I have never journaled regularly, at least not in the sense that many people do. When I competed professionally I kept a training journal, and I religiously tracked my sets, reps, intensities, and any important cues that I needed to remember, or that were particularly helpful. But I have never been one to reflect on “Me” regularly in writing form.
Over the years I have attempted to journal. I had an understanding that it was important. Even if I wasn’t quite so sure, “why?” The journal I am currently using (and have almost filled), was in fact purchased in 2013. I purchased this journal and a beautiful pen to compliment it six years ago, with the intention of starting a gratitude journal. The idea was that I would write half a page about things I was currently grateful for, and things in the future I’d like to be have and be thankful for, or things I’d like to call into my life.
I understand the power of gratitude, and having been on the path of self development for as long as I can remember, I understood the concept of being thankful for the life you have yet to receive. And yet….I STILL didn’t commit to a daily practice with it.
You are ready, when you are ready.
Okay, so why was I ready now? I started future self journaling approximately 90 days ago, and I was in a place of extreme hurt and confusion. It was, what I have come to realize as, an emotional rock bottom. The kind of rock bottom that causes you to question everything, an ego death of sorts.
It’s odd to be in an emotional rock bottom, and be able to still see the amazingness you have in your life. Part of your being is aching with a deep sense of profound loss and uncertainty, and yet here are my beautiful children, smiling and loving me, and here is my loving and supportive husband, holding and cherishing me.
It’s a bit of a mind fuck. Something the mind is well versed in doing. Often the inmates or our mind are running the prison. The inmates being our thoughts…and it is with conscious awareness that we are able to regain control as the Warden.
Reflecting back on where I was 90 days ago, I think I can accurately say that an older version of me may have felt undeserving of the amazingness (family) in the face of my ego death. The old me of a few years ago, would have entered into a pit of self loathing, self blaming, and self shaming…believing that I was not worthy of the beauty I had. I’m a recovering addict when it comes to these patterns, and I won’t lie about this time: I kicked the shit out of that old storyline. And I 100% believe that my Future Self Journaling was a part of that success.
Many months ago, I started following an account on instagram called The Holistic Psychologist. At the time she had a small following, which I’ve watched balloon to over 700k followers. It has been remarkable, and beautiful, and seriously inspiring to observe…and not because of her following and numbers. It’s amazing to me because what it means to me, is that there are so many people out there, hungry for her message. There are so many people out there waking up, taking the red pill, unplugging… There are so many people that are starting to put the inmates back where they belong and step into the role of the Warden of their minds…
This makes me very hopeful for the future. Not just my own. All of ours.
The Holistic Psychologist (aka Dr. Nicole LaPera) has something she calls Future Self Journaling. It reminds me, and has pieces of other practices, that I have attempted over the years, and never really committed to. When I was in my dark place, I knew I needed to do something in order to piece my self back together…I needed to take care of me. Consciously. And effectively.
I read this beautifully written article by Dr. Cedrus Monte (https://bit.ly/31ByltC) and she spoke of the toxic environments at the ocean floor where you would think life would be impossible, these places where the plates of our earth meet, and vents of gas and heat expel toxic chemicals into the dark, deep, immensely pressurized ocean floor. No life should be present, and yet….. life is reborn. New species, new life, new discoveries…
A seemingly death zone, flourishes with new life…
This is a beautiful metaphor for the tough times in life. The times when we hit those rock bottoms. What is the lesson here? What new life can come out of this? And I am certain this is one of the most beautiful experiences of our human lives. These moments are the opportunities that we can show up in a greater capacity than we have in the past. They are the moments where pressure turns coal into diamonds, the moments where we see our selves fully, and hold our own hands to bring about the new life that we must choose and move forward in, in order to become our greatest gift to this world…our highest selves influences the highest good.
As Leonard Cohen said, “there is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s where the light gets in.”
I have often thought this way, and I have not so often moved this way with any grace or ease. And this time, I think I just may have.
I am the most compassionate, most understanding, and most loving version of my self, right now. And I owe that to many things across my life, but my ability to move this way has been massively impacted in the last 90 days due to my commitment to future self journaling.
Rephrase: my ability to move this way has been massively impacted in the last 90 days due to my commitment to show up for my self. It’s the same thing my loves.
So, how does following a few prompts each day create massive change? I often wondered this, I understood, I believed that journaling mattered, and I didn’t know why. Why? Why does writing down some shit in a book matter? I get it, all the smart people say it, so I believe it, but whyyyyyyy???
Well, I think there are a number of reasons why, and here is what I found (if you’re not familiar with Future Self Journaling then follow this link and signup for the email list where you will receive the PDF for future self journaling: https://yourholisticpsychologist.com). Reviewing this document may, or may not, give context to the following information.
Here are my tips, tricks, and takeaways from my last 90 days!
- I stuck with one way of being that I wanted to change for 49 days straight when I first started. If you’re a “law of attraction” lover, it seems counterintuitive to think of the thing you want to change, but the truth of the matter is, when you “call out” your self on what you don’t want, and then you follow that with prompts relating to what you do want, it gives your brain an opportunity to create AWARENESS and see the gap. Does that make sense? If I don’t want to be angry, and I state that intention to the universe, to self, and then I follow that with journaling about what my future self does and is, then I am conditioning my self to know what it is like to be more skillful in my anger. because it will still happen, make peace with that, and I desire to to move that through with greater grace and ease.
- Once you’ve created the awareness, a gap appears. The gap is that moment where you experience the emotion or thing you want to change, and instead of running your old programming, there’s a momentary gap – like a choose your own adventure novel! You’ve been following one storyline your whole life (trigger, react, repeat), and now all of a sudden you’re in a choose your own adventure book. You can see there is a different way of being, there’s another option. The gap creates a moment for you to make a choice, to follow a new path, to create a new you, to move with that grace and ease. To create that peace. TO HEAL.
