The power of knowing your future self
Today, I would like to talk about your future self. The idea is that we can engage with our future selves, by answering the question, “Who are you becoming?”
The person we want to become is generally based on our past experiences and past self - our past life script or programming. Because let’s face it, that’s all we have to go on. We weren’t born fully programmed, other than the primitive brain's auto-response to danger (flight, fight or freeze). Growing up we develop our own unique programming through the powerful influence of parents, caregivers, siblings and teachers.
Human programming can be direct or indirect. Indirect means our own 'interpretation' that we as individuals place on the influence of others. The life script decisions we make about ourselves and the world around us can arise from interpersonal misunderstandings, as well as unequivocal directives from powerful others.
Also, it could be worth bearing in mind that some directives (and injunctions) from significant people in your life are likely to be based on their own insecurities or programming from their parental upbringing e.g. “Is that the life you want for yourself?” The past cannot create what we are truly capable of and limits our personal development and capacity for growth. That said, my interest is in how we program or reprogram ourselves toward our future selves and be our future selves in the present moment - becoming the person you want to be, right now.
However, If we are basing our future self on the past, it’s likely we will be saying to ourselves, "Oh, I couldn’t do that! I don’t believe that’s possible! I’ve never tried that! I don’t think it would work for me!" This doesn't work so well for personal growth because you’re only referencing your past self. These are also called obstacles based on what life coaches call limiting beliefs.
One way we can break through limiting beliefs is to fully 'imagine' our future selves. The person we want to be - in colour and in detail. When we focus our imagination on what or who we want to be, it challenges our brain to re-think what’s possible. Your future self can become a reality. So where do we start? Well, first of all, remember the brain loves habits - ease and familiarity. That’s why we default to repeating the past. Instead, we must take our time and focus on having a clear and realistic understanding of who we want to be, and in so doing we are halfway to becoming that person. The other half requires a commitment to the process and will also require you to become the lead actor in your own life film - with your brand new script! Who you are is not already defined and immovable, but is the self you get to choose to create, by focussing on your future self.
Try not to define yourself by your history; you don’t need anyone else’s permission to be who you want to be. You can instead define yourself by who you are becoming. Imagine your future self as the best version of your imagined self. When you imagine your future self, you are in a thought process, and it’s your thoughts that will create your emotions that fuel your inspiration toward your future self.
If you don’t have a future self in mind, the first step is to fully know that who you are is created by you, and only by you! Don’t default to yourself, or others, as a source of blame and/or disempowerment. Instead say to yourself, “I am becoming someone who is ………” whatever you decide. It’s a good idea to be specific about what you wish to become. It’s also worth mentioning that our future self needs to know specifically how to change our inner world as well as our outer world, as these go hand in hand. For example, behaving confidently in our outer world is different from feeling self-confident in our inner world. Imagining our confident behaviour will feed into feeling self-confident that drives the inspiration for behaving confidently. But, I still believe it’s useful to 'imagine' how self-confidence feels in situations where you would lack self-confidence with your past self.
Occasionally there can be a conflict between your past self and your imagined future self. However, you can empower your future self to persevere and 'rewrite' your life script. In fact, re-write your script, memorise your script, feel the power of your script, and then 'act' your script. As a method actor often continues to play his acting role outside of filming, you can stay in the role of your future self in the present moment. Some people might argue that acting as your future self is at least inauthentic. But I could also say that replaying your past self over and over again isn’t authentic either! My advice is to take action, not for the person you want to become, but as your future person. Be that person, now! In other words, what you are skilfully doing is managing your brain as a means of managing your life. You can live your day from your future self, inspired by how you feel in this space of your future self. It's possible to make your future self extraordinary.