Past, Present, and Future Selves talk all the time, sometimes messing with your day.

It just may not be obvious.

Here’s one seemingly absurd conversation…


Present Self: “Why don’t you do it?”

Future Self: “Why didn’t you do it?”

Past Self: “I didn’t feel like it.”

Present: “I don’t either. But hang on, I’ve got an idea.”

Past/Future: “Oh yeah, what’s that?”

Present: “I’ll do it later.”

Future: “Wait, then I’ll have to do it.”

Present: “Yeah, but not until later.”

Future: “Good idea. You know what, I’ll set a deadline.”

Past/Present: “Oh yeah! That totally gets us going.”

Further Future: “Ahem. ”

Present: “What do you want?”

Further Future: “The deadline is clearly BS. I’m not doing it either. Look Present You – you just need to start.”

Present: “Yes, I *just* need to start. But, you know what? You don’t know me. It’s been rough. There’s a ton of other important things going on. I just got yelled at, and I’m not going to yell at myself. I’m feeling defeated, exhausted, …”

“So you know what? I’ll do it later. Tell you what. I’m going to write it IN BOLD on my brand new notebook. I’ll also write it on the fridge, and I’ll post about it online.”

Future: “I’m not going to see those. They’ll quickly blend into the background.”

Present: “But I’m using new colors!”

Past: “When has that worked? Look, I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t you try a new app? You know, the one from the podcast?”

Present: “Awesome!”

… hours/days later…

Past: “You still didn’t do it.”

Present: “Shut up, you don’t exist anymore”

Future: “Look, maybe things’ll just work out”

Present: “I’m not so sure you exist, either. Whatever, I’m watching that new show.”

The turbulence of ADHD and other wandering minds often perpetuate through the war between the selves.

The anger towards one’s self becomes projected on past and future selves, whether in phrases like “you don’t know me now” or the passive-aggresive “I’ll do it later”. These demands are forms of abuse, further creating crashing waves, difficult for anyone to navigate.

Like all relationships, working and repairing them is not a simple quick fix. You won’t find a repair in a top ten listicle.

It’s about learning to build honor and trust.

– How do you honor the intentions of Past You?
– How do you respect the desires and concerns of Present You?
– How do you care for the unknown Future You?

When we simultaneously exercise all three of these the waves begin to calm. You might even start engaging the desired waves that can carry you forward.

It might seem impossible. But so was walking at one point. You learn a little here, a little there, and at some point, you try the little things together. Batching a few of those and soon you stand. And then fall on your face.

Then do it again.

At some point, not only are you standing and walking, you start finding places to go, things to do, and even building the world around you to help you thrive.