ARTICLE: Learning From Your Future Self

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futureThere seems to be an unwritten rule that states if you are going to be taken seriously in the field of personal development as a therapist, coach or trainer, then you have to have been completely screwed up at least once in your life!

Well, I’m not convinced that this is absolutely necessary but, to be on the safe, you might be glad to know that, yes, life hasn’t always been as rosy for me as it is right now. Not that you’d be glad that I was miserable (I hope), but that I can speak from experience about pulling myself up by the bootstraps to create a life that far exceeds any level of happiness I had previously thought possible.

I’ll bore you with the details another time, but I well remember a period in my life when I was broke, alone, with no fixed address, completely depressed and filled with thoughts of ending it all. I really couldn’t see a way out of the dark hole I was in; my problems seemed to suffocate me like a heavy black curtain. But the most significant thing about this whole episode is that, looking back now, I wouldn’t change a second of it.

If it wasn’t for that time and all the experiences that went along with it I definitely would not be sat here writing this for you now.

I have nothing but gratitude for the opportunity I was given to face up to life’s challenges and to grow beyond measure. But did I know at the time that I’d be looking back now with a smile on my face and a deep sense of richness and lust for life? Of course not.

Back then my issues seemed too big to peer over; they were all-encompassing. The question I asked myself was “why is this happening?” rather than “what am I learning?” Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and it teaches us time and time again that there are hidden lessons in our suffering.

I know it’s an old cliché but what doesn’t kill you certainly does make you stronger, because of what you learn. When the light is cast on those secret inner strengths you have it is impossible to poke them back under the surface and pretend that they are not there, because they instantly form an important part of a newer more evolved you. They become tools for your toolbox that can be selected and used whenever you need them again in the future. The knowledge that you have those tools is what gives you that sense of certainty that if you had to face the same situation again you’d be ok.

If only we could recognise the lessons we are being taught at the time of going through those rough patches. Well, what’s to stop us?

Time is a very funny thing, if for no other reason than that it is entirely a figment of our imagination. That being the case, we are as affected by our thoughts of time as we are by the actual experience of time, and this can be very useful indeed.

It means we have the ability to project our thoughts out into the future and imagine what it would be like to look back at this moment (now) as an older and wiser version of ourselves. How cool is that?

It’s amazing what changes can happen to your perception of a problem when you know how to shift your thinking to an entirely different position.

Much of the work I do with people is based on the simple principle that the human mind cannot tell the difference between an actual event and one that is vividly imagined. By thinking of yourself from a future stand point, having already come through the other side of what you are currently experiencing, your mind has to go through the process of coding that thought as an actual experience; a memory of the future! A memory in which you are able to clearly see how a current challenge will have helped you to grow and develop into a stronger, wiser version of you.

Most of the problems we face in life are not what we think they are. Most of our problems stem from us not being able to see that we are growing. Growing simply means learning something we didn’t know before.

When you hold onto the notion that “right here, right now” (which is all we ever have) is only a lesson for making the future better than today, you have to conclude that, you know what? You’re going to be ok.

Homework:

You don’t have to be going through any particular difficulty in your life to have a great time doing this exercise, but if you are, then you might want to give this your full attention o)

1, Take a moment to close your eyes and let yourself relax.

2, Imagine that you can float out of your body and travel off into the future where you re-enter the body of your older, wiser self.

3, Realize that as you look back you are really happy and satisfied with the life you have led. You acknowledge that it has not always been plain sailing but that the challenges you have met along the way have been the source of your strength and have provided the positive lessons you need to master.

4, As the future you, think back to the time you are ‘visiting’ from and understand why that was such an important period for you and your development. Think of at least three ways in which you are better off because of it (even though you may not have recognised it that the time!!). E.g. “Ah yes, I remember that time. I’m grateful for losing my job back then because it made me evaluate what is really important to me. I got to develop a much healthier attitude towards money which set me on a whole new path that has allowed me to be a better more positive expression of the real me.”

5, Stay with it for as long as you need to and when you’ve got a good feeling about how that challenge needed to happen in the way it did in order to contribute to the bigger, more positive picture of your life, rise out of the future you and float back in time to rejoin yourself in the present moment.

6, Holding onto that deeper sense of inner knowing, get on with the rest of your day with the realization that you’re living the lessons you need to learn for your amazing future.

Namaste.

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