On an impulse between deadlines and work obligations, I dashed out for a swim the other day. I used to swim every week, but haven't gone for a while. I just grabbed the opportunity and my swimming bag and went. After thirty lengths, I had just enough time to wash my hair before heading on to the rest of a busy day. In the shower, I delved into my bag to find my shampoo bottle... empty. A tiny and very first world problem, I know. But an inconvenience, a small stress added to a number of small frustrations that day. Cumulatively it was the last thing I needed. Feeling (disproportionately) put out I slammed the bottle back in my bag and found, to my delight and surprise, a new full shampoo that I have no memory of buying or putting in there. Sincerely, I have no memory of this.
This is such a tiny insignificant thing. The smallest of small issues. But I really value this idea that I'd looked after my future self. At some point in history, I'd had the forethought to imagine my future needs and supply a solution. Nothing life transformingly forward thinking like writing a will, or organising life insurance, or flossing. It was something very tiny, but tender.
Generally speaking, I'm quite good at being kind to others. I really like listening to people when they need to talk something through. I try to be a good friend - text or ring when people need support. I enjoy encouraging people, spotting what they're good at and being positive about it. But I'm often not very good at this with myself. If I thought about other people the way I think about myself, I would consider myself a pretty horrible person. I don't regard myself very kindly. I berate myself a lot. I tend to pull apart things I've done, looking for the mistakes, rather than what went well. I agonise over stuff I've said, thought or done that didn't come out right, instead of focussing on the larger percentage that is positive and uplifting. I can be a thoroughly nasty person, when it comes to me. With myself, I'm often not very kind or thoughtful.
I know I'm not the only one. Perhaps this berating of self resonates with you. If it doesn't and you find it easy to be kind to yourself, I'd love to know how to do it. I think this is why the shampoo-in-swimming-bag touched me deeply. it was a cherishing, thoughtful act to myself - my future self. A tiny but loving act of kindness, that I'd forgotten all about.
So, in a resolve to continue this, today I've written a kind letter to myself a year in the future, via FutureMe. Through this website, you can write a letter to yourself at some date in the future and it will be forwarded to you then. You can make it private (I did!) or anonymously public. There are some touching and intriguing ones up there on the website to read. In my letter I was encouraging, supportive and mindful of where I might be in 12 months time. I'm hoping when I get it I will have forgotten I sent it, a bit like finding a full bottle of shampoo on a busy day when I thought I'd run out. A kind and surprising message in a bottle.