Perhaps it might have been better to stop, assess the situation, and if necessary, hire professional painters and observe how they did the work, preferably from an easy chair. But I was stuck in the land of procrastination, and even if it was in spite of myself, I was determined to finish the job. Somewhere between somehow and eventually, I finished painting my apartment. I recall feeling good for a short while, and feeling a sense of relief as well. However, as soon as that warm glow of satisfaction began fading, in its place I began reviewing, examining and criticizing the efforts that had brought that job to a close: "Why didn't I finish it sooner?" "It really wasn't that difficult, was it? Why am I so dumb?" "What's wrong with me?" The typical habitual procrastinator lives in a self-contained and depressive world that, for the most part, consists of unrealistic expectations, broken self-promises, and frustration. We target ourselves with character assassination by placing unrealistic and unattainable demands upon ourselves. Plodding through life, we harbor anger at what we perceive of as an uncooperative world filled with people who seem more able and more capable of routinely coping with tasks--the same tasks that drive us to distraction. Yet, for the most part, our anger is directed at ourselves. Having your act together is making sure you are never helpless. When I learned this, it hit me like a brick wall because I realized I always felt helpless because I was doing it to myself. I was always putting MYSELF in the compromising position of feeling and being helpless. Nothing robs you of your power, confidence, and self-esteem more than feeling helpless and needing something you could provide to yourself if you're smarter and more strategic in your thinking, planning, and execution, but you're not. Not being helpless is making sure you always have, have access to, and can get what you want and need. It's putting yourself at a level of "f*ck you". It's making sure you're always able to provide for yourself and your family everything that is needed. It's making sure you never have to borrow money or anything else and become slave to a lender. It's making sure you are never in a position where you have to give someone or some company power over you because you don't have the power to make it happen yourself. When you, irresponsibly, spend yourself broke and eliminate your financial options, you put yourself in a helpless position. When you choose to smoke cigarettes, do drugs, and make unhealthy food choices for years and years and have severe health problems, you put yourself in a helpless position.

Stop making yourself helpless. Stop engineering situations where you wind up being helpless. Others, who don't have their act together, like to think, pretend, and communicate that they're helpless so they won't have to make an effort. You are not helpless. You have the same opportunities as everyone else. You choose what to do with your 24 hours each day. You choose who and what to surround yourself with. You choose not to help yourself when it's needed. If you are willing and focused, you can avoid ever being helpless. The Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology at the Imperial College in London has published a study of twenty healthy volunteers who received intravenous LSD on one occasion and a placebo on a second. The pharmaceutical-quality LSD produced "robust psychological effects"--as we would imagine--not just right away but, notably, for some time after the drug was taken. Researchers reported increased optimism and openness two full weeks after taking LSD. While the acute effects at the time the drug was administered included psychotic thinking (e.g., paranoia and delusions), these did not persist, and curiously the subjects did not report distress but rather were apt to describe a positive mood and even a "blissful" experience. LSD exerts its neurochemical effects on our brain's serotonin system. One particular serotonin receptor, 2A, seems to be central to its effects; when it is blocked by an antagonist specific to this receptor, then the psychedelic effects are not achieved. (This was shown not with LSD but with psilocybin, another psychedelic drug that amplifies serotonin action in the brain.) The London researchers excluded subjects under twenty-one and those with personal or family histories of mental or substance use disorders or with a significant general medical condition or who were pregnant. But that does not exclude a lot of people who might consider taking LSD. This is a silly notion when one thinks about it. In the ordinary course of living, we see every day how physical changes to our bodies and surroundings also impact the way we think. If we drink a cup of coffee, for example, the caffeine we have just consumed affects our body by raising our heart rate.

