If you’re ever feeling sad, anxious, or overwhelmed, try what I call the “old wise woman exercise”. The way it works is to visualize an older, wiser version of yourself. The person you hope to become*. Then imagine she or he comes to you and gives you advice, informed by her years of experience and learning. You’ll find you often know what she would say. Then, as you hear her say these things you know to be true, like how you will hardly remember this situation a year from now, or that you’ll figure it out, switch to her perspective. Visualize that you are sitting or standing next to your current self and you are the wise woman. Feel how you would feel towards your younger self. Perhaps you’ll feel compassion, a little humor maybe, patience, or maybe just a feeling of love and warmth.
This wise woman or man exercise can often help you snap out of a destructive spiral and make you enact the things you know to be true and helpful but have just forgotten in the moment. Let me know in the comments how you find it and why it worked or didn’t, so I can help modify it to make it more applicable to others.
* I personally aspire to become a female, EA version of Dumbledore, but your tastes may vary.
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I'm an effective altruist who co-founded Nonlinear, Charity Entrepreneurship, and Charity Science Health (Suvita)