5 Ways to Stop Your Future Self Hating You

“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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16 Responses to 5 Ways to Stop Your Future Self Hating You

  1. I’ve had moments in the past where I’ve thought “Do I really want this in my history?” – it’s a reality check.

    Your suggestion about thinking of small, everyday decision in terms of your future self is so powerful… it’s resonated with me and I love it!

    It’s a reminder that your future self is entrusting you with it’s development and because you’re “giving birth” to it, you are responsible for its upbringing.

    Thanks for a great post.

      

    • Keith says:

      Hi Reeta,

      A couple of things you have said there have shifted my thinking on this and are brilliant!

      “Do I really want this in my history?” and “giving birth” to your future self and being responsible for it’s “upbringing”. Wow! Very powerful concepts.

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing with us. I think those insights really add to the post.

        

  2. Vishnu says:

    Keith this is a good way to think about living life. Are the decisions we’re making today going to make us proud in the future or make us hate ourselves? Ok…I think that will immediately make me start feeling guilty about unstarted goals, wasted time, and procrastination!! YOur point about treating our future selves as children, however, is a good way to look at things so we are indeed gentle on ourselves and not too harsh:)

    All right – time to go do something for my future self. Something productive!

      

    • Keith says:

      Hi Vishnu,

      It is hard to imagine you being more productive than you already are :) However, I know what you mean.

      Although I think that ‘awareness’ rather than ‘guilt’ maybe a little better. Awareness inspires action. Guilt can inspire self-flagellation :) . That guilt stuff is nasty.

      Thanks again for your comment.

        

  3. Wendy Irene says:

    It is really smart to consciously think about how what you do today (or don’t do!) shapes your experience tomorrow. Taking action always makes me feel so much better than procrastination anyway. I need to remember that!

      

    • Keith says:

      Hey Wendy,

      Good to see you again :)

      I think it is smart to ‘think’ about this. However it is smarter to ‘act upon it’. That is my challenge. To act consistently. A new habit, so to speak :)

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

        

  4. Izzy says:

    Very important content here Keith. For me, the most powerful step is becoming conscious of when I do it. Sometimes, I think I am past beating myself up but then a situation will arise and I start taking small jabs at myself. These can wear down on a soul.

    Lately, I have realized that when I beat myself up over something it is actually a cop out. This is because I feel bad about a mistake or error and try to give myself punishment. The problem with this, is that rather than owning up to it and being solution focused I just beat myself down and act like it is all said and done.

    But the more conscious I am of it the more I am able to cut this out. An excellent reminder and quite timely as I just did a little bit of a beat down on myself a few days ago… But no more :)

      

    • Keith says:

      Hi Izzy,

      Yes, these can indeed “wear down on a soul”. Perfectly said.

      You know what, beating yourself up is a bit of a cop out. I hadn’t looked at it that way! That will change my perspective a little bit each time I pull out ‘The Stick’ :)

      Thanks for sharing, Izzy.

        

  5. Kryten says:

    Interesting approach.

    The only thing Id add is that if you are putting stuff off, ask yourself “why” and give an honest answer. Im tired doesnt cut it unless your eyelids are propped open with matchsticks. Otherwise its classic avoidance strategy, which is something you need to work on.

    That said, if youve got so much to do that its overwhelming – make a list, and determine to cross a minimum of 2 things off it that day – doesnt matter what they are – then celebrate having done it. Dont add new stuff to the existing list unless its urgent. That way you keep track of what youve done, have a visible record of accomplishment, and a sense of achievement.

    Then treat yourself to that extra episode :-)

      

    • Keith says:

      Hi Kryten,

      Welcome back.

      I agree ‘I’m tired’ doesn’t cut it, but I have used it over and over. The answer is of course in the “Why”.

      Good advice there about making a list and celebrating accomplishments. I know myself and other people in my life that don’t celebrate enough.

      I am not sure you will say treat ‘yourself to that extra episode’ when you read my post on TV that is coming :)

        

  6. Keith,

    This is such a great example of how often it’s the “small” things that we avoid that pile up on us and really deplete our energy and spirit! It really inspires me to get with it especially with the small actions that are easy to procrastinate.

      

    • Keith says:

      Hi Sandra,

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I have found that when we let the small things slip, it inevitably leads to much bigger things slipping. I like what you said about depleting our spirit, because it really does, doesn’t it? Glad it inspired you. Let me know how you get on.

      Thanks, Sandra
      Keith

        

  7. This reminded me of something I heard once: Imagine you are are given just one car to last your entire lifetime, and you beat it up and don’t take care of it…but you can’t go out and get another! So whatever you do to that car, you’re stuck with forever. For some reason it’s always stuck with me as a great metaphor for our lives-bodies-souls. We tend to live as if we won’t be the ones dealing with the consequences. But there are no do-overs.

      

    • Keith says:

      Hey,

      Thanks for stopping by. That is a really great metaphor and hits the nail on the head! And you are absolutely right – there are no ‘do-overs’.

      I have to say, I really do like your brutally honest posts on your blog (especially the alien-nation piece).

      Hope to see you again.

      Take care

        

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