As an exercise, I asked a group of women I was treating for eating disorders to imagine their future selves, the person they want to be, the version of themselves they were striving for. Then I asked them to write a letter from that person to them now today, offering advice, wisdom, encouragement, or whatever their future self wanted to say. After they did the assignment, we processed it in group. I asked them what the experience was like. Many of them said they noticed it was much easier to give themselves compliments and encouragement as their future self than their present self. I asked them “Why?” They said it was because writing a letter from a future version of themselves allowed them to separate themselves from self, and to step out of their minds for a minute. I asked them if they would be able to verbalize what they wrote in the letter to themselves in present time, right now, if they were alone in front of a mirror. They all said no way.
By shifting their lens and living outside of self, they were able to accept compliments and encouragement more than if they were inside their minds. In group, my clients were able to love themselves more by living outside of self. I wondered if they were able to be encouraging and more gentle with themselves in a letter, could they start being that way off paper. Most of them had low self esteem. They were extremely hard on themselves which resulted in behavior that lead them to their disease. The letter proved they had the ability to see themselves differently and talk to themselves in a positive light. Now it was a matter of practice.
They needed to cut themselves in half. Let go of the old — all their false beliefs, lies they tell themselves, broken records, thought patterns, and start pulling from the new — the best version of themselves. The cut is what’s important. It means there is a before and an after. It sets your mind up to lean into something new. And release the old.
PRACTICE: Cut Yourself in Half
Imagine the highest self actualized version of yourself. Imagine how that person thinks, behaves, and what she believes about herself. What’s her energy like? How does she enter a room? How do people respond to her?What are her gifts and what does she have the ability to do? Now write a letter from that person to you. What would the future version of you tell yourself today? Maybe all the lessons you’ve learned and how to maneuver through life better? Maybe you need to remind yourself who you are and all the gifts you posses? But the goal isn’t to force praise. Be real with yourself and write something honest. That’s more important.
Now that you’ve written something from a different perspective, you have a better understanding and feeling of who your future self is like. Imagine you embodying that future version of you. Like a spirit taking over a body, your future self is now inside you. Notice the new energy. What does that feel like? All the things you imagined your future self to be, including life wisdom, how your future self thinks, feels, and everything she can do, is now inside you. The old has died. The new breathes and lives inside you and speaks a brand new language.
There is the old. And there is the new. When you find yourself getting in your head, pulling from false beliefs, and playing old records, know that that is the residue of your old self. Pull from your new future self by allowing that person to speak. Listen to this new you and do what it says and feels. Daily, moment by moment. Feel the future version of you, the one that wrote that letter, living and breathing inside you. It will be scary and awkward at first to allow that version of you to be in the driver’s seat. But the more you allow and trust your future self to guide and dictate your choices, the higher your potential will be. Because your potential doesn’t live in the old you. It lives in the person you always imagined you would be. But you don’t have to imagine anymore. It’s already inside you. You just have to listen to her and allow her to live.
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