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Hidden Wisdom and Letters to the Self

We’ve got a lot of hidden wisdom locked away in our beans.

Wisdom we’ve either forgotten or can’t yet access. And I’ve found a method for teasing it out.

We’re going to get a little metaphysical today. This can twist your noodle in a bit of a knot, so don’t hurt yourself. (Feel free to smoke the funny stuff and read some Carlos Castaneda, if you’re so inclined.)

I’ve talked about writing unsent letters before, even touching on the letter to the self. Let’s take that to a whole new level.

If we picture our desired future selves in full detail, we can then ask that future self how she got there. This puts us in touch with the wisdom we already have – the wisdom that got us where we are today.

Daydreaming your way to wisdom

The other night I was relaxing, lying in bed thinking, watching movies in my head as I often do. (Many an exasperated teacher has berated me for “daydreaming” – like that’s a bad thing!) And the image of my future came to me in gorgeous, vivid color.

I saw with absolute clarity exactly what I want. Not only physically, but emotionally. Spiritually. Creatively. Financially. This whole world appeared in my head, fully formed, and it was mine.

When I say specific, I don’t mean “I am living in a two bedroom house in Seattle with dogs.”

I mean, my house on Delridge has a view of the sun setting behind the Olympic Mountains, and the floors are glossy Douglas Fir hardwood, and two retired greyhounds are sleeping in front of the slate fireplace while I drink pomegranate tea out of an earthenware mug and pick lavender from the garden.

I saw what I was wearing, I saw the interior color of my vintage car parked in garage. I could picture my email inbox – who was writing me and with what news. I could picture my bank account, my social calendar, the contents of my kitchen cabinets.

So I decided to ask my future self how she got there. How she achieved those results. What steps she took. What choices she made.

Here’s a slice of the journal entry:

I stumbled upon this epiphany last night and suddenly I’m able to see that all my scrappings – all my cave hiding and furniture moving – is just fear.

It’s just a refusal to acknowledge that it’s time to level up. It’s all struggling against the beautiful forward movement that wants to grow organically.

And I see this older, wiser, more confident version of myself smiling compassionately, knowing about the struggle, and extending a hand in invitation to stop. “You’re making this harder than it has to be,” she tells me.

Because I think I’ve already got some of the same wisdom that my future self has. I just don’t have access to it – yet. So maybe writing myself a letter would help me tap into it.

Huge lightbulb going off. Amazing idea. (Every once in awhile I impress myself.)

Letter to the Self

I decided to try the exercise and ask my future self for some guidance. I began the letter:

“Dear Future Kristin,

This is a little awkward since we’ve never met. But I just feel like I know you.

(Of course, I can’t take anything 100% seriously! 🙂 Anway…)

Just recently I’ve been able to see you clearly for the first time. And the chasm between where I am and where you are is huge. The details baffle me.

But I can see how I felt a year ago, what I knew then (and didn’t know, mostly) and the amount of knowledge and skill I’ve developed over the past 12 months.

I know if I looked too far ahead I would have been parlayed. I had to focus on one thing at a time, on what needed to be done NEXT.

So I know better than to get overwhelmed by the unknowns. I trust that more will be revealed.

In the meantime, I’ve got a few questions for you.

What came out of this exercise is pretty amazing. I wrote the questions. And then I used my imagination to conjure up my future self. And I answered those questions from her point of view.

I discovered that I instinctively know which details will sort themselves out, and which will require attention.

W.W.F.K.D.?

I feel like I’ve found a new mentor. My future self has so much wisdom to share.

Whenever I get stuck and I’m unsure what to do next, I can just picture myself standing on those fir floors stirring my mug of tea, creativity fulfilled and spiritually content. And I ask myself, “What would Future Kristin do?”

Because getting there is no different than getting where I am now, if you ask my past self.

What does your future self know? What is he or shy dying to teach you? What do you most need guidance on?

Picture the person you want to be and the life you want to have. Picture it in startling detail. And then ask the person you’ve become to reveal the way. Because she’s already done it.

Get out your journal and ask her how.

12 comments

  1. This is a great ( and funny) post! I have done the letter to the future ( and past) self before, but not with the same thoughts behind it , some more visualizing is in order!

    • Heather – visualizing is very powerful, I’m discovering. Having concrete images in our heads is immensely motivating. AND I absolutely love your site! So awesome!

  2. oh i love this so much!
    i get the best advice from my future self 🙂

  3. I want to see my future self too, but I have not had such a vision… yet.

  4. Kristin,
    I have heard of visualizing and writing a letter to your older self, but you added such personal insight to the process that you brought it to life! I love the excerpts you share from your journaling process that gives a clearer picture of how you can go about communicating with your future self and how to best benefit from it.

    I have chosen this post, Hidden Wisdom and Letters to the Self, as the #JournalChat Pick of the Day for Tuesday, 11/16/10, for all things Journaling on Twitter. It will be posted on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my blog, Refresh with Dawn Herring.

    Thanks for giving such great insight into the process of accessing the wisdom of our future selves!

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    JournalWriter Freelance
    @JournalChat on Twitter

  5. Ive always been utterly clueless about my future. I just see nothing, blank.
    Is your future self a projection of your dreams or do you actually feel that she IS you? that probably makes no sense!!

  6. Writing my future self sounds like a very interesting technique. I will definitely have to try that and see what kind of results I get! Thank you for a great article.

  7. I am intrigued by this and I absolutely love how generous you are with your detail. Thank you! I believe there is something to this.