Towards the end of the year I came across an article whose title caught me: "Self-Discipline is Just Empathy With Your Future Self." This season the world online is glutted with titles that tap into the shame that lies just beneath the surface the whole holidays through. I don't even care to name them; we know as a culture that this is the season for self-flagellation and the constriction of all our belts. Insecurities get nudged or even full-scale triggered by a casual scroll through a news feed. But this idea, the concept that today's choices can actually be an act of kindness toward my future self, this is the kind of idea I want to keep ringing, keep calling to me.
I don't have a lot further to write than just that simple idea. What would it mean for us if, day to day, we tapped into empathy for our future self? Not judgement for that self, who might be even more bogged down by stress and relational complexities in April than she is today? I am trying to picture myself when the sun has returned to us in full strength, and think about what she might need this winter to give her the nourishment, the growth in the deep soul, the unwinding of knots in muscles or thoughts that she needs, so that she can water her gardens both literal and proverbial when the days are longer. And I hope that she, in turn, will have empathy for the one who lies ahead of her in the season of harvest and the one who will again take up holiday traditions tinged with the ghosts of all the years.
I can't know what me or you in twelve weeks will need, specifically. But these things I can imagine: she will need strong connection with those she loves, so why not make plans to delve into deep conversations and have fun with those people now? She will require not only strength but the strength of her body to be in tune with the strength of her heart, so practicing mindfulness along with moving the blood and muscles through exercise will create good. She will need to be nourished, so let's feed her well with lots of color and texture and quality. And she will need to be held, she will always need to be held, so let's buy her a new journal or find her a good therapist who will listen deeply and well or let's plan her a day in the forest or at the spa. Let's imagine her with kindness; let's look into her eyes and feel what she needs, and actually give it to her.