“A man who gives his children habits of industry provides for them better than by giving them fortune” – Richard Whately
Could the way you are treating yourself now be a reason for your future self to look back and hate the current you?
The actions you take or do not take today are a reflection of how you value yourself tomorrow. Any time that you procrastinate or you make decisions without thinking of the consequences. Any time you avoid situations because they may be too painful now could cause you more pain in the future. This openly says ‘this is what I think of you tomorrow’ and ‘So what if you are now going to be so over-loaded – I really can’t be bothered with you today’.
You can find yourself looking back at yourself with anger and disappointment because of what you have done to yourself. And then the big-beat-the-crap-out-of-myself-stick comes out. And you don’t like yourself.
Don’t get me wrong here. There will have been situations where you knew no better. Where you protected yourself through denial or you tried your best to do the right thing at the time. You made the best decision you could have made at the time with the knowledge you had. I am not talking about those times. Those are bigger and deeper issues than what I am talking about here and need to be dealt with in a totally different way.
I am talking about those seemingly small things that are a lot easier for us to have a grip on. It is those moments of cowardice or laziness when we make small unconscious decisions to avoid something simply because we just don’t feel like doing it.
Some of mine are: I will just watch one more episode; I will just play one more game; I will just have one more biscuit; I will just have one more drink; I will cut the garden tomorrow; I will fix that leak when I am not as tired. These lead to me being tired or wasting time I could be doing something useful and the next day I have more to do and less energy to do them!
The first few times I do it I am consciously telling myself a lie. And over time I create a habit process, where I am longer thinking about it consciously. I go through the process of thinking I am thinking, but good old auto-pilot says, “Oh you leave that with me. I have got this. I know exactly what to do”.
So, what can we do?
1. Make a conscious decision not to treat your future self so badly.
This is the most important step. This is the commitment part. Without this step, nothing else is going to work. To do this it may help to actually take some time out and think about all of the times you haven’t looked after the future you. Start by identifying as many as you can. Once you have 5 to 10 things, you automatically put this on your minds radar, and you are likely to start noticing more.
2. Catch yourself each time you are doing it.
This is the moment of action, where you become conscious again. You know absolutely what you are doing. You have caught yourself in the act and it is time for a bit of tough love. You have to say, ‘No’. And if you remember Step 1, you will make the right decision.
3. Imagine it is a child you are looking after
See the decision you are making as one for a child right now, not about you. This changes your perspective. The thing about seeing yourself as a child is that we are never as hard on a child as we are on ourselves or another adult. There is more gentleness. The firmness is still there, but it stops it turning into a self-flagellation contest.
4. Keep a journal
By writing things down you are committing these to your memory and your focus. It reinforces what you are working on. It is also good to then look back on and see your progress.
5. See your future self happy and thanking you for making things easier
We all feel good when we are thanked for something. Even thinking about someone smiling at us and being grateful can create a sense of well-being and a feel good factor. These are motivating in themselves. Another way to reinforce this is to actually thank yourself for what you did yesterday that made your life easier today. Even if it is only for making sure you went to bed early so you feel less tired today. We are brought up to be grateful and say thank-you to others, but not to do it for ourselves. Often we neglect ourselves the most. It is a “give yourself a pat on the back” time and “Well done”. Gratitude, a sense of achievement, and feeling good for doing something kind for someone always gives us a lift.
What things do you know you do that make life difficult for yourself tomorrow? What have you come up with to change this?
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