Your best future self

Crossposted from facebook. Not the sort of thing I typically write for LessWrong.

Epistemic status: poetry

A thing I realized recently is that you can pray to your best future self.

Your future self knows exactly what you are going through, because they were once you. You don’t have to struggle to put your stress and anxiety and anger and frustration into words, and worry that the person you’re talking to won’t get it, or that the process of putting it into words will have you dwelling on things too much and making it worse.

Your future self will just be there. And they will know exactly what you have experienced. And they will be older, stronger, wiser. They will know your pain, and they will know that the pain can be overcome. Your future self loves you unconditionally as no other person can.

They may not be able to talk to you, in detail, without you having to put more effort into figuring out what you need help with exactly, and maybe that part will involve putting things into words, but the words will not have to be for anyone else’s benefit, just yours, and as soon as you’ve figured out what things you’re _trying_ to ask your future self will just know.

Your future self may or may not be able to offer useful advice. I think sometimes they can. Some parts of them already live in side you, already strong. They have the skills you have, just untethered by the stress of your current situation. Your future self can offer guidance about those things.

In some cases, your future self can offer guidance in domains you’re still sorting out, because humans have a weird racial bonus for social-simulation-cognition.

But even when your future self doesn’t know any better than you, what they can offer immediately, without hesitation, is empathy and unconditional love. They see you exactly as you are. They are holding your hand or giving you a hug or maybe just looking at you warmly from a little distance if that’s what you need.

They know about your flaws. They know how much work and/​or time it’ll take to overcome those flaws. But they know you will eventually overcome them. They love you anyway, and they will always be there for you if you need them.

There is… an important sense in which your future self doesn’t exist. But there are at least two important senses in which they do.

The first way they exist is a bit speculative, but does match my current sense of how to think about the future. Your future self exists probabilistically.

They might literally exist, fractionally, depending on your metaphysics.

They may not literally exist, but there is a real, probabilistic chance that they _will_ exist, and you can pray to the branching possible subjective futures for the most relevant, experienced, competent and compassionate version of yourself to be here with you right now.

The second way is that they exist inside you. They may have already existed, or they may exist now that you’ve read this essay. I think it is possible for you to cultivate them, and strengthen your connection with them – no matter how real they are in an objective, externally verifiable future sense.

And if you struggle to make them real—if they are only on the cusp of realness because simulating future beings is tricky for you, or because you don’t believe you can ever overcome the challenges that would prevent you from becoming them....

...well, I don’t know how much this helps, but *I* believe in them. And I believe in your capacity to become them.

If we know each other well, there are probably specific and concrete ways that I believe in you and your future self. I can’t offer this to everyone but I may be able to offer it to people I have an existing relationship with. If we don’t know each other well, I’m believing in you in the sense that I believe in everyone. I may not be able to crisply and clearly convey that to you. But it is a real sense. I really do believe in everyone, in this particular way.

“This particular way” is doing a bit of work. I think your coherent, extrapolated self may know things you don’t know, and may have learned that some of your goals were misguided. Because your ability to communicate with them is bottlenecked on your current skills and beliefs, I can’t vouch for the advice they might give.

But I can vouch for their empathy, understanding, and love.

I believe there is at least one potential future where you unfold beautifully, triumphantly. Where you became the epic level version of yourself, with the experience to anticipate and resolve the problems you currently face, and the compassion to reach back through time and hold your hand and say “Geez, it was awful that we experienced that, and I can’t make all these problems go away right now. But I can be there with you to help you through it, and give the best advice we can.” And maybe something about even listening to someone take you completely at face value is sort of painful somehow, but they understand that too.

I don’t know if this is helpful to you. But I found it helpful to me, and wanted to share.