UK News > Psychologists have traditionally focused on the past – what if that’s wrong?
For more than a century, psychologists such as Sigmund Freud and Carl Rogers focus people’s attention on the past. And so, when Mary struggled to stay romantic, she blamed her previous boyfriends for it. As Chris battles addiction, he delves into his memories from the childhood when he first felt humiliated. And when Saoirse doesn’t want to settle down, she considers her free-spirited nature to be the youngest child in the family.
But what if these psychologists get it wrong? What if it’s not the past but the way we see the future that is holding us back, preventing us from becoming the best version of ourselves?
Psychological research has become obsessed with finding the causes of mental health. However, a growing body of research shows that focusing on the future can protect us from depression and help us cope with stress. more effective. Sometimes, instead of dissecting our negative memories, we need to focus on getting a better understanding of our how we see our future.
Much veteran, refugees and others someone who has been through trauma and have mental health problems spend little time thinking about the future. Instead, they have a limited focus on the negative past.
However, those who have experienced trauma and developed a healthy future report face life better, think less negatively about the past, and sleep better than those with negative views about the future. So, instead of focusing on the past, traumatized people should be encouraged to think about the future and set goals that help them develop hope for a better future. good life.
Thinking about a positive future can help us develop healthy relationships for the days ahead and be more open to life and its opportunities. With this in mind, Julie Round (a qualitative researcher) and I tested with a small group of newly retired women, some of them feel anxious thinking about their future. They wonder what to do with the rest of their lives. Some even question their usefulness in this world, making them feel worse about themselves. When we asked them how they felt about setting goals, they had mixed feelings.
We started off light by helping them create a more positive future. Every day for four days, they write for 20 minutes about their “best retired selves.” They imagine their dreams coming true. They then explore building factors (such as home, family, and entertainment) to achieve their best future selves. They imagine that everything is going according to plan, and are encouraged to think about what life will be like five years from now.
On the last day of the study, they imagined their 80th birthday with their senses (eg, what it smelled like and who was there with them? – including people they hadn’t met). We then asked them to set goals for their lives ahead.
A week after the operation, they continued to experience mixed emotions. They need time to process their future – all the things they expect and the things they fear. However, a positive change was noted three months later, when they reported greater calm and enthusiasm for the future. The image of them on their 80th birthday still lingers with them, and they want to make sure they’ve contributed to friends, family, and society exactly as they planned.
Four techniques to create a better future
“Retired best self,” or more generally, “the best you can be,” is just one of many activities you can engage in to help you create a more positive future to work towards. . Other activities include:
Anticipate enjoy. Consider the smaller and more significant things happening in the near or distant future. Imagine what it would be like if everything went well for you. Enjoy the positive feelings afterwards.
Growing Hope. Hope is about finding the will and the way to achieve something we want in our lives. Try to define what you want in your future and think about how to get there. With no way out, you may feel helpless about your situation.
Imagine all your problems solved. Project yourself to a time when all the problems you are facing today will be solved. Now describe in detail how you achieved this.
Goal development. Make a list of goals you want to achieve. Now complete Value in Action (VIA) survey of character strengths and identify how your strengths can help you achieve your meaningful goals.
Focusing on the future provides us with choices and acknowledges that we have free will, and are not just the product of childhood or other adverse life events. We have no say in the past, but we can create a better future if we choose to face it and step into it with confidence.
This does not mean that we should live in denial. In fact, the opposite is true. We acknowledge that bad things have happened, but we also acknowledge that we wanted a promising future for ourselves and chose to focus our attention on creating it. See it as a starting point to make it a reality.