For an introduction to stress management, see Day 9. On Day 10, I explored the idea of self-talk. On Day 11, we learned about the technique of reframing. On Day 12, we learned why you must immediately accept yourself as you are. Yesterday, we reviewed why it is important to appreciate the simple pleasures.
I could hardly wait for today’s exercise, because it is one of my favorite personal development exercises I have ever seen.
When I first did this exercise, I had one of those “A-ha!” moments, and I’ve made sure to revisit it occasionally since then. It’s simply fantastic.
Read over the following section once so you know what the exercise is, then read it again and actually do it.
Take a few deep breaths and close your eyes.
Imagine yourself as a child, sometime before high school. Remember how badly you wanted to do grown up things.
Remember how badly you wanted to drive a car. Remember how badly you wanted to sit at the adults’ table at holidays. Remember how badly you wanted to be tall. Remember how badly you wanted to go to the places grown ups went to.
Remember the feeling of how inadequate you were, and how you couldn’t wait to just grow up so all of this could happen.
Now bring a picture of your current, adult self into the scene. The current you gives a big hug to your child self, and says, “See? I told you everything was going to be alright.”
Now, a third version of yourself appears in the scene.
This is a future version of yourself that embodies all of your current goals and aspirations.
Notice every detail about them. Notice how they carry their self, their body language, the smile on their face.
How do they look? How do they sound? What does it feel like to be this person? Watch as this ideal future self gives the current you a big hug and says “It’s all going to be alright.”
Let the pictures of these three selves merge into one another, leaving an image of that ideal self remaining.
Realize that this ideal self is you, right now.
Man, I love this exercise (in case you haven’t already figured that out).
I remember a very distinct point in my childhood, during 3rd grade, when I was sitting in class.
Two high school students walked into my classroom because they were visiting the teacher.
I looked at them, and I remember the exact thought that I had: “Wow, these high school students are so cool! I’ll never get to be like them; that’s like six years away!”
I know exactly what you are thinking right now. Yes, I do think in semi-colons.
But seriously, during that moment of my childhood, all of my feelings of inadequacy completely rose to the surface.
Every single one of us has these feelings, and probably on a daily or near daily basis. When you complete this exercise, it should help alleviate these feelings, and show you how absurd they really are.
Your current self has overcome so many of the limitations of your child self, and there is absolutely no reason why you can’t also grow into that ideal person you envision during this exercise.
Feel free to go back and repeat this exercise as often as you wish. The more practice you have doing it, the stronger the imagery becomes, and the more effective it can be.
Move on to Day 15: Reflect on the Past Two Weeks.