Dear future me

Dear future Maejoy,

If you are reading this, it’s December 12th, 2029 and you are 34 years old. Ah, the world must still be intact – that’s hopeful in this current era of climate anxiety. How are you feeling today? Do you still put yourself first above all others? Let me remind you how I, your past self, was feeling on this day. I am feeling completely relieved after submitting my Honours thesis. I am proud of my achievements this year and for pushing through despite all the unexpected adversity and challenges! I hope you remember what this felt like.

You’re receiving this letter from your 24-year-old self who has just finished studying Psychology (Honours) on the Mid-North Coast of NSW Australia. You’ve had a radical shift in perspective in the last year and you were so proud of how much you’ve grown. At times, you felt your university education didn’t give you enough in terms of non-Western psychology, so you went out to seek more knowledge about the world. I hope you’re still on that path of lifelong learning about yourself and everything beyond you.

You have just started training to become a Psychologist in a youth mental health organisation. Finally, the day is finally here! I wonder how much you have changed as a person throughout your work in mental health. You are completely excited about everything you will experience in life, everything you experience each day. In 2029, are you jaded? Hopefully, you turned towards other things that gave you energy before you let yourself get burnt out.

You love the little island of Siargao, Philippines. In this current moment, you felt it in your gut, your deepest intuition, that you would be back in Siargao to live there one day. It’s your home away from home where you connect with the Filipino and Western culture, speak both languages, and are welcomed wholeheartedly by the surfer-yogi culture there. It has connected you deeper into the practice of spirituality through surf, yoga, mantra meditation, nature, and knowing your roots. You saw yourself living in a humble surf shack by the beach in General Luna practicing yoga, catching waves, and holding mental space for others. You saw yourself empowering the Siargao community, especially the children, to be granted with greater opportunities in life. Did you end up doing it?

You still aren’t completely comfortable being your authentic self around others. You recognise the power you have to express yourself emotionally, yet you often hold back in hesitation that others may not be able to hold space for you. I hope that in 2029, you are channelling your inner power to connect with others and walk alongside them in the wonderful journey of life.

As of right now, you aren’t sure whether you want children but you are so deeply in love with their playfulness, creativity, and present nature in life. You love 13-year-old Alayne, 7-year-old Allysia, almost 1-year old Xavier, and your niece-to-be ever so much. It’s been a wonderful year of seeing them grow and you’ve felt blessed to be able to grow with them. At times, it feels like you don’t see them enough but you are consciously making the effort to see them more especially in the new year.

Maejoy, your dad passed away exactly four months ago from today. He was a beautiful, beautiful soul and to this day, you miss him deeply. Life hasn’t really been the same since he left this physical world, but he crosses your mind daily and you continue to embody the values of generosity, equanimity and peacefulness which he so kindly passed on to you. It’s now been 10 years since he passed away and I can imagine that the pain is still there, but each day, it gets easier and easier such that it has given you the strength to continue living your best life. Do you still see daddy’s qualities in yourself today?

Maejoy, you hold family so close to your heart. This is something mum and dad instilled within you at a young age and at this moment, are eternally grateful that they passed this on to you. Now family is not just towards those who are related by blood but also to the brothers and sisters who live alongside you in this wonderful path of life.

I wonder where you’re living today, Maejoy. You’re probably still practicing as a Psychologist because that has always been one of your greatest passions. Maybe you’re out there finally working overseas. Did you end up having a little stint in humanitarian work?

Maejoy, do you love yourself unconditionally? Are you honouring the things that are important in you? I know you wouldn’t want to live life any other way. I imagine the sacrifices you’ve made in life have been difficult, but they’ve all brought you to this very moment in your life and I am proud of you for putting yourself first.

With love,
Your past self

For you…

Thank you for holding space for me to share my deepest self with you. I encourage you to give yourself a moment today to write to your future self as well. You’ll thank yourself one day. Feel free to share it with me and others.

  • There are no rules with how to write to your future self. Express yourself in your truest form. But if you continue to struggle with this, here are some prompts: How are you in your current self? How do you see your ideal life 10 years from now? What are the most important things to you today? What do you hope is still important to you in 10 years?
  • Once you’ve written it, post it on http://www.futureme.org/ and they will email it to you in 3, 5 or 10 years. Let’s hope the internet doesn’t crash before then!
  • If you want to continue this journey of self-reflection, a local Psychologist may be able to help you with inner work. If this has been overwhelming for you, let me know.

A few concluding notes

I took out some sections that are deeply personal to me. For example, reflections on my relationships with loved ones, my relationship with intimacy, etc. In writing your letter, I encourage you not to hold back.

I am always open to connecting with others and hearing ideas on what you’d like me to write about. Contact me on maejoyobach@gmail.com

______________________________________

References:

Hwang, K. K. (2015). Morality ‘East’and ‘West’: cultural concerns. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 806-810.

Why self-discipline is an act of self-love

Are you a procrastinator? Do you scroll through your social media feed without realising? Have you ever caught a sunrise or do you find yourself sleeping in most mornings? We’ve grown conditioned to view discipline as a difficult, negative restriction we place upon ourselves. It’s time to re-frame the way you see self-discipline from an unbearable challenge to an act of beautiful self-love.

First, let’s address the question: Why is self-discipline an act of self-love?

1. You learn to face your problems and fears

“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”
–Judy Blume

When we face our problems and fears, we allow space for personal growth. It is through the discomfort of facing problems that we cultivate courage and wisdom. Life is suffering is the first Noble Truth posited by Buddhist teachings which encapsulates the life we are all experiencing. That is, life wouldn’t be what it is without our problems and fears which we all experience. Once we can accept that this is inevitable, we have a choice to either become complacent in our problems or discipline ourselves to try our best to solve them.

So, what happens when we shy away from a problem or fear? We limit our ability to work through and solve the problem, meaning that it’s likely to arise again in the future. It is only when we face these situations head on that we can learn more about ourselves, develop personal growth, and move closer to our highest human potential.

2. You teach yourself the skills to build good habits

Delayed discounting is the willingness to tolerate longer delays in order to receive a preferred reward in contrast to receiving a lesser preferred award. Have you ever heard of the marshmallow experiment where children could either eat a marshmallow now or wait a few minutes and instead receive two marshmallows? That’s delayed discounting. Another example is resisting the temptation to check your smartphone when you’re having coffee with a friend. The reward is knowing that you devoted yourself wholeheartedly with full focus to your loved one.

Why is this important? Our ability to delay discounting dictates whether we’ll stick to our habits which are ultimately the building blocks for a satisfying life. In particular, researchers have showed that delayed discounting in our daily activities predicted better eating habits, greater exercising and overall healthier lives (Daugherty and Brase, 2010). Disciplining ourselves to experience pain before pleasure will reap greater benefits for us in the end.

3. You value your time

1440. This number of minutes we have in a day. We are each given 1440 minutes which we never get back. The highest form of self-love is valuing every moment of time we have in this world to bring us closer to our heart’s deepest desires and ultimately, who we want to be.

As Scott Peck describes in The Road Less Travelled, authentically perceiving ourselves as valuable means we’ll care for ourselves in all ways necessary. Just as parents love their children through discipline, we too can strengthen our self-discipline to show ourselves the highest form of self-love because frankly, each and every one of us deserves nothing less.

______________________________________

References:

Daugherty, J. R., & Brase, G. L. (2010). Taking time to be healthy: Predicting health behaviors with delay discounting and time perspective. Personality and Individual differences, 48(2), 202-207.

Peck, S. M. (1978). The road less travelled. New York: Simon and Shuster.