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Time travel machine: What advice would you give to your younger self?

01.08.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin
advice for yourself

If there was an opportunity to go back and live our lives again, many of us would take advantage to avoid the mistakes we made.

There is a popular psychological training—”letter from the future” addressed to your younger self. This exercise helps you to realize your true Self and find your hidden reserves.

Recently, The Journal of Social Psychology published the results of a systematic study by Clemson University (USA, South Carolina) on this topic. Several hundred freelancers from the crowdsourcing platform Mechanical Turk, over the age of 30, filled out questionnaires based on E.T. Higgins’ theory of self-discrepancy.

Participants were asked:

  • to give 1-3 tips to their younger selves
  • to think about whether these tips from the future would help them
  • to remember an event that became a turning point in their lives
  • to think about how they would assess/rate themselves today regarding their youth
The theory of self-discrepancy by the American psychologist Tory Higgins explains the causes of depression, anxiety and despondency at any age. These conditions arise from the discrepancy between the desired and the actual: if a person’s hopes and ambitions are not realized, he/she may experience discomfort and anxiety.

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It turned out that the most popular GEMS of advice to the younger self were related to:

  • education (choice of speciality, admission to a university, etc.)
  • relationships (choice of partner, warnings against mistakes in the relationship)
  • own individuality (“Do not succumb to influence, be yourself!”)
  • money (where to invest, how much to spend)
  • life goals (“Don’t miss your opportunity”).

Good advice is always useful, especially if the advisor knows how to do things more successfully. Listen to yourself and think ahead so when you look back you don’t regret your actions and decisions.