Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Starting With You

Last week I started a series of blog posts about letter writing, aimed at helping people work through emotions and the personal journeys they've undertaken, whatever thy may be. I'm starting off with letters to ourselves, as I feel that they are quite possibly the most important, and also, they can be written without fear of judgement from others.  Plus, starting with you helps address any internal struggles you might be facing, which is crucial before working on interpersonal situations.

For letter writing exercise number two, it's all about self-forgiveness. We probably all have at least one thing that we (figuratively) beat ourselves up over. It may be something obvious, or it may be something that seems like no big deal to the outside world, but is matters to us. It's said that often times the concerns or struggles we have with others reflect our internal concerns - for instance, the traits and behaviors that bother us in others reflect traits and behaviors that we don't like in ourselves, and things of that nature. So, it seems natural that we need to work on that internal relationship and self-forgiveness first, right?

When preparing for this letter, take a minute to examine what blame or grudge you are holding onto within yourself. The "I should have", "I shouldn't have", "if only I", etc. Look not only at what these mean on the surface, but what underlying behavior, pattern, or struggle they might point to. Are there other related blames that you hold with yourself? You may discover a pattern. If so, consider incorporating these into your letter as well.

Once you have narrowed this down, you're simply going to write a letter to yourself (no, you don't have to mail it) forgiving yourself for this blame or grudge that you hold against you. Let it all out - the reason you feel this blame, how it affects you, and why you hold onto it. Don't judge whatever comes out on the paper, just write it. You can address related behaviors, but don't go on a blaming binge with yourself - it will probably do more harm than good. Be earnest about it the forgiveness. It's important to note that you're not saying "none of this was my fault." Rather, you can fully admit your mistakes, and then say "that's ok, it's forgiven." Think about what lessons you can learn from the behavior or situation, and how letting go of the blame could positively affect your life. How might it affect your relationships with others, your behaviors, even your goals? And then let it go. If you have trouble with this last part, think about it this way - if you wrote this honest and sincere letter to a friend or loved one, wouldn't you hope that all would be forgiven and the relationship could positively move forward? You wouldn't want them clinging to this grudge and holding it over your head indefinitely. Then why should you do that to yourself yourself?

I'm planning on a follow up blog later in the week to discuss insights I glimpsed, challenges I faced, and the positive outcomes from my own personal letter (though as with the last, I will spare the readers the specifics of the letter itself). I'd love to hear your thoughts, and while, as always, I'd never pry into the personal details, any overall insights gained from your letter writing would be happily welcomed! Until later this week, happy writing! 


  1. I think that your pieces about letter writing to yourself as a means of self-discovery are interesting as well as useful. I wonder if it makes a difference whether you do this longhand as a more physical act or if it works the same using a computer. Perhaps its generational - how many people under twenty-five have actually ever written a letter longhand?

    1. Thank you! Two blogs ago, when I kind of introduced the idea of writing letters, I suggested doing it longhand. For some reason I feel this has more impact, at least for me. Maybe this is because it feels more like journaling to me (though a lot of people do this online as well), and therefore I feel like people might be more open with themselves. Also, for me, I feel like my ideas flow more freely when I write longhand. There are no squiggly red lines saying my spelling is off, or the verb tense is wrong, that can distract me from a train of thought or stop an idea that's just about to flow out on paper. But, I think the important thing is writing however one feels most comfortable, since the point of the exercise isn't to create a well-crafted letter but, as you said, self discovery. So ultimately, I think it's up to the person and their preference, as long as they feel that whatever method they choose will let them be the most open.