How do you take care of 'Future You'?
In the past I have often been overly optimistic about the capacity future me would have. I generally believed that somewhere between current me and future me all the difficulties I had would melt away and that I would suddenly become a social butterfly with no anxiety or sensory overwhelm. Because of this belief I would overschedule and over promise for my future self, which often ended up with me being overwhelmed at best and moving towards burnout at worst.
There were many factors that led to this optimism: being a chronic people pleaser, struggling to acknowledge (let alone attend to) my needs, not understanding how my brain worked. Looking at that list now I can see that most of it came from being an undiagnosed, high masking autistic for most of my life. A big part of my journey since recognising my autistic identity has been to start unlearning some of these habits and behaviours while scaffolding in more helpful ways of being. In some ways it felt like cheating because I’d spent so many years working against my body and brain, to finally give myself permission to do things ‘the easy way’ felt very uncomfortable. However, the more I look after ‘future Louise’ by attending to the needs of ‘present Louise’ the happier I am and the more capacity I find I have in all areas of my life.
These gifts to my future self are now a core part of my self-care whether its blocking off days to have no plans, spending a morning batch cooking for when feeding myself feels hard or laying out my clothes the night before. I know that all these things have value, because present me will one day be future me and I want her to know that being cared for is not something she has to earn, but something that she can always offer herself. An important part of this for me is scheduling in regular time off in advance, it’s a big way in which I avoid going into autistic burnout and allows me to maintain the quality of my work with my clients and supervisees.
With this in mind, I’m about to take a two week break so won’t be available, but I will be back in the office on Tuesday 16th of May. But, Id love to know how do you (or could you) show care to future you?