Even though Paul's stepfather was out of his life, he still maintained a strong hold over Paul because the demeaning messages continued to play in Paul's head. As a result, Paul stayed entangled in what I call "The Three P's": Perfectionism, Procrastination, and Paralysis.
"I really like this new lab where I'm working, but I'm always terrified that I'm not going to do a perfect job. So, I put off a lot of what I have to do until way after deadlines, or I'll rush through at the last minute and screw up. The more I screw up, the more I keep expecting to get fired. Anytime my supervisor makes a comment, I take it personally and overreact. I'm always expecting that the world is going to come to an end because I've screwed up. Lately, I've gotten so far behind that I've been calling in sick. I just can't face it."
Paul's stepfather had implanted in Paul the need to be perfect-Perfectionism. Paul's fear of failing to do things perfectly led him to postpone doing them-Procrastination. But the more Paul put things off, the more they overwhelmed him, and his snowballing fears eventually prevented him from doing anything at all-Paralysis.
When I recently confessed to my therapist that I thought I needed to go on anti-depressants, she went through a "depression checklist" to see how bad it was. "Are you having trouble focusing on things like work?" was hard for me to answer, because I didn't want to admit it.
I procrastinate a lot. I do. I know I do. I think people don't usually notice because I still get things done on time, but hell, do I ever put off things for as long as possible. I feel terrible, because I don't know why. If it is something I enjoy, it's about 50/50. That 50% of the time where I am procrastinating, it's more that I am avoiding it and I know it's because of my deep fear of failing. Of doing it badly.
The past couple of months now however, I can't do it. I'm so overloaded with work that I can't exactly procrastinate, I can't meet deadlines (which I take as a sign of failure.), and then I freeze up which of course only makes things worse. A lot worse. At least in my mind. I walk the halls of my building expecting people to ask me why something isn't done and getting mad at me for it. Even if I wasn't given enough time to accomplish it. And then I'm mad because I feel like people are trying to get me to fail. That they want me to fail. And I am so angry they put me in that position.
So, it is kind of trippy to see this explained the way it is in the book.