This effect isn't just physical, it also impacts our cognition. We feel more awake. We think more quickly. So too, we often think more slowly just after we have eaten a heavy meal. We have a harder time being creative in the late afternoon than we do in the early morning. And so on. Nonetheless, the notion that the mind and body are separate things is deeply rooted in our culture (no matter how much contemporary science and philosophy have served to disprove it). We, therefore, tend to assume that our thoughts are purely internal and that nothing we change about our external behavior or surroundings can affect them. For many people with anxiety, panic, depression, and related illnesses, this can lead to a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. One can't control one's thoughts, and there they are. This is part of the reason why, even though cognitive behavioral therapy has the best track record of any method of treatment - and has been recommended by the leading professional associations of mental health practitioners - it is still regarded by many patients with suspicion. People who are suffering anxiety and panic are often in so much emotional distress that they do not have hope that cognitive behavioral methods could be effective. Although I don't know for certain the exact moment in time when I first began procrastinating, I can easily recall many times when it caused me great upheaval. Once, while working as a temporary office assistant at a television network in midtown Manhattan, I failed to see what all the fuss and bother was about a contract that needed to be sent overnight to Hollywood. The next morning my supervisor came by, and she appeared more appalled over my lack of concern about the contract, still lying on my desk, than for the contract itself. Although I can now see that her concern was justified, I recall thinking at the time, "If it was so important, why did they trust it to a temp in the first place?" By the time of that incident, procrastination had already ingrained itself into my life so thoroughly that it hadn't occurred to me that my job wasn't just about taking care of things, like contracts, which I hadn't done: it was more about taking care of my employer's needs. It almost goes without saying that my job lived up to its name--"temporary," and ended just a few days later. Another time, a lawyer, whom I was assisting, complained that I spent too much time trying to figure out how to "do" something, rather than just "doing it." Once again, I was only able to see the situation from my perspective, which left me wondering how one is supposed to simply "do." At other moments, supervisors griped that although I did my work, it took me too long to get things done. While I strove to keep my emotions in check, I focused on the basics of my job, cringing whenever a superior suggested that I undertake a new responsibility. Here are some other comments I received in the workplace: When faced with a task, I made "mountains out of molehills." One supervisor told me she suspected that I was "avoiding work." Another supervisor complained that I "thought too much."

As you move forward and learn, grow, and become, you will feel resistance. It'll come from people, yourself, and life. People will tell you you're working too hard, you're too focused, it's too much, and you need to give yourself a break. To stop being so hard on yourself. The childish part of your mind will create micro emotions, excuses, complaints, and reasons you should slow down, take a break, and not be so hardcore and extreme about it. When you develop new habits, your inner-child resists the change and the growth. It finds the pressure hard to handle. It doesn't like feeling of being uncomfortable. Life places challenges and obstacles in front of you at the worst times. Multiple bad things will happen at one time and you will feel like giving up. As soon as things look good, life will slap you in the face to keep you from getting too comfortable. Resistance will always be present and those who never get their act together and become the person they want to be give up and stop moving at the first sign of it. They allow the resistance to become stronger than they are. They allow it to hold them down. Someone or something will always resist you. You will always resist yourself - and this is good. When you exercise, the resistance of gravity helps you and your muscles become stronger because you're taking what could hurt you and using it to your advantage. The same happens with your thoughts, emotions, behavior, habits, and mind. When push through the resistance instead of letting it hold you down and stop you, you become stronger. You work those logical, emotional, behavioral, habitual, and mental muscles.

You make yourself stronger. You learn lessons and become wiser. When you feel resistance, think, "Good. Time to become better." The London researchers are not new to the science of psychedelics or the seeking of routes to change our reality in beneficial ways. Their work identifies altered connectivity between two regions in the brain, the hippocampus and cortex, strongly correlated with states of "ego-dissolution" and "altered meaning." (The use of microdoses of LSD will be discussed in chapter 6, "Principles of Treatment.") But LSD isn't the only mind-altering agent with potential medical uses. Psilocybin, or "magic mushrooms," has also been well studied. It has been used at Johns Hopkins and New York University, as well as by the Imperial College, for the treatment of anxiety in cancer patients, and researchers at UCLA have also done pilot work using psilocybin for smoking addiction. Over five hundred administrations of psilocybin at Hopkins and NYU have not produced any serious negative side effects. Some researchers even wonder about its beneficial effects on addictions other than smoking, as well as its utility in treating people with clinical depression. Ketamine, which has long been approved by the FDA as an anesthetic for surgery, has also received considerable media (and professional) attention for its rapid treatment of resistant depression. Ketamine has additionally been shown to have prompt effects in diminishing the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a serious, emotionally painful, and functionally impairing condition. Perhaps more research will reveal a role for it for addiction. So far, however, the utility of this drug is limited by its duration, which is usually only one week. Ketamine does not act through the serotonin system; instead, its action is at the glutamate receptor (seldom discussed despite its ubiquity in the brain). However, ketamine is also popular as a club drug, often called Special K, because of its euphoric effects, raising concerns about its abuse, diversion, and potential for addiction. Instead, many patients, when they first seek out professional help, are hoping they will be prescribed medication. In the throes of panic or anxiety, many people hope there is a simple drug they can take that will "make the fear go away." Many medications for psychiatric illnesses - known as Psychotropic Drugs, meaning that they affect one's mental state, of "psyche" - have been shown to be effective in treating these imbalances. Many people have benefitted from using medications to combat their anxiety and panic disorders. (Moreover, some people report positive results from taking natural supplements to help relieve anxiety, such as St. Johns-wort, valerian, ginseng, etc., though it is also important to do one's research before purchasing supplements, and not to expect too much from consuming these substances.