Relationships: What advice you would give to your younger self?
April 17, 2014
Editor's note: This column is from "The Best of Neil Rosenthal."
Imagine if you could go back in time and meet the younger you — the you of 20 years ago (or 30 or 40 years ago, depending on your age). Let's say that the you of today could advise the younger you. What advice would you give?
I know, the die already has been cast regarding all of your previous mistakes, missed opportunities, foolish choices and lack of vision. So humor me, then. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Would you tell yourself to be less impulsive, more driven, less hot-headed, more willing to take risks, less timid, more accountable to yourself, more responsible to others?
Don’t make the mistake of dreaming about something but not acting on it. Quit wishing that wonderful things will just happen on their own — go out and make them happen.
WHAT I WOULD TELL MYSELF
Here's the advice I would offer to my younger self: "Neil, you're capable of way more than you think, and you are able to grow into new roles and new identities, so don't let setbacks stop you from going after what you seek. You'll make it — just remain persistent, and don't give up. Also, find a consistent way to have fun and to enjoy yourself more, pal. And regarding intimacy, I know for a fact that if you choose hotheaded, self-absorbed, defensive women rather than the one you can live with compatibly, you're going to regret it for a long time. So choose very wisely, my friend, because the wrong life partner will give you serious brain damage."
WRITE IT DOWN
Now, I invite you to try it. What would you advise yourself as a younger person? Don't just think it or speak it — write it down. This will help you delve deeper into the exercise.
create your own destiny
Now imagine that you are able to ask advice from the future you — the person you will become 10, 20 or 30 years from now. Imagine sitting on a couch next to your future older (and hopefully wiser) self asking for advice or guidance. How would he or she advise you? Again, write this advice down, don't just think it.
Here's my future self's advice to me: "Make a list of everything you would like to accomplish or experience before you die (what some call the bucket list), and then go after those goals with all you've got.
Don't make the mistake of dreaming about something but not acting on it. Quit wishing that wonderful things will just happen on their own — go out and make them happen.
Also, always do your best. In every circumstance, in every encounter, in every relationship, always strive to do your very best. And one more thing: Exercise more and lose some weight, and do it now."
So what does your future self — the person you will become years from now — advise you to do? Regardless of the job your parents did for you in your earlier years, this is about becoming your own parent now. That means you can guide yourself, teach yourself, hold yourself accountable and give yourself approval, acknowledgment, praise and encouragement.
And who knows; You might be better at it than your own parents were. And that would make you your own best parent.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. His column is in its 22nd year of publication and is syndicated around the world. You can reach him at 303-758-8777 or email him through his website, http://www.heartrelationships.com. He is not able to respond individually to queries.