When Life Throws You Curve Balls and Procrastination Ensues

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Aaaaand two years later… ?

This second episode is a continuation of what I started in February of 2019. I released the first episode and promptly fell into more trauma including a car accident, sexual assault at work, and a nasty lingering break-up. I do not go into detail about WHAT caused me to lose my momentum, but rather WHY and HOW one deters from their intended path in the first place.

This episode touches on procrastination, self-sabotage, neuroplasticity, the four stages of competence, the three stages of trauma recovery, and more… Thank you for you patience with me in this release, technology was attacking me the entire time I tried to record this – so I hope you enjoy!!

Episode 2 Transcript:

Alright. Let’s scratch everything I had pre-written for this episode because, since March 2019, when I initially started writing this one… guess what? LIFE HIT ME AGAIN WITH ANOTHER CURVE BALL THAT I WASN’T READY FOR… and then another… and then another… and now it’s been over two years. Who can relate? Who else feels like every time they embark on something new or get settled into something that they are actually happy with – that SOME OUTSIDE FORCE has it in for them and uproots any plans they had in place?

WELL YOU’RE RIGHT… to an extent. How would you feel if I told you that you did have SOME control over your external reality? You may not be able to control the events that occur around you or the other people in your life, but you can control your reaction to them – you can control what is happening WITHIN you. It IS POSSIBLE to get to a place where you can essentially choose your emotional response to something outside of yourself, even if you may not feel like you are there right now.

Now, I’m not saying it’s EASY to get to this place, or that one can get to it overnight – everyone’s process and journey is different, and everyone learns at a different pace. Heck, I’m still recalibrating my own system – and I’ve improved significantly!! Look, I’m actually writing again… Regardless, when you’re trying to learn how to control or at the very least, UNDERSTAND this part of yourself, it is almost inevitable that procrastination will ensue due to your lack of personal emotional control and intrinsic understanding. Or maybe your intrinsic understanding has been established to such a degree that you simply stop yourself because you know that sharing yourself in this new way will show your vulnerability and humanness to others? I’m here to share with you that, THAT, that vulnerability is exactly what this world needs right now – to know and see that vulnerability and humanness is okay. We have been dehumanized as a collective and we inadvertently have done this to ourselves because we were operating on a lower level of consciousness. We’re waking up. We are stepping into our individual alignments, but we are fragmented and are still trying to control parts of ourselves that rebel against any threat that seems to be trying to take away their autonomy – we are rebelling against ourselves due to a misguided sense of self-love. Self-sabotage isn’t real, but I’ll get into detail on that in a later episode. 

I digress, I’m going to stop using the word control for a moment because I can feel this resistance coming up within me as I write. There is a part inside of myself that resists doing what I know is in alignment with myself because in the past, I have been shamed for doing what I enjoy. So, as a result, as soon as I start doing what I enjoy… I find some way to have it shut down either by placing blame on things or those around me or by distracting myself with an activity that I think would be more productive in the bigger picture or better for someone else, for that moment… In doing this, I keep getting myself stuck and surrounded by feelings, environments, and people that feel – familiar, but I recognize don’t necessarily meet my needs because I don’t feel good when I experience and embrace these things. Calling myself out here. This part that is resistant to me experiencing the joy I have cultivated for myself through writing, art and science, or teaching… is the same part that struggled with feelings of self-worth or was denied innocence and wonder while growing up. Complacency and apathy become an easier option when one is so psychologically exhausted from a single or series of trauma. In terms of complex trauma diagnoses, this pattern can then get confused for general anxiety, therapy-resistant depression, or a multitude of other mental health issues – I’ll elaborate on this in future episodes as well. It’s a vicious cycle of “self-sabotage” that leads to procrastination, a lack of motivation, and feelings of worthlessness because you can feel yourself choosing not to act or care – because it’s familiar… and easy. However, once you’re in awareness, you CAN make this cycle work FOR you instead. This starts by recognizing the protection mechanism at play in this cycle and you are not actually turning against yourself in those moments, instead – your fragmented system is trying to cultivate safety – all parts of yourself are simply trying to cultivate safety. 