- By journalling daily, by being intentional, it’s like a momentary connection with conscious awareness. Often when I leave my journaling until the end of the day, I notice the day was possibly more chaotic or out of hand. Every thing is more chaotic and out of hand when I am not present because I am merely reacting. There’s no gap to RESPOND, rather I REACT. Creating a practice of daily presence, reminds me to be present daily.
- Gratitude is part of the daily journaling. So, I have fulfilled my journal’s initial raison d’etre, albeit six years later. Haha…hey, better late than never. A note on gratitude – be so very present with it. What is in your heart? What is something simple you could be grateful for? Or, conversely, what is the hardest thing in your life you could have gratitude for, if you choose to?
- When I would write about my future self, I would continually grow the story with more detail (when I had the time) to really live in what it would be like to be that version of my self. To really imagine the scenarios when I could show up as this more equipped person in my challenging moments. My future self is a badass. I’ve really given her a lot of cool talents. It’s likely why I love journaling so much, to remember with more clarity of who she is. To reconnect with her. And what’s really cool, is sometimes I catch my self whispering old untruths, and my future self pops up and questions the old storyline. She comforts me. She reminds me of the truth. She reminds me that in THIS MOMENT, it is always my CHOICE to listen to the old stories, or create and believe and implement new stories.
- I would also attempt to fully embody the emotions what it would feel like to be my future self. The joy and the gratitude of showing up for my self. The relief of breaking these patterns that are harmful to me, and stop ME from showing up and giving this world my gifts. I paint the picture of what that would be like. The mind does not know the difference between imagination and reality. This is the foundation behind visualization and sport. So, as the Warden of your mind, create a story, a future, for your inmates to believe in, to help them rehabilitate. To show them the path toward healing. To show them all you are truly capable of.
- When you start, you will undoubtedly miss a couple days. A brief story: when I retired from Athletics and became a mother, I found less time to workout. I would write a program (I have a background in Strength and Conditioning) and as a recovering perfectionist, I would miss a day, and subsequently render my whole program “fucked.” I found this wasn’t working for me. So, I gave my self grace. I realized I needed more flexibility, and less judgement, if I wanted to be successful in my training. I eased up on my strictness around certain things, and I found my way to my workouts much more easily. The JUDGEMENT of missing a workout, was holding me back from my goals, far more than my discipline or commitment level. So, in service to my self, I adapted a program to a mom of two, became more realistic on goals, and decided I am a good person, who is committed, and ALSO sometimes shit happens. I have completed 90 days of future self journaling, and of the last 60-75ish, I have not missed a day. But within the first 2 weeks, I’m sure I missed a day here and there. Pro tip: quit judging if you miss, keep your day count rolling, and give your self grace in the first 30 days. If you only have time for five minutes, pull out your journal, or a scrap piece of paper, and write down one thing you’re thankful for. It doesn’t always have to be big and elaborate. Showing up IS ENOUGH!
- Celebrate! As Joseph McClendon III says, “praise makes the world go round.” As the Gottman Institute has said, marriages where we positively affirm and thank our partners in a greater than 5:1 ratio, have the greatest rates of success. You are relating with you! Love your self, give your self a hug, thank your self every time you catch a gap. Every time you are consistent. Every time you show up for your self. Learn to praise your self for the little things you do each day to change that dialogue. If you’re anything like me, I am much more inclined to see how I could have done better, rather than celebrate the fuck out of my self for journaling daily. And guess what? I’m seeing big changes, and I’m so proud of ME! (I just hugged my self. Now give your self a hug. I’ll wait before I go on.)
- If you don’t know what you’re doing, that’s okay. It really is. Embrace the discomfort. There is no right way, or wrong way. Re-reading the prompts in the PDF, I see ways I have NOT completely followed the prompts…whoops! And guess what? I still have gotten massive value out of this. There is no test on this at the end of the day. But at the end of this life, if you show up consistently for you, you’ll get to close your eyes and be with someone you really trust and love. Isn’t that enough?
- Start. Just start. Right now. There is over 700k people that want to, or have started this too. And we all want each other to win. I want you to win. I want the best version of you in this world. So start. Your gifts deserve to be realized and shared.
Well, that’s what I got! I’m sure I missed several things, and I’m also sure that it doesn’t matter. Future self journaling is a tool that is a must in my toolbox. I have a few tools that are non-negotiable, and this is now one of them.
If you have found this post, I’m guessing it’s because you are pursuing better. You are pursuing a better version of your self, a better way of being. You are waking up, and you are realizing that you have more. More love. More gifts. More power. More treasure that has yet to be found. The future self journal will absolutely help you mine that treasure.
When I think about my future self (the final prompt in the PDF), I get emotional. I truly do. To hold my self so kindly. To love my self so tenderly. What a gift to give my self. And that will flow to everyone that I encounter. I pray that you feel that tenderness and kindness flowing to YOU right now.
When I think about my future self, I used to feel relief. I felt a bit like I was drowning, and my future self was in the distance throwing me the life raft. And now when I think about her, I just feel so much joy and gratitude…it overwhelms me.
As I write these words, I feel the tears run down my cheeks. It’s silly, and yet, it’s so fucking beautiful. This life we get to live, this journey that we are on… I’m just so filled with joy and gratitude.
Thank you Dr. Nicole. And thank you to anyone and everyone that took the time to read this.
Share with me the tools in your toolbox, I love hearing how others are on their own pursuit, their own path…