A couple of months ago I took part in a writing workshop and one of the exercises was surprisingly emotional for all of us: we were tasked with writing letters to ourselves.
Taking the time to put pen to paper to write a letter no one else will ever read gives you a space to be completely honest. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar: speak your truth, be as open as you can and don’t worry about how it reads.
Write a love letter
We are all guilty of being overcritical of ourselves. The internal dialogue that happens when we sometimes look in the mirror and all the stuff we say to ourselves during the course of our day to day lives. Imagine saying the things we silently say to ourselves out loud to someone else? Imagine saying that to someone we love?
Writing a love letter to yourself is a fantastic way to explore self-love. Instead of constantly focussing on your flaws, you take the chance to remind yourself of all the things you love about yourself. Your beautiful eyelashes that you always get complimented on, your womanly curves, the way you can make others laugh, how good you are at pub quizzes… There are endless positives to write about yourself, if you just take the time to do it. Don’t cut corners. Take the time and effort to write a proper letter with proper formatting.
And remember, love letters are supposed to be read back regularly!
Write a letter for the future
Many people like to write to their future selves as a way of goal setting or dream ideation. You can be as elaborate as you want because remember, nobody else will read it. Living with MS, my dream future may feel very uncertain at times, but I don’t let that stop me. As a photographer, my dream is to see and photograph the Northern Lights. At the moment, MS is stopping me from doing that, but it does me good to dream.
Your future date doesn’t have to be far away either. For example, you could use the letter to remind yourself to enjoy your upcoming wedding day to the fullest, remembering to pause every so often and take it all in. Another example would be to help you through something you are worrying about, like a medical procedure or a driving test. The letter can act as friendly support to help you get through the day.
Write a letter to the past
Think back to a point in time when you felt vulnerable, during a time when you were struggling and needed someone to tell you that everything will be OK. Did your worries materialise, or was it not so bad after all? Have you learned to deal with things a lot better than you hoped? Can you tell your old self how to tackle those really tough times?
I chose the day of my MS diagnosis. I wrote a letter to the self who had to experience the shock and emotional pain, and I was able to tell that self how stuff has worked out better than I feared. I even shared some lessons that I have since learned.
MS is one hell of a rollercoaster, not only with lows, but also many highs. I told my past self about all the really positive things and it served as a reminder that I’ve got this.
Writing this letter can help you really stand back, process, create some perspective and help you analyse and work through a trauma from the past. Sometimes, it is easier to find the words by writing and it down and may even be something that you can work through with a therapist.
Whether it’s a letter written to yourself as you are now, as you were, or as you’d like to be in the future, putting your love, compassion and support for yourself down on paper can go a long way to redress the uncertainty, guilt and worry so many of us live with. But don’t take my word for it. Why don’t you go and find a pen and paper right now and give it a try?
UK/MED/19/0098 May 2019