A popular tool in psychotherapy is something called inner child work, or the process of imagining and reconnecting with your younger self. In this process, you can offer yourself guidance, even going back to certain traumatizing events and readdressing them with the wisdom you have now.
But more often, the process of reconnecting with your inner child is to let them communicate with you. It is how you can rediscover your inherent desires, passions, fears, and feelings.
What most people don’t tell you, though, is that just as the inner child is an aspect of ourselves that doesn’t really go away, so can we access our future selves, the people we have the potential to become.
Personally speaking, nothing has radically changed my life as much as future-self work. I have made every huge, important, life-changing decision after consulting my future self, and each time, it has been spot on. I have been able to move forward with complete peace and knowing because I am crystal clear on where I am headed and what I want to be.
The process is akin to reverse engineering, which is when you identify the end goals for your life and then work backward to see what you need to do each day, week, month, and year to get there.
Step 1: Face the fear first
Sit down in a quiet place with a journal. Make sure you’re doing it at a time when you feel relaxed and open to receive guidance. If you go into this with fear, you are going to get fear.
Next, close your eyes and begin a meditation session. Take a few moments to breathe deeply and center yourself. Imagine sitting down at a comfortable table in a well-lit room, somewhere you are happy and feel at peace.
Then, invite your future self to sit with you and talk. You can request that they are a certain age, but usually, the age will just come to you when you see them.
Specifically, ask for the highest possible version of yourself to sit down. If you see anything scary at first, know that it is your fear of what could happen manifesting within your mind, not the truth of what will happen.
Once you get past that, you can start receiving advice.
Step 2: Notice what they look and feel like
Aside from what you imagine this version of yourself telling you, pay attention to what they look like, how they behave, what their facial expressions communicate.
The point of doing future-self work is so that you can merge with this aspect of yourself. You want to clearly envision the most ideal version of yourself so that you know how your own life needs to grow, shift, and change.
See what they wear, how they feel, what they do each day. These will be the keys to your own becoming.
Step 3: Ask for general guidance
If you go into this process with a laundry list of scary, huge questions for your future self to answer, you’re probably going to end up bound up by panic rather than being open to receive powerful guidance.
Instead, keep yourself open to whatever this person wants to share with you. The messages should be positive, uplifting, affirming, and helpful. Even if they communicate something to you such as, you need to let go of this relationship, it should be done in a way that is so calming and reaffirming that you are confident and at peace with it.
Step 4: Imagine them handing you the “keys” to your new life
Another powerful exercise using your future self is to imagine yourself now sitting down with yourself 3, 5, or even 7 years ago. It has to be close enough that you can relate to this person, but far enough that you’ve changed.
Imagine sitting down in a space you used to frequent or inhabit. What you’re going to do now is literally hand them the pieces of your current life, and all of the information they will need to go from who they are then to who you are now.
You can literally hand them your car keys, your email account for your job, your bank account, an outfit, or instructions on what to do in terms of career, relationship, or just day-to-day habits.
Or, you can imagine your future self giving you aspects of your life now. Imagine them handing you the keys to the home you live in, or your wedding band, or anything else that is a part of your highest possible future life.
Remember, this process should make you feel calm, affirmed, and more self-assured, not the opposite. Fear is a hallucination, a trick of the mind and gut. Your future self can step in and remind you of all that is possible, and empower you to live with certainty, clarity, and grace.