How To Meet Your Future Self On New Year’s Eve: Part 1 Of 2

How To Meet Your Future Self On New Year’s Eve: Part 1 Of 2

How To Meet Your Future Self On New Year’s Eve: Part 1 Of 2

Time to connect with your Future Self! This article explores how the “science of Future Self” can help with implementing Metabolic Therapies.

Hannah Warren

Medically reviewed by Bret Scher, MD

The Power of Metabolic Therapies: A Shortcut to a Better Future Self

Most people don’t know what it feels like to have their brain hijacked by metabolic dysfunction, to be suddenly pushed from the driver’s seat of their perceptions and thoughts, severed from their sense of self. Before that happened to me a decade ago, I was a happy, professional young woman who lived a fairly healthy lifestyle. 

Then when my first manic episode came out of nowhere, I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder, and I turned into someone else. I went through psychosis and suicidal depression. The medications I took made me feel sedated, numb and uninspired. I gained weight, a side effect of the medication, which made me feel even worse. I quickly became obese and turned to self-medicating to drown my hopelessness and despair. I became a high-functioning alcoholic who spent the majority of my free time on my porch alone, drinking and chain-smoking. I hit rock bottom, and though it felt like an impossible task, I knew I had to find my way to a better life.

As a first step, I started a journal and visualization practice near the end of 2018. Visualization is a simple technique of imagining what you want your future to look like. Though on the surface it seems logical that we are all shaped by our past experiences, organizational psychologist Benjamin Hardy, Ph.D., author of Be Your Future Self Now, suggests it is more accurate and constructive to view our actions not as driven by the past, but as pulled forward by our futures. 

Be Your Future Self Now, the first book to explore the topic of the “science of future self,” explains that human brains are hardwired to be prediction machines. Our minds tend to wander to the future, whether ten minutes, two hours, or five years ahead. The science of Future Self indicates it is possible to leverage this natural tendency through a visualization practice that will inspire actions that bring us closer to the future we want. When we embrace the future as the primary driving force of our lives, it also allows us to see that our past is pliable and can be reframed in constructive ways. 

Just as Hardy suggests, when I visualized, I would picture the minute details of the future I wanted, sometimes while sitting in meditation, often just while drifting off to sleep at night. I imagined myself physically healthy, full of energy, with a reclaimed love for life and passion for creative pursuits. I also wrote down my vision, goals, and action plan. No matter how many times I failed, I would shamelessly go back to my journal, write about what went wrong, and delineate strategies to move forward.

Hardy argues that when you connect with your ideal future self through visualization, you are not only fueling your present with inspiring energy in a way that supports positive daily choices, but you are also creating a new lens that helps you reinvent your past, seeing even your most difficult experiences as an asset. My illness was deeply painful and traumatizing in many ways, but it taught me that being in control of my mindset is my most invaluable possession.

Changing ingrained behaviors is not easy, and I experienced many ups and downs during my journey to health. When I started visualizing a better life, and making incremental changes, I had no idea they were an essential part of metabolic treatments, something I had never heard of until I discovered the ketogenic diet and the work of Dr. Christopher Palmer, Harvard psychiatrist and author of Brain Energy.  I didn’t know the positive habits I had formed paired with ketogenic therapy, could put my illness into remission. I simply wanted to make managing my lifelong chronic mental illness bearable.

Your Future Self and Your New Year’s Resolutions

While I started making my initial positive changes near the end of 2018, the eradication of my worst habits happened as a result of my New Year’s  resolutions. Though statistics suggest New Year’s resolutions often fail, since New Year’s Eve 2019, I haven’t smoked a single cigarette; since New Year’s Eve 2020, not a single drink. And, after starting keto the summer before, on New Year’s Eve 2021, I made it a resolution to adhere strictly to my diet to ensure the best possible physical and mental health outcomes.

For the last few years, I have relished celebrating New Year’s as a mile-marker, appreciating the passage of time and the ritual of making resolutions, focusing on how my thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors shape my life. When I first began making better lifestyle choices, knowing there was growing scientific evidence supporting the possibility of complete recovery would have made it easier to envision my best possible Future Self, and made it feel more attainable. Today, looking toward the evolving evidence-based science can offer powerful inspiration to anyone starting metabolic therapies that I didn’t have when I began my healing journey. 

Dear Future Self,

Hardy draws on the work of UCLA psychologist Dr. Dal Hershfield, who has studied the concept of Future Self for more than fifteen years. Hershfield sees being empathetic toward and connected with your Future Self as the first step to better decision making. As a technique to form this relationship, Hardy suggests writing a letter to your current self from the vantage point of your Future Self, describing what your life is like in the future in detail, because “A vivid future is a compelling future.”

For the past few years, one of my playful New Year’s traditions has been writing a letter from the perspective of my Future Self that I tuck away and do not read again until the following New Year’s Eve. I always completely forget what I have written by the time I read the letter, but it is fascinating and fun to see how my year unfolded compared to what my imagined Future Self communicated. This has been an incredible year that exceeded all of my expectations, but I don’t remember what my future self told me to expect. I can’t wait to find out!

