The Three Selves
This might sound a little silly, but the best advice I’ve received lately came from a comment thread on Reddit that a friend pointed out to me. The thread is here, and there’s some good stuff in there, but the best thing that has helped me is this idea of the Three Selves.
We each have Three Selves: your Past Self, your Present Self, and your Future Self. And the sooner you start thinking about yourself in this way, the better. If you continually think of the Three Selves when you are making decisions in your daily grind, then you set yourself up for success down the road while also bouncing back from failure quicker.
The easiest example is cleaning the kitchen after dinner. If Present Kelly follows through to make sure all of the dishes are cleaned and put away before bedtime, then Future Kelly will be super grateful the next morning when she goes to make her coffee in a clean kitchen.
When my Present Self remembers to set up my Future Self for good things, then my Future Self (now in the Present) can thank my Past Self for being so thoughtful.
When I remember to think of my Three Selves throughout my day, I tend to make better decisions, and I stay more focused. I put a little accountability on Present Kelly — more like I would a friend — and I tend to be much nicer to Future Kelly.
You know what, I’m almost always nicer to Future Kelly than I am to Past Kelly, and I’m learning from that, too.
I’m learning to say thank you to Past Kelly and give her the benefit of the doubt. I remind myself as Present Kelly that Past Kelly did the best she could with the information in front of her. Setting up Future Kelly is all well and good, but thanking Past Kelly isn’t as easy.
Thank you, Past Kelly, for dating that musician from Oklahoma who has an adorable love of the goofball — he makes a great dad to your kiddos. Thank you, Past Kelly, for sticking with the English major even though you weren’t sure what you would do with it. Thank you, Past Kelly, for learning how to do a budget.
Forgiving Past Kelly? That one’s the hardest, but I find it easier when I remember to do it often. I forgive you, Past Kelly, for waiting so long to get your words out of your head and into the world. I forgive you, Past Kelly, for the anger you unleashed when you felt especially defensive. I forgive you, Past Kelly, for saying what you said in a heated discussion.
Don’t get me wrong. I can beat myself up pretty good (See this post here). But reading about the Three Selves has helped me practice how I talk to myself and opens up my eyes to daily grace, kindness, and forgiveness to others, too.