myself stuck in many of the unconscious conflicts that you describe,
the most striking of which has been outbursts of anger and
blaming my parents. . . . My question
regards study and self-discipline. I have had a consistent problem of serious
procrastination since about the 7th grade (it was also during this grade
that I discovered pornography and became addicted to it and that I began
to spend many hours on the Internet). This procrastination has led to the
near failure of [a] class in high school and my failing a class
last year in college; I also had to drop another class. . . .
I feel as though I’m taking a gamble every semester between getting
my work done at the last possible minute (quite literally) [staying
up] all night and failing the class.
found that if I can at least study with another person around,
then I can get some work done, but having someone to study with isn’t
always possible and the results have been mostly inconsistent.
issue that I’ve noticed especially in the past few months is that I
lack motivation to get things done. I even feel as though the love of God
is not a strong enough motivator in my life due to my own brokenness. When
asked by my spiritual director if there was anyone I could be accountable
to that would motivate me to get my work done, I responded that I couldn’t
think of anyone to be accountable to. I feel like I’m aimlessly floating
this way and that, doing my work on a whim, if I do it at all.
as though I understand in my mind that I need to enter deeply into the spiritual
life and be healed through God’s grace of any past hurt that I’m
carrying, but I continuously stumble over the same problems, such as
procrastination and masturbation. I’m also almost always constantly
fatigued (although this probably might be due to sleep
can I discipline myself to study well? What can I do to stop procrastinating?
Do you have any advice for studying? What else do you think is going on
rom your first sentence, we both
know that anger at your parents is behind your problems, but merely knowing
about the anger doesn’t do anything to resolve it. Instead, it will be
important to understand how and why the anger affects you in everyday
Let’s begin by examining
what happened when you were in 7th grade. This is a time of puberty—when
you would have been about 13 years old—that marks the entrance into
sexual maturity, and, by extension, into
adult social responsibility. From what you
have told me, I surmise that, because of your parents’ failures, you
faced the prospect of puberty with considerable uncertainty. Without the
guidance of someone showing you how to face the unknown mysteries of life
with confidence in God, you would have been crippled with fear at the prospect
of facing the unknown obligations of adulthood.
Moreover, when all the manipulative
aspects of sexuality were imposed on you through pornography at this time of
adolescent crisis, you had no opportunity to develop a stable identity other
than that of a slave to lust and hatred.
Meaning of Masturbation
In this context, you used
masturbation to provide a form of self-soothing
and a feeling of control. Yes, masturbation feels good in the moment;
nevertheless, it is a failure of sexual
responsibility because it distorts the reproductive function into mere
self-serving pleasure. Hence we can see the spiritual danger of masturbation:
it’s a non-achievement that provides the
illusion of achievement. At its core is
anger at your father (and your mother, as may also be
the case) for not comforting and guiding you when, in the face of impending
responsibility, you felt vulnerable and
Meaning of Procrastination
procrastination can be understood
psychologically as a sort of mental paralysis that arises when you face the
fear of the unknown.
It all results because of a lack in your father’s guidance when you
most needed it. Thus, with no accountable person around, your journey into
mature life became an aimless wandering without a guide—and so it can
be said that your every action was not much more than a whim. Therefore,
when new tasks appear in front of you now, you freeze psychologically. Behind
it all, at its core, is anger at your father for not
motivating you when you most needed
Thus it can be said that
procrastination is not just a matter of not knowing how to do something,
but that it’s an emotionally poignant matter of despair about what you
do know: it’s a matter of knowing that you lack confidence in how
to do something combined with knowing unconsciously that your father
has failed to prepare you to do anything combined with a subtle knowing
that, in your despair, you are afraid to do it right now—afraid of your anger,
afraid of being frustrated, and afraid of being criticized if you were to make a
How to Stop
Understanding this, we can now
proceed to describe what you need to do to stop procrastinating.
First, admit to yourself that
your father’s failures have had real and practical consequences in your
daily life and have led especially to your own failures. When you experience
a lack of motivation (or a lack of discipline, or distraction when trying
to study, etc.) tell yourself, “This is happening because of how my
father failed me.” The point here is not to blame your father so as
to punish him, but to take the blame off yourself. Your difficulties
don’t mean that there is something wrong with you—the real problem
is that you have been cheated of something you very much need. Furthermore,
this means that with proper guidance you can acquire what is now lacking
A Father to Yourself
Second, resolve to become a
“father” to yourself. Instead of staying stuck in blaming your
father for what you don’t have, and in unconsciously punishing him with
your failures, focus on taking personal responsibility to provide for yourself
with what has until now been lacking in you. This is easier said than done,
so there are three things you can hope in to overcome your
psychological guidance, such as
you are now receiving from my writing, and do whatever it takes to
learn from it.