Happy New Year to you, and an even happier one to your Future Self! 

Part 2 Coming in 2024…

The Power of Metabolic Therapies: A Shortcut to a Better Future Self

Most people don’t know what it feels like to have their brain hijacked by metabolic dysfunction, to be suddenly pushed from the driver’s seat of their perceptions and thoughts, severed from their sense of self. Before that happened to me a decade ago, I was a happy, professional young woman who lived a fairly healthy lifestyle. 

Then when my first manic episode came out of nowhere, I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder, and I turned into someone else. I went through psychosis and suicidal depression. The medications I took made me feel sedated, numb and uninspired. I gained weight, a side effect of the medication, which made me feel even worse. I quickly became obese and turned to self-medicating to drown my hopelessness and despair. I became a high-functioning alcoholic who spent the majority of my free time on my porch alone, drinking and chain-smoking. I hit rock bottom, and though it felt like an impossible task, I knew I had to find my way to a better life.

As a first step, I started a journal and visualization practice near the end of 2018. Visualization is a simple technique of imagining what you want your future to look like. Though on the surface it seems logical that we are all shaped by our past experiences, organizational psychologist Benjamin Hardy, Ph.D., author of Be Your Future Self Now, suggests it is more accurate and constructive to view our actions not as driven by the past, but as pulled forward by our futures. 

Be Your Future Self Now, the first book to explore the topic of the “science of future self,” explains that human brains are hardwired to be prediction machines. Our minds tend to wander to the future, whether ten minutes, two hours, or five years ahead. The science of Future Self indicates it is possible to leverage this natural tendency through a visualization practice that will inspire actions that bring us closer to the future we want. When we embrace the future as the primary driving force of our lives, it also allows us to see that our past is pliable and can be reframed in constructive ways. 

Just as Hardy suggests, when I visualized, I would picture the minute details of the future I wanted, sometimes while sitting in meditation, often just while drifting off to sleep at night. I imagined myself physically healthy, full of energy, with a reclaimed love for life and passion for creative pursuits. I also wrote down my vision, goals, and action plan. No matter how many times I failed, I would shamelessly go back to my journal, write about what went wrong, and delineate strategies to move forward.

Hardy argues that when you connect with your ideal future self through visualization, you are not only fueling your present with inspiring energy in a way that supports positive daily choices, but you are also creating a new lens that helps you reinvent your past, seeing even your most difficult experiences as an asset. My illness was deeply painful and traumatizing in many ways, but it taught me that being in control of my mindset is my most invaluable possession.

Changing ingrained behaviors is not easy, and I experienced many ups and downs during my journey to health. When I started visualizing a better life, and making incremental changes, I had no idea they were an essential part of metabolic treatments, something I had never heard of until I discovered the ketogenic diet and the work of Dr. Christopher Palmer, Harvard psychiatrist and author of Brain Energy.  I didn’t know the positive habits I had formed paired with ketogenic therapy, could put my illness into remission. I simply wanted to make managing my lifelong chronic mental illness bearable.

Your Future Self and Your New Year’s Resolutions

While I started making my initial positive changes near the end of 2018, the eradication of my worst habits happened as a result of my New Year’s  resolutions. Though statistics suggest New Year’s resolutions often fail, since New Year’s Eve 2019, I haven’t smoked a single cigarette; since New Year’s Eve 2020, not a single drink. And, after starting keto the summer before, on New Year’s Eve 2021, I made it a resolution to adhere strictly to my diet to ensure the best possible physical and mental health outcomes.

For the last few years, I have relished celebrating New Year’s as a mile-marker, appreciating the passage of time and the ritual of making resolutions, focusing on how my thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors shape my life. When I first began making better lifestyle choices, knowing there was growing scientific evidence supporting the possibility of complete recovery would have made it easier to envision my best possible Future Self, and made it feel more attainable. Today, looking toward the evolving evidence-based science can offer powerful inspiration to anyone starting metabolic therapies that I didn’t have when I began my healing journey. 

Dear Future Self,

Hardy draws on the work of UCLA psychologist Dr. Dal Hershfield, who has studied the concept of Future Self for more than fifteen years. Hershfield sees being empathetic toward and connected with your Future Self as the first step to better decision making. As a technique to form this relationship, Hardy suggests writing a letter to your current self from the vantage point of your Future Self, describing what your life is like in the future in detail, because “A vivid future is a compelling future.”

For the past few years, one of my playful New Year’s traditions has been writing a letter from the perspective of my Future Self that I tuck away and do not read again until the following New Year’s Eve. I always completely forget what I have written by the time I read the letter, but it is fascinating and fun to see how my year unfolded compared to what my imagined Future Self communicated. This has been an incredible year that exceeded all of my expectations, but I don’t remember what my future self told me to expect. I can’t wait to find out!

Happy New Year to you, and an even happier one to your Future Self! 

Part 2 Coming in 2024…

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