Writing letters to yourself

by - November 03, 2019

How writing letters to myself has helped me

Letters with hearts in them

Yes, this sounds strange- sounds like something that could just make you feel awfully awkward and weird. But, writing letters to myself is something I started doing over the last 2 years and it's helped me in many ways. It has been a way I have motivated myself, got myself out of slumps and explored how I feel from more of an outside perspective. It has even helped with my self-esteem. I will admit it can feel a bit odd at the start, but there is a beauty to writing something just for you.

I started writing letters to myself maybe 2 or so years ago as a way to try and lift my mood and make myself feel better. I’ve found that sometimes I’m a person that can give really good advice to other people and help them, but can’t seem to do it when it’s me. When it’s me I don’t seem to want to listen to my own advice or talk to myself the way I would talk to a close friend or family. I tend to be really harsh and impose unrealistic expectations on myself - hold myself to a standard that I would never hold anyone else to. This is one of the ways that writing letters to myself has really helped me - when I write to myself I always write from the perspective of what I would say to someone I love and care about if they were in my situation. By writing to yourself in this way, you’re detaching yourself a little from your own feelings and it can help you think with clarity. For me, it enabled me to better see my inner dialogue and the kind of things I was saying to myself. It allowed me to rationalise and really think about whether what I was asking myself is an unrealistic goal I would not expect someone else to do. What would you do if it was someone else in the situation asking you for advice? Would you talk to them in the harsh ways you may be talking to yourself?

I also find that no one quite knows you the way you know yourself. In that way, you are sometimes the best placed to know what’s best for you and say things to yourself that you know will lift you up. You are the person that knows your situation best. So in letters where you speak to yourself from an outside perspective, you can say the things that you would want to hear. You can be your own motivator. Almost like when writing in a diary, writing to yourself allows you to release your emotions in a healthy way. Sometimes if I know I have a more stressful moment coming up, addressing it to a future me when I know I'll need to hear my own words of advice and ground myself helps.

By writing from an outside perspective, you are naturally being kinder to yourself. There is substantial research highlighting that generally, we are much stricter on ourselves than we would be to a close friend or family member. Writing letters to yourself where you address it to someone like you helps change the way you talk to yourself. I found writing a letter to myself when I felt disappointed and saying things that I would have said to a friend stopped me beating myself up for something that could happen to anyone.

It does feel strange at the beginning writing to yourself. I definitely found it took a little getting used to. But, I would say try it out- don't let the fear of outside judgement stop you. After all the letter is for you and you only. Write to yourself like you are a close friend- you may find it surprisingly helpful and therapeutic the way I have. At the end of the day, who says you can't be your own best friend and motivator?

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