get positive results, you’ll get addicted to the sense of accomplishment!

  3. Hello electrongasman,

    Thanks for such a detailed and thoughtful response, and sharing your personal experiences of being involved in a support group. So, perhaps, for a group to be effective, instead of settling into traditional group support and comfort, perhaps what’s needed are exceptional leaders to take the group into risks and areas they wouldn’t go alone?

    Indeed, often in groups, we just do and continue more intensely what we would be doing alone, anyways. And perhaps, ironically, this protection may not be healthy. Yet, I agree with you in that the momentum can just as easily roll the other way. Once we are able to initiate through the early stages of painful change, then that group support and leadership can really propel and motivate individuals not to settle into the bad habits of before.

    Thanks again for the encouragement…suddenly from reflecting on your comments…an image popped into my mind…think I’ll write a post on it…
    I’m sure we’ll revisit these themes in the future…
    -patrick

  4. Pingback: Pushing Against the Weight of Comfort « Procrastination Post

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