Recently I (finally) saw the latest X-Men movie. I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it yet, but think I can safely tell you this small part – the movie is partially set in a time when Charles Xavier is in the middle of a personal crisis. He doubts he has what it takes to do anything or make any kind of difference. Fans of the franchise know him as the amazing Professor X, a legendary hero who has done immense good in his life. What I loved about this film was the chance to see him in crisis, and the window that it gives all of us to see ourselves in a different light.
We’ve all been in places in our lives where we doubt our ability to solve a problem, get through an issue, or make any kind of difference. We don’t know if we’re up to the task, if we’re good enough, if we have what it takes.
This week, I’m inviting you to play with this idea of time travel in your own life with a couple of fun activities.
Pick a time in your life when things were really rough, or when you had a huge problem and had major doubts about your ability to solve it. As we get farther away from events, it can be easy to forget just how hard they were. Take some time to remember how you felt in this situation, what was happening, and what you were thinking about it.
From your current perspective, brainstorm all of the benefits you got from having gone through this time in your life. For example, if you were going through grief, maybe your compassion expanded exponentially. Maybe your strength and resolve expanded, or you learned to trust yourself. Maybe you met new people, or went in a different direction. Maybe you learned something critical that impacted your life path. Take some time with this to see just how much learning, growth or opportunity resulted from this bad time.
Once you have a clear picture, write a letter to your past self from your current self, encouraging him or her, explaining how you got through it and how you had everything you needed to pull through, you just didn’t know it at the time. Write to your past self all of the wonderful benefits you received from anything that happened during this time. Let him or her know how much you value having come through that difficult experience.
Save this letter somewhere. Then move on to the next step. (If you want, go back and read the letter once you’ve forgotten what you said. It might be fun to start a book of both types of letters.)
Pick a problem, difficult situation, or obstacle that you have right now that you doubt your ability to handle. Since this is current, I’m going to guess that you are already well aware of your perceived limitations and why you think you will not be able to handle it.
Then, fast forward in time to a place where you have completely solved this problem, and having the problem is a distant memory, something you look back on and smile. From this place, write your current self a letter, encouraging yourself, explaining how you got through this time, and how you had everything you needed to pull through – you just didn’t know it. List out all the benefits you got from going through this challenging time or solving this giant problem.
Mail it to yourself, and read it once it arrives. Keep it with the previous letter and reread whenever you feel like crap.
Bonus Time Twister
Continue this practice, and do the ‘Past Self’ exercise on this time in your life once you have actually solved your problem. Then compare your letter to see how similar it was to your ‘Future Self’ letter.
Do you have any other ideas on how to let your future self help you today? I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below and share them!