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Forget about your present self

it's helping no one

By Noah DouglasPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
Forget about your present self
Photo by Михаил Секацкий on Unsplash

In each of us we have the three versions of ourselves:

  1. The past self: the one that remembers things we do
  2. The present self: the one that experiences things happening now
  3. The future self: the one that anticipates things to come

The version of ourselves that remembers, the past self, lives far longer than the other two. It is a constant throughout our lives.

The present self is always fleeting, it is here for a second and then gone.

The future self is relatively small in the fact of we have a pretty small window of knowledge of the future.

Taking this into account we need to recognise that the past self has infinitely more weight than the others. It literally lives from the time we are born to the time we die. In addition, it compounds over time. More regrets, more memories, more experiences… these all live in this part of ourselves.

We are only hurting ourselves if we don't prioritise this self, as we will be haunted by our decisions otherwise.

Acknowledging this means that the new mindset we have to adapt is to live for this remembering self instead of seeking instant gratification and pleasing ourselves in the present.

"We pamper the present like a spoiled child, obeying its superficial demands but ignoring its real needs" - Robert Grudin

A simple thing to think of is that you are gifting yourself through the activities you are doing in the present self for the past self.

This doesn't mean you can't enjoy the present, however, you want to make sure you can look back at those memories stored away and be proud.

The reason people find this so hard is that it is so counter-intuitive and counter-cultural. You want to just do whatever you feel like doing and sometimes this makes our past self happy but for the most part, it doesn't.

By thinking about the past self we are actually thinking to the future but instead of what if's we are controlling the narrative. This is often achieved by delayed gratification- things that make you look back and smile often require more work and energy.

Motivate yourself through focussing on how prioritising the past self can actually help all versions of yourself. Know that this 'harder' action will please you fully compared to actions that only partially make you happy.

Past decisions you have done give you an undercurrent of confidence and happiness about you in the present as well as direction for your future self.

Contrary to this is where your future self anticipates something amazing, yet the present version of yourself chickens out and stays idle because it feels uncomfortable. The result then is your past self feels miserable. 

We need to flip it around and put the past self first. Life can't be forgotten or feel like we've done nothing.

Practically you can counteract the feeling of doing nothing by adding variety into your life. Someone serving the present self would like to stay at home, a glass of wine, not achieving much. Granted this would be comfortable, yet the past self wouldn't be so grateful.

We often wonder where the time goes, but we don't fill it with memories that make us look back proud.

Take the stay-at-home example; it's something you can easily do and is very forgettable. Instead, you could go to an event or something with people you don't know. In the present, you may feel nervous but your past self will look back on the situation, whatever the outcome, and be proud because of that variety you put in.

Prioritise the past self, do actions that will make you proud when you look back on them, push your boundaries and create memories. You won't regret it!

self help

About the Creator

Noah Douglas

Perpetually curious.

Journeyman of faith†

Runner, writer, marketer.

Some of my other work ↓

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    Noah DouglasWritten by Noah Douglas

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