Future Self Method


Explained: People have a irrational propensity to believe success always comes via their own actions but that failure is often as a result of other people's interference. The Future Self method proposes that in these moments when confronted with someone acting irrationally, we avoid confrontation by agreeing, but then pointing the individual to a future state in order to encourage self reflection and propose a rational course of action.


  1. A child blames a bad test result on information not being taught in class.
    - Action: Agree that's annoying, then suggest maybe visiting the teacher (Rational) to be sure you know what's going to appear on the test next time. (Future)
    - Self Reflection: When given the suggestion to visit the teacher, the child will reflect on why they could have actually failed. Lack of homework, preparation or attention etc.
  2. Someone falls out with a friend.
    - Action: Agree with that person, then propose the hypothetical of if they will consider this important 6 months from now. (Rational) (Future)
    - Self Reflection: When observing a small disagreement with a long term perspective, the annoyed individual will hopefully see the relative insignificance of the situation and move on.

Key Takaway: When confronted with someone who is expressing irrational behaviour, don't always look to combat irrationality with rationality. Appease the irrational behaviour and then use the 'future self method' as a way to suggest ideas in a non combative way that also provokes more rational self reflection.

ORIGIN: Where good ideas come from, by Stephen Johnson

Ricky Richards