This cycle that I’m referring to usually begins with an event or setback in your external reality, one seemingly out of your control. The way you choose respond will determine how this cycle will roll out. 

I’m not going to pretend I invented these cycles, as anyone who has done any personal development will be familiar with the TFAR cycle and Big Mo – your thoughts attract your feelings which determine the action you will take, thus giving you your results. In basic terms, it is the Law of Cause and Effect. Big Mo refers to Momentum or Newton’s First Law – where an object at rest tends to stay at rest, or if in motion will stay in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force.

Now, an individual who has suffered through and survived something traumatic will usually respond in an almost automated or obedient way, until they gain awareness of their pattern and can start stabilizing themselves through support groups, creative outlets, psychotherapy, and LOTS of internal “shadow work”. This cycle can occur with events that are supposedly positive as well, such as getting engaged/married, buying a house, or having a baby. Allow me to explain my version of the TFAR cycle in terms of complex PTSD.


The negative emotions and logical process that I’m referring to are usually coming from an automated subconscious area of our psyche that allows us to tell ourselves that what occurred is our faults. That the event in question was unavoidable and we DESERVED it; for many of us survivors, this pathway in our brains would have been created during our development as children when we were too young discern what was happening to us. That an abuser decided to abuse someone vulnerable or well-meaning loved ones were acting from their own wounding, rather than anything we inherently did. We can end up taking ownership of the situation, rather than observing it from a third-party perspective and are unable to detach. Either that, or we are TOO detached and can enter a place of denial when the trauma is too much to accept that it’s reality, so we essentially dissociate from any responsibility and become apathetic. In either case, it leads to the self-sabotaging act of procrastination. Then, we either panic and are unable to take decisive action because of how ungrounded and guilty we feel from blaming ourselves for what happened or, we reach a point of stagnancy from simply not wanting to accept the event. We find ourselves in a downward and unmotivated spiral of terribleness and darkness that seems to never lighten up. Like Newton’s First Law, you are at rest or the event that has occurred as placed you at rest. What we never really understand until we become aware of it, is that WE are the force that will get us moving again. Sure, we can find motivation or inspiration from things like podcasts, books, or whatever else humans decided to create and share – but WE are the only thing that will actually make a difference by the actions we choose to take, and the feelings we choose to feel. 

I’m going to take a moment for a quick disclaimer regarding the “feelings we choose to feel” that I just stated. I do understand how it feels to not be in control of your feelings and I want you to understand that when your nervous system is fragmented, it can be very difficult to connect to the original part of you that a particular emotion is coming from without the help of a therapist or safe loved one. If you are struggling with emotional regulation, reach out to me for a free 15-minute consultation and I will either work with you to create a plan that we can work together on, or point you in the right direction for your individual needs. 

To get back on topic, choosing to want to change will attract to us the necessary tools that will help elicit that change. It really is up to us though – everything is – when you allow other people or situations to control how you respond; you are literally taking away your own power and CHOOSING to be the victim. That’s the message I tried to get across in my first episode. You can be an actual victim of circumstance, yes that is the reality of the event that occurred, but how you respond and attach yourself to the situation is what will determine if you are actually a victim. I want to stress how sorry I am that what happened, happened. You didn’t deserve it, you have never deserved anything aside from love, safety, and support. Please see that we are in this together.

I also want to say before I move on, that if you’re here and you’re recognizing that this is your cycle – THAT’S OKAY, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU FOR BEING HERE AND YOU ARE EXACTLY WHERE YOU NEED TO BE RIGHT NOW. However, now that you’re AWARE of where you are, it is up to you to figure out if you want to stay there or not. What do you actually want your life to look like? How do you actually want to feel? Change cannot occur unless awareness and conscious perception is present. For instance, it is a lot easier for me to sit back and read/prepare everything I want to put into my podcast episodes than choosing to sit down and write out my thoughts – and finally record them. I can tell you from personal experience that even doing SOMETHING is better than doing nothing, listen to yourself; and no, how you do anything is not how you do everything – different things will resonate with us for a time and then may stop and we have to put it down – AND THAT IS OKAY. 

Alright, so how does this cycle differ for someone who has done the work and is on the right path to a TRULY mentally healthy state?

