What do you wish your younger self could have known about life, the world, and themselves?
This is the sixth and final part of Serenity in the Trenches, a series of episodes to help us find self-acceptance and true belonging when things around us feel like they’re falling apart. In this part we are spending time in conversation with ourselves. Who we are now, who we were then, and who we are in the process of becoming.
What would you say to your younger self?
This is not just a hypothetical exercise. It contains great power to change the foundations of our present. Because our experience of now, is deeply underpinned by the ghosts of ourselves from throughout our lives. A ghost is the presence of an absence. We all carry them around. The words of other people. Traumas from our past. And unique situations or experiences which took us out of our comfort zone.
By opening up dialogue with the little voice(s), we can begin to shift the beliefs, values, and feelings that are holding us back from true belonging in this moment and the future.
What are some of the things we might say?
Don’t let fear stop you doing what matters most.
Trust your gut and your ‘artist brain’. Before the second, third, and fourth thoughts stop you from acting. And have faith that you will avoid the genuinely terrible stuff.
What you’re doing now will contribute to who you will become. You will make positive change, it might not feel like it’s happening, but it is. Step by step.
Restlessness, impatience, and a desire to move with haste. These are things that might stop you from committing and persevering with what matters.
The Little Voice
We can influence the voice of our younger self. It’s one thing going back and speaking from the future. But most of us need to hear a re-writing of the story from our younger self…the ‘little voice’.
We need to feel accepted and loved from that side of our story. Otherwise we carry the restlessness, the self-berating, regret. The feeling “I’m not good enough, I’ve not done enough, I’ve let myself down.”
What if that younger self, the one with ‘their whole life ahead of them’, came into the present moment and said, “I’m proud to become you. You are enough. Thanks for continuing the story, man! It’s been gripping to watch, and wow I can’t believe the way you dealt with some of those situations you’ve been through. I would never have thought I could cope with that. But you did!”
Treat Life Like a Practice
“You’re never going to get it right. You’re never going to reach the North Star. Treat life like a practice. Look at perfection, whatever that might mean to you. But you’re never gonna really be perfect. You can just be perfectly yourself.” – Leah Burkhart
What are You Waiting For?
“Do the thing that you want to do. Do it now. Don’t wait until you feel like you’re ready or until you think it’s okay with everyone else. You don’t need permission to chase after your dreams. It doesn’t have to be okay with your friends or your family, for you to do the things that you want to do. You don’t have to live by their standards. You can make your own standards. It’s okay.” – Sarah Kuhn
“Don’t wait for perfection, or for a year from now. Don’t wait for anything else to change. Just do it now. Go build the business of your dreams. Get out of a relationship that isn’t serving you. Move to where you want to go. Whatever you want in your life. Go after it. Now.” – Cameron Airen
Know When To Quit
“Stick with it long enough to know you gave it your best shot”.
This is one of the messages I would give to my younger self. But also, “if it doesn’t feel right, don’t feel like you should stick with it just because people say you should. Trust your gut and we will deal with consequences, because knowing when to quit is an important part of the story”.
Make Your Own Rules For Life
“I think I would say, “hey, everything’s okay”. My younger self was so worried all the time. She was so worried of being criticised, was constantly criticising herself. She thought she was too weird. Too ‘out there’. She thought she got too emotionally attached and fell in love too easily.
And I would tell her all those things are wonderful. ‘Be your wonderful weird self. Fall in love, fall in love with the world, be emotionally attached, feel passionate. Those are your strengths. Those are your gifts. That intensity is a gift.”– Lauren Sapala
Our creativity and imagination are ours.
“Just do your creative work. Forget about everyone else. You’re not competing with anyone else. You’re just doing it for yourself. If you do it for yourself, it’ll become so much easier.” – Boom Shikha
Life Can Be Enjoyed
We ARE allowed to enjoy life. This is one that lands with me.
You ARE allowed to enjoy things. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel shame. And don’t suppress your emotional reaction to things, be it holding back tears of pain, OR tears of joy.
“I would also give myself permission to have fun. Before I recorded this I watched a short funny video that people were telling me about. I was laughing out loud and I thought, that’s gotta be good for me, right? Even if I didn’t get everything done on my morning list, I had a good laugh and I know that has to help me.” – Jennifer Kahnweiler
You Will Survive and Grow
There will be some big lows. But it is through those experiences that you will see how strong you truly are.
“Don’t struggle so much. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Take off the mask, be yourself and things are going to work out just fine.” – Sarah Santacroce
No One Cares as Much as You Think They Do
They’re not judging as much as you fear. And they’re not congratulating as much as you hope. Be free to go about things, enjoying the process, and living your life.
What Would You Love to Create?
“Go back into imagination and daydreaming, and then learn to bring it forward from a feeling and into the words we’re using to reinforce these things. And then the actions you take. If I could help my younger self to do that, and just say ‘you’ll find your way. What you love is the compass. What you would love to create will show you exactly where you need to go and how you need to do it.’ “ – Jacob Nordby
You’re Not Alone
I can think of times through my life when I want to swoop my younger self up and give him a big hug. To say, ‘I see you. You’re not alone.’
“It’s not this big secret that we’re introverted or highly sensitive. It’s not an unknown anymore. And because it’s not an unknown, it’s life changing. I now make sense to myself and my kids can make sense to me. I’m not confused why, when it’s the weekend, my eldest son doesn’t really want to go out. He’s not depressed, and he’s not isolated. He’s full. The hallways of junior high are pretty busy. The energy of young teenagers is pretty big. So he’s done and I love that he gets to live in that world now where there’s understanding for who he is.” – Tracy Guillet
Our Younger Selves are Everywhere
This stuff isn’t just about the inner work within ourselves. We can make a meaningful impact in the lives of others. Young people, our peers, older people. Anyone who needs to experience the life-changing truths that we’re discussing here.
Watch on YouTube
Over to You
What are you going to say to your younger self? I’d love to hear your response to this in the comments below. Or send me an email!