Following our inner guidance may feel risky and frightening at first, because we are no longer playing it safe, doing what we 'should' do, pleasing others, following rules, or deferring to outside authority.
I received a visit from my future self this week. As usual, she yoked me into alignment with who I am, how I want to live, and what really matters.
You know, just those small things... :)
It all started because I downloaded the FaceApp.
I often think about how I will feel and what will be important when I am wearing mumus, sitting in my rocking chair drinking kombucha and eating chocolate when I am 103, but I'd never before put a face to that vision.
The (albeit, imperfect) software on the app didn't show me at 103 (unless, of course, I age REALLY well - scroll down to the bottom of this email if you're curious to see...), but upon first glance I felt a sense of awe and reverence while looking into the eyes of one computer's version of a future me.
My grandmothers both died when I was very young, and, in some ways, my future self feels like the Grandmother I've always wanted but never had.
I decided to do an exercise I often give my clients and write a letter from her to me.
She was tender and radiant and hilarious and called me out on several of my worst habits. It was exactly the guidance I needed. Here are some highlights and excerpts of what she wrote:
BE A FULL PARTICIPANT
...Worrying too much is what you will absolutely regret when you get older. It makes you exist slightly outside of the happenings of your life instead of right at the very center. Worry is like a virus to your soul and to your creativity; it's impossible to be both worrying and feeling very very alive at the same time. Your purpose is to do the latter and be a full participant in your own life.
...I don't care one SMALL POTATO about being the smartest, most successful, most attractive person. Now that isn't to say I'm not all of those things (I DO look pretty darn fabulous, don't I?) But what I care about is maximum loving, maximum creating, maximum generosity, and maximum doing exactly what I want to do. Life gets so much better once you untangle yourself from the terribly exhausting gymnastics of trying to be who you think other people want.
LET YOURSELF FLY
...You are the only one keeping your plane on the runway. Wouldn't you say now is a good time to let yourself FLY? You were born to take flight, not sit on the runway.
DISCOMFORT = LAUNCHPAD FOR DESIRE
...You can't fly until you actually prepare for takeoff, and takeoff is uncomfortable and bumpy and jostles your tummy. You are looking for a version of takeoff that is smooth and comfortable, but that kind of takeoff does not lead you to what you want. When you feel this 'good' kind of discomfort during takeoff, it is confirmation that you are on the right flight. And drink lots of ginger tea for the tummy...
LEARN HOW TO RECEIVE
...When you are fortunate enough to receive help, it is your responsibility to honor that gift, in whatever form it comes, and to be very grateful. Get over your nonsense stories about how you couldn't possibly, or you don't deserve it, or you feel guilty, blah, blah, blah and learn this sacred and important skill.
Period. Mic drop.
Mic drop! She is loving and fierce!
The advice about receiving reminds me of a theory I've had for awhile that the velocity of our success is directly proportional to how much we are willing to request and accept support.
So try this: imagine yourself at some point in the future and write a letter from that future version of you. You can ask your future self specific questions you want answers to, or simply listen for what she / he / they might want to offer.
If you're in need of some encouragement right now, you might simply ask:
What am I not trusting?
What do you see that I don't?
After you've received and processed the guidance, design a few small experiments to apply the most resonant wisdom to your life this week.
Here are mine:
1. Every time I catch myself worrying extensively about something, I will either put a possibility in the possibility jar, or do a spontaneous dance.
2. Before I tend to the day's tasks and correspondence, I will complete one inspired action in service of my most important dreams.
This exercise always unearths powerful insights when I do it with clients and students, and I heartily encourage you to try it.
We can't underestimate the power of listening to this internal guidance and applying it through action. And we can't know what is possible for you once you begin to follow it, though I have a hunch that it's even better than what you can imagine...
May you find in your future self the support and loving wisdom you need to keep doing the big work you are here to do in this world.
A little book of inspiration, frameworks, and guidance for your next creative project.