Firstly, the event itself is not necessarily what is traumatic – it is the individual’s experience of the event that makes it traumatic, and this is because different individuals have differing windows of tolerance. A window of tolerance refers to the individual’s ability to cope. I’ll get more into trauma responses and the window of tolerance in another episode. For now, I’ll focus on the same event, but an alternative cycle.


Say a mentally healthy person experiences the same event – someone with a much wider window of tolerance because they have done the work or were simply taught secure attachment during development. They may experience all the same emotions as you just did, but they found a way to firstly get grounded and react from a place of stability – whether that has been done through the use of tools to help them in that situation or reaching out to someone for help who WILL ACTUALLY PROVIDE SUPPORT AND COMFORT. Sometimes victims of abuse will instinctively reach out to someone they KNOW has responded incorrectly to their needs in the past out of past conditioning and what they have learned love and support to be. True love and support do not shame – regardless of how you chose to respond when your trigger is active. True love and support react in a calm and grounded manner, setting a healthy boundary for themselves if your trigger is causing them harm or discomfort through their own self-expression, and are able to work with you to regulate your nervous system back into its window of tolerance or neutrality.

Now with that said I can continue the cycle explanation; the decisive action that the mentally healthy individual would take in the presence of an event occurring is one of three things: deliberate no action and simple observation (not the same as fawning in the flight, fight, freeze, and fawn model of trauma responses), some action that can neutralize or rectify the situation at hand, or some action that may not fix the situation entirely, but will make it a little easier to move on from or can at least get them to safety in that moment. The mentally healthy person also knows that even though it may FEEL like a decision needs to be made right away, this is rarely the case. Heck, sometimes the mentally healthy person will take DAYS to process an event, ideally with their support group or however they best emotionally regulate themselves – depending on what happened, obviously. It is when this processing turns into weeks, months, or years, or the events are a chronic and regular occurrence, that we begin to have real problems with our productivity and self-admiration or respect. When processing is taking this long, it is also usually due to us being unconsciously incompetent – I’ll get into this in a moment!

For clarification’s sake, ‘processing’ is the term that I like to use to refer to the act of becoming grounded and utilizing “positive” emotion and logic to one’s benefit. When one is trying to attain stabilization in the beginning, the processing timeframe will almost inevitably be longer (most likely a few months up to years depending on an individual’s self-awareness). Regardless of the event, all parts of ourselves have the goal of keeping us safe in any given moment – healing is healthy communication between parts of self. This protection part can take over completely in dangerous scenarios and healing from such traumas involve a conversation that is internal or with a therapist/trauma-informed coach between the adult self that experienced the trauma and the enacting part that fragmented during that traumatic moment. The unfortunate reality of our world is that so many of us were not adults when we went through something that may have been traumatizing to us and since it occurred during our neural development in the first 25 years of life, we typically accept what happened to us as something that is normal or should be expected… and then we wonder why we aren’t happy.

The point of me addressing all of this with you, as well as my version of it, is this: we live in a conscious universe (as newer Quantum Theories will dictate), and everything is energy on a basic level. Nikola Tesla said, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” Assuming the universe is conscious, and everything is energy and frequency, then it makes sense that certain events (like stress) will be attracted to you, if that is what you are exuding – even if from a place of automation or subconscious. It may seem like a harsh truth, but I promise you that things did not start changing for me until I accepted this for myself. Until I consciously started choosing to be in the present moment, there has been no in-between for how I responded to something. When something happened, it was either the best thing in the entire world, or the most devastating event that could have happened in the history of the world, ever. Mind you, I still have moments like this and sometimes when no one else is around to tell me to tone it down a notch, I need to do that for myself – as do you. Drastic up and down moods or experiences are a classic symptom of CPTSD, bipolar disorder, and several other mental health issues from the DSM-5. With that said, your trauma and successes are valid and not worth comparing to anyone else. However, bringing your awareness to the forefront of how you are responding to a particular event is the first step in stabilization and being aware of your patterns and tendencies can be frustrating in and of itself.

