I began using self-affirmations a few years ago. I write them down on little index cards and keep them posted in my room as reminders. My thoughts tend to turn toward the negatives, and the self-affirmations help. One of my favorites, which has become a mantra, is, “You owe it to your future self.”
I heard the affirmation on a podcast several years ago. The podcast is called On Being and the show was about suicide awareness. The person being interviewed on the podcast had written a book called, Stay, which is about the history of suicide and the philosophies against it.
While I’ve never attempted suicide, I have struggled with the thoughts over the years during my darkest moments. I thought the “future self” affirmation was great and I soon adopted it as one of my own.
What the affirmation means to me is, basically, I cannot predict my future or what may happen. Though I may feel depressed in the present, I’m often astounded by good things that happen and unfold in the future. I cling to the affirmation when depressed because it gives me the inner-knowing that, as we say in recovery, “This too shall pass.”
I think the affirmation is especially powerful when I have suicidal thoughts because it reminds me that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Eventually, my depression will lift and I’ll feel better, and I’ll thank my “past self” for not giving in to such self-destructive impulses.
The “future self” affirmation also helps me stay disciplined when I’m working toward my goals. It helps me look at the big picture. Often, I won’t feel like doing something tedious or hard that helps me work toward my goals. But when I think of my “future self,” I know the work I do now, no matter how small, pushes me closer to achieving a goal in the future.
So, in the midst of this pandemic, I’ve been thinking of that affirmation a lot. There are things happening that I don’t like right now, and I’ve spent some days wallowing in depression. Other days, though, I feel inspired to work and march toward an unknown future.
What does the future hold? I’m not sure. But I learned early in recovery that if I take small, positive actions today, I can inch forward toward a positive future. I think I owe that much to my future self.