Day 7 Best possible self

At present a lot of people I am in discussion with are worrying about the future and what the world will be like when we try to resume our normal lives. Imagining the best possible self operating in a positive environment at this time may sound like an impossible task. Certainly this exercise may not be for everyone at this time, particularly if you are dealing with bereavement.

The Best Possible Self exercise is a well used psychology tool. It is an intervention that involves imagining your ideal self and feeling the joy that you could feel. It is designed to help you feel optimistic about the future. It is also designed to help you to learn more about yourself and what you would really like to happen in times to come. Some of my clients have mentioned using this time to re-evaluate their lives and make change when normal life resumes, this exercise is very helpful if that has been coming up for you. It is also a form of mental rehearsal. The way a footballer rehearses scoring a winning goal or a runner envisages crossing the winning line first.  We rehearse being our best possible selves so it feels easier to move in that direction.

How to Do It

This is a visualisation exercise. Take a moment to imagine your life in the future, when all of the difficulties of the current crisis have passed. What would a happy life look like for you

Visualise feeling really good in yourself, visualise feeling strong, positive, happy, visualise feeling loved, loving and lovable, visualise feeling your life is on track. Imagine this with all of your creative abilities. Use your senses to visualise this. You are impersonating your best self. What do you look like, what are you wearing, what are you seeing around you, what are you feeling in your body, what are you smelling, tasting, hearing. Who are you when you are at your best, what does your life around you look like when you are at your best. See yourself as having achieved different things. Try and visualise things that are not too fantastical but attainable in reality without curbing your dreams. Visualise things going well for you in many areas of your life, career, academic work, relationships, hobbies, and health. What would happen in these areas of your life in your best possible future.

Write it down!

Try and get a really clear image, try and really get a sense of this optimal self as if you are him or her already. Write about the details. Write down how you feel as this person, who you are, what you see, taste, hear, feel, think. Writing it down helps to create a logical structure for the future and can help you move from the realm of fragmented thoughts to concrete possibilities. What character strengths are you seeing? How are these helpful to you? What behaviours and activities will you be using to bring you there? What would you be doing more of, what would you be doing less of? What are the key aspects of your vision? Who would be helping you?

As you do this exercise you may find your inner cynic creates lots of resistance as to why you cannot accomplish these goals, it will present you with financial, social, time issues and innumerable barriers. For the purpose of this exercise, we encourage you to focus on the future and what are the positive ways it could be different.

Imagine a brighter future in which you are your best self and your circumstances change just enough to make this best possible life happen.

When we can clearly visualise something, see it in our minds eye and mentally rehearse it, it helps us to create change. Ideally the Best self exercise, the Visualisation part is done once or twice a day over two weeks. It can really help guide you to making the changes you would like to make focusing on the changes that are within your control. It can also help you feel more optimistic about the future.

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