Hope also in a growing
cooperation with your own
so that your unconscious will be an ally in learning. Realize that your
unconscious is not “out to get you”; it is, in essence, the truth
of your life, which, until now, you have largely suppressed because, in not
having your father’s guidance in how to appreciate it, you have
feared it. Through your psychological work of
healing you will find that your unconscious can
be a trusted source of enlightenment.
Hope also in
prayer, which will become more and more meaningful
to you as you let go of your anger at your father
and come to see God not as a reflection of your father’s failures but
as He really is: your truest and deepest
Third—speaking of letting
go of anger at your father—begin to discharge the static buildup of
desiring the satisfaction of “hurting your father as he has hurt you.”
This sort of satisfaction is called
revenge; it traps you in blame, and it is
revealed for what it is when the grace of God cures your psychological
blindness and you see that all your failures
have had one secret intent: to hurt your father.
Your true success now will depend
on giving up the satisfaction of hurting your father. You can do this by trusting
that justice belongs to God; this means that your
father will have to answer to God for his failures, not to you. This is not a
matter of condemning your father, because his destiny depends on whether he has
contrition before God for all his failures; it’s not your job to “save” your
father, so leave his judgment before God in the merciful
hands of God. The best you can do for your father is relinquish your anger at him.
Having done that, you will be free to pursue real achievement for the love of God.
Up until now, in your anger at your father, you have been unconsciously seeking
failure so as to punish him; now you can seek your personal achievement in all
things, and in doing so you will exalt God the Father. This “discharge” of anger
is called forgiveness because it is the cessation of your secret hatred for
your father and the beginning of genuine love for God.
Follow this guidance and you
will become a “father”—to yourself and to all God’s children.
In summary, then, when faced
with any new task, (a) remind yourself that you fear the unknown and doubt
yourself because your father failed to provide you with comfort and motivation
and that his failures have crippled you; (b) in spite of your doubts, bring the
pain before God by telling Him how you feel while relying upon the hope of receiving
real guidance and comfort from God in a way you have never known before; and (c)
then call upon His justice while you offer your true successes and achievements
from now on for use in His service—and also as a special gift to your
father, that someday his eyes, too, might be opened.
Above all, cling to the knowledge
that with prayer and psychological guidance you now have all the resources you
need to succeed in life, despite what your parents failed to give you.
A Similar, but Different
Writer’s Block is an issue
that is related to but different from procrastination as described above. Whereas
procrastination derives from anger at at father, writer’s block usually
results from anger at a mother.
Writer’s block tends to result
from some current pressure to be productive; it can be as if you are being forced
to make your words speak “lies” rather than let them speak your own
truth. This pressure can build to such a frustratingly intense creative blockage
you are re-experiencing the frustration from your childhood when your own mother pressured
you in one way or another. Maybe your mother was sarcastic, belittled you, never
listened to you, had fixed ideas about you, gave you no sympathy, and showed you no
respect. However it manifested, the pressure from your mother was all about her and
her needs, and so it completely missed the point about you and your reality. Hence,
when you were a child, you were being pressured to function in the face of constant lies
Back then, the anger was so intense—and
led to such guilt—that you had to suppress it. Now, as
an adult writer, the pressure to produce (even if it may be self-induced pressure)
rekindles that old anger. In this sense, writer’s block is analogous to apathy,
a particular form of anger that leaves you unable even to speak.
To get past this blockage, it will be important
to understand that all of that pressure your mother put on you had the effect of inducing
you to “worship” her; that is, she imprisoned you in a fear that you could not
function without acquiescing to her demands. That fear now functions unconsciously in you
like a curse, such that you are terrified that if you follow your own desires—i.e.,
follow your own truth and stop worshipping your mother—you will be doomed. Therefore,
it will be necessary that you see the writer’s block as a curse that must be broken
with firm renunciation, as in the following deliverance prayer.
IN the name of our Lord Jesus
Christ I renounce the spirits of anger and fear and the bondage they have over me.
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I renounce the negative belief that I must worship
my mother and serve her demands, and I renounce the unhealthy behavior of writer’s
block to which am prone and the bondage it has over me.
I affirm my love for God and my trust in His
perfect justice and providence, such that in the face of
our Lord Jesus Christ no curse can function. Amen.
A treasure of a resource for psychological and spiritual healing. Information
gathered from my websites (including this webpage) is now available at your fingertips
in book form.
Falling Families, Fallen Children by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. Do
our children see a mother and a father both living in contemplative love for
God with a constant awareness of His presence and engaged in an all-out battle
with the evil of the world? More often than not our children don’t see living
faith. They don’t see protection from evil. They don’t see genuine, fruitful
devotion. They don’t see genuine love for God. Instead, they see our external
acts of devotion as meaningless because they see all the other things we do that
contradict the true faith. Thus we lose credibility—and when parents lose credibility,
children become cynical and angry and turn to the social world around them for
identity and acceptance. They are children who have more concern for social approval
than for loving God. They are fallen children. Let’s bring them back.