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Posted 08/24/2022 in Category 1

What is your best possible self?

What is your best possible self?

In psychology, we use an exercise that promotes a positive view of oneself in the best potential future after working hard to achieve it. We call this exercise the best possible self.  It is a widely used intervention with many people, especially athletes benefitting from the engagement. But is the exercise worth the effort?

Despite all the research over the past 20 years, what do we know about the value of this exercise for someone’s well-being? Until recently, we knew little about the overall effectiveness of such an exercise to increase wellbeing outcomes. Carrillo and colleagues conducted a recent meta-analysis to understand the value of this intervention on the well-being of those taking up the effort. The researchers included 29 studies in their analysis. 2,909 participants took part in the research studies. The researchers in the 29 studies had measured well-being, optimism, depressive symptoms, and positive and negative feelings. The meta-analysis results are simple. The exercise about the best possible self is effective in improving well-being, optimism, and positive affect (feelings) compared with those who do not do the exercise. The exercise also helps to reduce negative feelings and depressive symptoms too. More gains emerged for older people, so such exercises over time are exactly what we need to feel better, more often. 

 But what is the detail? If I write about my best possible self in the future and am working hard to achieve it, I will feel more optimistic, connected and better in the future. This well-being helps us, as athletes, to manage and care for ourselves and translate this well-being to the course, court, pitch or pool. You could write about your best possible self in a notebook or on your phone, once a month and work hard to achieve your best possible self. Perhaps we need more detail and guidance for what works best, most often. 

The Best Possible Self is writing about one’s best possible self in the future after everything has thrived. There is little to stop anyone from taking out their phone right now and writing about your best possible self in the future. You could even just speak it into an audio message. 

What is most interesting, however, it that many sport psychologists work with athletes and one element of their work would be for athletes to tell the sport psychologist what they see as their best possible self in the unfolding future? Unbeknownst to the athletes, they are already working towards greater optimism, well-being and positivity. The strength of this intervention is that while working with a sport psychologist is an excellent opportunity, for those who cannot work with a sport psychologist, athletes can help themselves by setting up an exercise of your best possible self to complete. The more athletes work towards greater psychological work on their own, the greater their ownership and development from the shoulders up. Athletes can help themselves to a better life, and here is a wonderful starting point. 


Carrillo A, Rubio-Aparicio M, Molinari G, Enrique A´, Sa´nchez-Meca J, Baños RM (2019) Effects of the best possible self intervention: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS ONE 14(9): e0222386. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal. pone.0222386

Image by Daria Nepriakhina from Pixabay