It didn’t take long after starting college for me to develop a furious eating disorder. I was simultaneously trying to fill an achingly empty hole in my heart and attempting to get a grip on a situation that was pointedly way beyond controlling. Thankfully, and because I’m really not one to put up with such senseless nonsense, the whole debacle didn’t last that long.
One of the ways I stopped it was this: I would imagine my five-year old self. And then I would ask myself: Would I do this to her? Would I stuff loads of food down her throat, then tell her she was disgusting for having eaten it and then force her to throw it up? GOD NO.
And I do not mean this in some cheesey inner-child kind of a way – I mean it in a ‘if you wouldn’t do it to a child, why in God’s name would you do it to yourself?’ way. The thought of doing any of those things to a child made me, ironically, want to barf. They put me off my self-inflicted torture for good.
Turns out, it’s a good trick – it works in many, many situations, it’s cross-problem applicable. Because we’re inclined to be nice to children. They’re so helpless and innocent. But adults? They should know better. They’re responsible and capable.
Introducing your Future Self
Which is why I was struck – as I was trying to make a rather big decision last night – when the magnificent and mind-blowing Kelly Diels said to me, “Think about your Future Self. Think about how this decision will affect her.” And then she asked me this: “Do you want to do that to her?”
Well, um, err, well…gulp. I hadn’t thought about her. Even though I think about telling super stories about the life I want, I hadn’t thought about the woman that would actually be living them. Or, rather, I hadn’t thought of her as different than me – you know, as different than the me of right now.
Huh. Just like that five-year old child, there is a her, a someone out there waiting. And the it was the realization of this distance – turning ‘me’ into ‘her’ even just for a slice of a moment – that unleashed the compassion and the caring that I am often so ready to give to others, but not, as it turns out, to myself.
Image credit: ILMO JOE
Join the discussion 12 Comments
Good stuff. Have “met you at right time. Must go and mull on this ….future me is waiting.
.-= Laurie´s last blog ..Post-It Note Tuesday #9 =-.
now that’s a fantastic question, and an equally fantastic answer.
great suggestion and perspective. Maybe it’s easier to separate from and be kind to our future selves than to our present selves. Or maybe it’s just easier to be friends with our future selves (hmmmm – wonder what implication – and story idea – this might provide for facebook?)
.-= ami´s last blog ..If We’re All in Sales – Who is YOUR Customer? =-.
Great post, Julie. Thank you!
.-= Heather Goff´s last blog ..Distraction is not all bad =-.
Perspective is everything. This is fabulous what you’ve written here. Thanks Julie.
There’s a whole branch of clinical therapy dedicated to the idea of deliberately writing our life stories to put our future selves in the plot we want them in. And it’s been high-school-counselor-level advice for years to imagine what we’d want said about us in our eulogies.
There’s nothing new to the idea of making decisions today to benefit our future selves. I’ve always heard it given as just deeply logical advice, though. It’s not inspiring, it just makes me feel guilty for things I don’t do right.
I love your perspective. I love the idea of approaching my future self as a friend, not a me that I’ve probably let down thousands of times. It’s transformational.
And I’m facing the same sort of life questions now, but from the other perspective. This angle makes it easy to commit the time and effort (and fear) now, because I so want future me to get to live the life I’m just starting to build.
.-= Aaron Pogue´s last blog ..Giving Up on the Gatekeepers (1 of 3) =-.
Hmm, I had not thought about that either, it makes a whole lot of sense. All the decisions that we are making now will impact our future selves, and I had not actually ever projected out to that future self to see if it was cool with her or not, or if she’d like that – great idea!
.-= Andi´s last blog ..5 Things Sex and The City taught me about life =-.
Both ways of seeing things touches me deeply. Especially the child. I’ve worked with future self in coaching clients, but the 5 year old child deeply touches me. Thank you.
.-= Julie Daley´s last blog ..Mother: You Are Enough =-.
Love this. I remember someone telling me when I was about 26-years-old that in a few years and with a little more life experience, that I would be fabulous. At the time, I was kind of insulted, but it turns out it was true. Now, I recognize that I’m just adding layers of fabulousness as I grow older and gaim more life experience. As are we all. Gotta keep that future increasing fabulousness in mind.
.-= Edgy Mama´s last blog ..Moog Ale, Asheville swimming teacher retires, and Monday =-.
Fabulous. Of course, Kelly Diels, but also the invitation extended in your writing, your words, your heart. Thank you.
.-= Ronna Detrick´s last blog ..We are heroines all. =-.
There is a truism in copywriting espoused by Gene Schwartz whereby copy threatening the reader never works.
Copy promising woe unto the reader’s family converts like crazy.
Wonder why that is? Must be a mammal thing.
.-= Dave Doolin´s last blog ..When is Spam so Bad it’s Good? (When it’s Saturday Morning Surfing, that’s when) =-.
Seriously, Dave? Gimme an example.