When visualising my future, what shall I focus on?

When visualising my future, what shall I focus on?

Positive psychology, as a field determined to develop techniques and discover aspects that influence our psychological well-being, tries to grasp for example what influence our judgement about ones future has on our emotional state. The “Best Possible Self (BPS)” intervention directly tackles this question. The subject is asked to write about their best possible future self and afterwards imagine this future, where he/she has achieved all their goals and all their dreams have come true. Little is known so far about the underlying mechanisms, that accompany the effects of this exercise. 

A study by Carrillo et el. (2019), investigated what accompanied the positive effects of the exercise. Seventy-eight participants where asked to write an essay about their best possible future self or best past self for 15 minutes, and then asked to visualise this person for five minutes. So what did people actually write? And what tends to help? 

Apparently, when people wrote about their future and included their own positive features or their relationships with their family, this led to larger texts and greater levels of positive emotions afterwards. When they wrote about their past and included relationships with their friends and partners, this led to greater positivity in the texts and greater increase in positive emotions. 

So when practicing this exercise by yourself or in a clinical setting you could just try to narrow your focus a bit and see what effects it will have on your emotional state. And hopefully, it will cheer you up.

Carrillo, A., Martínez-Sanchis, M., Etchemendy, E., & Baños, R. M. (2019). Qualitative analysis of the Best Possible Self intervention: Underlying mechanisms that influence its efficacy. Plos One, 14(5). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0216896

Written by P. Kraft

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