Chapter 21: Trust your future self
People worry about a wide variety of things, some silly, some serious. We worry about our job security, we worry about our health, we worry about our reputations. Most of the things we worry about are at least partially out of our control. This chapter is about the other cases: cases when the problem is completely within our control!
The most obvious case of worrying about something entirely within our control is worrying about our own feelings or desires. We worry that our feelings will change and that we won’t want the same things we do now. The weight of these worries can paralyze us, stunning us into indecision and stagnation. If this happens to you, you can trust your future self.
Pace’s Story: Trusting My Future Self
Kyeli and I were once worried that we might fall out of love with each other. We were worried that our feelings might eventually change. We worried about this for a while, but through much discussion eventually chose to trust our future selves. If our feelings change in the future, then we’ll figure out how we feel and what we want at that time, and we’ll do what we most want to do. If what we want is to stay together, then we will stay together. If what we want is to no longer stay together, then there’s still no sense worrying about it now, because we’d just be worrying about what our future selves want to do. If we each want different things, then there’s no sense worrying about that either — I very much want Kyeli to be happy, so if her feelings eventually change, my future self would want to respect that. No one but us has any say over our relationship; it’s entirely within our control. What a silly thing to worry about!
This can be a difficult concept, but it’s important and can save you quite a lot of needless worry. People spend a huge amount of time and energy worrying over decisions that, in the long run, won’t be so dramatically important a few years, weeks, or even days down the road. Once you learn to trust your future self, you may find that your energy and time are better spent doing things instead of worrying about doing them.
Kyeli’s Story: It’s My Party, and I’ll Go If I Want To!
We used to spend lots of time and energy worrying whenever there was a social event on our calendar. We worried about going or not going. We worried about whether we’d enjoy ourselves if we went. We worried about whether we’d regret it if we stayed home. We spent lots of time and effort worrying about whether going would be worth the time and effort.Now, we know to trust our future selves in all aspects. If we choose to go and wind up having a lousy time, we can leave and come home (it’s not as hard or as awkward as we feared!). If we stay home and start feeling regretful, we can go late. We now spend our time and energy on enjoying ourselves no matter what we choose, rather than spending it on worrying about what to choose, because our choices are entirely under our control!
Keep an eye out for situations where you’re worrying about something that’s actually completely under your control. There are probably more of them than you imagine! A frequent tip-off to this type of situation is worrying about what you might or might not want in the future. Save yourself from this unnecessary stress and worry. Trust your future self.