Will your future self be a success or failure, healthy or sick, happy or sad? We spend a lot of our time thinking, worrying and speculating about the future but I find that one way to cut through that preoccupation is to wish my future self well whatever happens.
After all, as I point out in my book Kindfulness, you don’t have total control over how your future will work out. Life is full of random events that can get in the way, whether the future we worry about is later today, next year or ten years from now. We don’t know what’s going to happen with our health, the economy, the political situation to name a few.
What I can do, though, is to wish my future self well in whatever circumstances I find myself, in other words wish myself well unconditionally. I think this practice can give us a certain assurance, as the future turns into the present, that we will be our own friends whether things turn out well or badly.
One way to do this is to generate a feeling of goodwill towards a friend or someone you love, perhaps wishing them well with words like ‘Be happy, be safe, be well.’ Then let that image fade and bring that feeling of goodwill to your future self, again using words like ‘Be happy, be safe, be well.’
Allow yourself to continue to experience that feeling of goodwill and well wishing for a few moments before bringing the practice to a close.
In removing or lowering the fear of how you might be in the future you reduce stress and lower stress is good for your health. You are also, in my view, more likely to engage in behaviours, such as exercise and healthy eating, that increase the chances of a better future. That’s because the less painful the future is in your eyes the easier it is to accept the value of doing what you can – within reason – now to take care of that future.
By the way, the future in question doesn’t have to be years away. It can be tomorrow, next week, next month: it’s all the future. Self-compassion for that future is a gift you can give yourself right now.
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