Talking To Your Younger-self
Last week I wrote a blog post called “To My Kids…”
Writing it was an intensely emotional experience for me. I found it very moving to think about the future that I wanted for my kids. But I also found it very emotional because I realized that some of the advice that I was giving my kids… I was really giving myself – my younger-self. Some of those things were things I wish someone had said to me when I was younger.
I think the one that had the most impact on me – the one that actually reduced me to tears – was “you don’t need to have it all figured out”. As I wrote that line, I realized that as a kid, for some reason, I had it in my head that I DID need to have it all figured out.
In some respects, growing up with the mantra “I need to have it all figured out” served me well. I did well in school and was always on the honor roll. I was clever and able to pick things up quickly. But in other areas, that mantra left me paralyzed. I wouldn’t take any action unless I felt that I had considered all of the possible outcomes and had contingencies ready for each. I didn’t live as fully as I might have. I didn’t take many risks. I played it safe.
When I embraced my mortality, I realized how silly that was and changed my thinking. (Well, for the most part.) But as I wrote that letter to my kids, I felt so sad for the young boy I used to be – the one who felt the pressure of needing to have it all figured out. I imagined hugging him (my younger-self) and telling him all the things I was telling my own kids.
It was an incredibly emotional and cathartic experience!
And it left me wondering… why do so many of us do that? We say loving things to our children and say nice things to others, complimenting them, encouraging them, supporting them, and cheering them on. Yet we won’t do the same for ourselves. We can be our own worst critic – the harshest judge of ourselves.
What about this idea? When it comes to criticism – if you wouldn’t say it to your young kids, don’t say it to yourself either. And when it comes to praising, encouraging and supporting – acknowledge that you deserve to treat yourself as lovingly as you treat your children!
(And for a potentially unforgettable experience – why not write your younger-self a letter?)