Congratulations though! Now that you are becoming AWARE of the steps you need to take; you have reached a place of conscious incompetence! I’m sure my fellow psychology and neuroscience nerds know I’m talking about the second stage of competence. Like me, many of you may even feel as though you have been stuck or migrating back and forth between this stage and stage three: conscious competence. 

Time to get your note-pads out if you haven’t already! There are four stages of competence and they are: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence. These stages apply whenever you are learning a new skill. Ah, yes, the ability to regulate your emotions is a skill and comes with experience or conscious practice (as we saw from the Pixar movie, Inside Out). 

  • Stage one or unconscious incompetence is when one is unaware of the skill and lacks proficiency. 
  • Stage two or conscious incompetence is when one is aware of the skill, but not yet proficient. 
  • Stage three or conscious competence is when one is able to USE the skill, but only with effort (and believe me, sometimes it requires A LOT of effort). 
  • Lastly, stage four or unconscious competence is when one’s ability to perform the skill becomes automatic, much like one’s automated and unaware responses in stage one. 

So, why is understanding this process important? Well, because the skill you just acquired can be honed even deeper – this, too, is a cycle. Oh, joy. Nature is cyclical, we are cyclical, as we are ALL part of the natural order.

Life has a funny way of making us feel as though we have mastered something, only to pull us back to re-live certain lessons we thought we had already learned. We are constantly being shown deeper and deeper levels of the same lessons. My entire year this year, has been like that and I’m sure MANY of you can relate to me. Honestly, if you asked me in 2014 if I had control and mastery of my emotions – I probably would have told you that I 100% did. However, when an individual’s trauma runs deep, either into their childhood or remains unresolved, our nervous systems can trick us into thinking we are more stable than we are on deeper levels of our psyche. This is where the term “high-functioning” stems from… Certain parts of self will take over for others if it allows us to feel as though we are moving on from a particular circumstance. When this happens and we become unconsciously competent at not fully integrating our experiences into ourselves, then the next big event life throws at you will set you back what seems like YEARS as you start repeating the patterns you picked up immediately following your first trauma or excitement. You try to stabilize the best way you know how, and how you did it before – only to find out that those methods are no longer working for you. This is why you are still listening to me.

This is neural plasticity in action – the ability of your brain cells to establish new connections or re-establish old connections based on external stimuli. Personal development and self-help books/podcasts will only take an individual so far. This is why trauma-focussed psychotherapy or trauma-informed coaching is so important because one is able to work WITH someone else that they have established trust with, in order to properly go through the Stages of Trauma Recovery. Firstly, the therapist or coach helps the client overcome their recognized dysregulation. Secondly, that therapist or coach using techniques like EMDR, hypnotherapy, or mind-body (somatic) therapies in order to help their client come to terms with the traumatic memory. Lastly, that therapist or coach helps the client fully integrate the memory into their life-long experience and move on once and for all. Moving forward for the time being, may feel positive and like it is helping in the moment, but it is not a permanent solution. Future episodes and content release will focus on the Neurobiology of Trauma and how to treat it – so that you can take this information to the right people and to get yourself back in order.

Self-Mastery is a life-long process because so many things can factor into our ability to do so, but there is a silver lining to this task. YOU are the ONLY one you have to spend the rest of your life with; thus, in my opinion, mastering yourself should be your primary focus so that you can bring that peace you eventually find within yourself, to other people. The beauty of humanity is that we all have our own ways of going about it and when we are open to it, we start attracting individuals who are willing to master themselves alongside us. Regardless, it all begins with overcoming the dysregulation (extensive emotional highs/lows) that we are experiencing through first establishing safety and stabilization. The next episode I release will begin with a detailed explanation of the three Stages of Trauma Recovery, adapted from Herman (1992). I intended to do this for this episode, but I wanted to be sure I covered the basics – before the basics – first. Also it’s been two years and I kind of needed to pre-frame and explain what was going on. After that, well, we’ll see where it goes – maybe I’ll tell you about my chaotic albeit beautiful two years.

I’ll leave you with another Nikola Tesla quote to ponder in the meantime though:

“The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.”

Maybe it’s the neuro-atypical individuals that will unlock the secrets to our universe? I suppose only time will tell… Until next time: Katie out.