Monday, November 19, 2012

Letter Writing

One of the most powerful tools I've come across for getting out emotions, moving past blocks, and coming up with solutions, is letter writing. No, not email writing, actual letter writing with pen and paper (gasp!). Why? First off, it's something we (most likely) don't do very often. And when we shake things up a little bit, we tend to get different results. For some reason, the act of sitting down and composing a letter, where you have to actually spell things out, where autocorrect doesn't write half of your words for you, where you aren't supposed to make it as short and to the point as possible, tends to help get our brain moving. It can be tough to start, but once you get going, it's amazing to see what shows up on paper, sometimes almost without you realizing it.

Inspired by my creativity project through the book The Artist's Way, I've begun writing letters, both to myself and others. Now here's the thing - my letters to others haven't yet reached them. In fact, most of them probably never will. The reason for this is that when you realize someone else is going to read them, you start thinking about what they'll think, the effects that the letters will have, are they any good, do they make sense, etc. How many times have you gotten frustrated with someone and written an email, text, tweet, status message, and then realized what could happen if you actually sent it and deleted it? We want to get our feelings out, but we're afraid. Sometimes, this is ok. If we're reacting rashly to something because it's in the heat of the moment, or it hits a nerve, or maybe we're having a bad day, censoring ourself in our present state might prevent us from saying something we really don't mean long term that could have serious consequences, depending on the situation. Other times, though,  we've felt a certain way about a situation for quite a while - be it positive or negative - and we're still afraid of saying how we feel. It may be that we're just as afraid of admitting our feelings to ourselves as we are of telling others.

Keeping these feelings and emotions bottled up is, quite simply, blocking us and holding us back. Even if others never hear what we have to say, we need to say it. If nothing else, we need to admit it to ourselves. These aren't always negative emotions. It's possible that we're nervous about expressing a dream we have, or that someone's really touched us but we don't want to sound mushy or silly so we don't express gratitude. Yet that person may need to hear it as much as we need to say it.

Over the next few weeks (once the holiday has passed), I'm going to blog about the letters I've begun writing, and the effect they've had on me. I'm not going to give the personal details, for the reasons mentioned above. But I might give snippets here and there, and I hope that perhaps they inspire you to consider writing some letters of your own, if only to yourself.

Thinking to yourself: "but I failed writing in grammar school, I can't do this!"? Yes, you can. This isn't about creating a well-written letter. Remember, you're most likely the only one who's going to see this, and that's kind of besides the point anyway. Because really, this exercise is about getting out emotions, getting through blocks, and coming up with solutions. If you're thinking "I don't want to get out emotions!" then please grab a pen and paper, because I can practically promise that this exercise will help you more than anyone else.

In the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I truly thank you for reading my blog. To my US readers, have a wonderful holiday. To everyone else, may your week be wonderful, holiday or no! 

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