By Emily Keller, Ph.D., LPC, RPT
Need help meeting goals? You are not alone! Most of us are aware of the space between where we are now and where we want to be. Some of us are painfully aware. We long to reach our goals, yet we repeat the same poor choices. Clients ask, in one way or another, “How can I step across this space?” They say, “Tell me what to do!”
The truth is, most of us know what we want and need to do. Yet, It takes more than doing.
Making change is as much a process of being as it is doing. In fact, the power of change lies in both the emotional brain and in a relational experience. Traditionally, I help clients access their Natural Child or Inner Child to help them overcome the challenges in becoming who they want to be. Lately, though, I have been helping clients harness the power of another relationship — the relationship with their Future Self. The Future Self is the self who will benefit (or not) from the accumulation of decisions we make in each moment. By developing a relationship with our Future Self, we will discover we have a powerful ally in making change and progressing toward our goals.
Key concepts in this process are:
- The Future Self
- There are four “Nows”
- The only way to change tomorrow is to change today
- Relationship is a vehicle for change
- You can draw on your future success, meaning, and wisdom today
- Gratitude and understanding are far better encouragers than criticism
Many disciplines are concerned with the Future Self. For instance, economists encourage people to choose now to save money so they can benefit from that later. Physicians talk to patients about lifestyle changes that are likely to extend their lives. Life coaches build careers around helping people do everything from write the “someday” novel to advance in their careers.
Someday refers to some day in the future when we believe we will have time to do what we are wanting to do. Unfortunately, someday is rarely regarded as today. Rather, it becomes tomorrow, especially if tomorrow is the mythical Monday or fantastical first day of a month. If you are tired of saying, “I’ll start tomorrow,” or “Monday will be a fresh start,” that is because we are likely to do tomorrow that which we do today. I repeat, we are likely to do tomorrow that which we do today. Every time we shift our desired change away from today, we are not only pushing it further away, we are reinforcing that behavior, making it more likely to push it further away in the future.
Thus, someday never comes.
“Originally, the burden of proof was on physicists to prove that time travel was possible. Now the burden of proof is on physicists to prove there must be a law forbidding time travel.” – Michio Kaku
One of the key concepts in working with the Future Self is the concept of Four Nows. I developed this thinking along with a client of mine as we sorted through experiences in the present, experiences of the past, and spiritual experiences. I then added a future experience.
Now 0 “Now Zero” or “N0”
Now Zero is outside of time. Herein lies our spiritual self. You may or may not have a belief in a spirit or soul that is removed from time as we know it and will continue after death. That’s okay. If you do, then this self is available to you as an inward, centering guide.
Now1 “Now One” or “N1”
Now One is the now of our childhood. Technically, it can be any now of the past which may be triggered in the moment. Because childhood trauma is so influential in later life, Now One usually refers to the now of the time of childhood. Now One is the now in which our Inner Child developed. When the Child of our Now One is present in the moment, that child usually feels as though the current reality is indeed Now One, and acts accordingly.
Now2 “Now Two” or “N2”
Now Two is the “here and now.” This is the now of this moment. Your Now Two self is the one reading right here, right now. When we speak of change, this is the time in which you have the power to choose to do differently. Interestingly, some scientists suggest that the here and now doesn’t really exist. Rather, it is a point of intersection between the past and the future. Click on this link to hear a number of related TED talks about time.
Now3 “Now Three” or “N3”
Now Three represents a time in the future. Now Three is the time in which your Future Self resides. The Future Self benefits–or not–
from what you are doing today.
Redecision Therapy contracting involves imagining the Future Self at the end of therapy to frame the work we will do. After all, how can we get to where we want to go if we don’t know where that is. Now, I am inviting clients to develop a relationship with their Future Self to guide and offer gratitude for the choices they make in each moment.
Your Future Self is a version of you who has benefited from all the changes you make in this moment forward. This. Moment. Forward. So, yes, this moment counts.
All too often, we consider the value of the moment compared to the past. We don’t see how the intended decision of the moment carries any weight compared to the cumulative effects of past choices. We discount the power of the here. Imagining a Future Self and investing in Now Three takes away the discount of the moment. We know that this decision in Now Two will have an impact on our Future Self. We can step “into” the power of N2 by considering its impact on Future Self.
This version of you also can express his or her gratitude for the choice you are making now. Gratitude has been shown to promote physical, emotional, and social health and well-being. It serves as a boost to any change we are seeking to make.
If you would like to try this on your own, start by imagining your Future Self. Your Future Self has benefited from all the changes you make. Imagine how your Future Self looks and feels; what he or she is doing and thinking. Now, from the first-person, present-tense perspective, write a letter to your current self about the gratitude you feel for those changes. Then, on a daily basis, imagine (feel/intuit) the wisdom and guidance your Future Self has to offer to you. And as you come to decision points imagine your Future Self, then choose. When you make choices that are in line with where you want to be, feel the gratitude from your Future Self. Really let that sink in.
Finally, as you explore and develop this relationship, know that Future Self understands the path isn’t perfect. He or she doesn’t scold or berate you for choices that aren’t in line with your goals. Rather, Future Self is nurturing and understanding. After all, your Future Self has been in your shoes.
Personal Growth Marathon
Learn to get out of your own way so you can create the life you want. Join us for a Personal Growth Marathon or Understanding Yourself and Others workshop.