If I were going to sit right down and write myself a letter…what would I say?
More importantly, if you were to write yourself a letter, what would you say?
When you find yourself troubled by a question that won’t let go, writing can help you gain perspective. Choosing an action, such as writing, can help you gain more effective control of your thoughts and your feelings. Added bonus: you might even come up with an answer to the upsetting question.
What questions might benefit from a little letter-writing therapy?
Perhaps you have a very specific question on your mind, such as, “Who can I trust?” or “What can I do about little Johnny?”
Or maybe you want clarity on broader questions, such as, “How can I manage my responsibilities?” “How can I best be of service?” or even, “What do I want to do when I grow up?”
Writing can be a daunting prospect if you don’t picture yourself as a writer. Perhaps it sounds too intellectual; something other people do, but not you. Maybe you’d feel vulnerable if you write down what you think, hope, and worry about. What would people think?
However, you don’t need to embark on a great literary journey to benefit from writing. Just write yourself a letter.
If writing to yourself sounds too odd, then go about it as if you were writing to someone else. A stranger. But a stranger who happens to have the life experience, the challenges, the worries, and the opportunities that you have.
If you’ve ever said to yourself, “If I were in her shoes, I know what I’d do,” then you know it can be easier to come up with excellent suggestions for someone else’s challenges than your own.
What would you write if this stranger—who is so much like you—asked your advice for their questions and worries?
There are real benefits to writing your suggestions rather than letting them just rattle around in your head. Firstly, it’s not only the well-seasoned among us who forget things. Further, when you write a record of what you’re thinking and doing, you are creating your own personalized tool for maintaining perspective in your life.
Both joy and sadness come and go at different seasons in our lives. In your letters, you will see that you have already overcome challenges that you might have forgotten, (because they’re instantly replaced by new ones.) You can see how your thinking and actions have changed, or not. Perhaps you’ll see how far you’ve come.
If you choose to share, they could also provide valuable perspective for your children or grandchildren. While the details are undoubtedly different, it can be helpful to know that you’ve been there, that you’ve worked through similar challenges to theirs.
Reality therapy emphasizes self-evaluation—we look at what we are doing and ask, “How is that working for me?” Sometimes it’s hard to get a clear answer from ourselves on that question. When you write and evaluate as if you were trying to help a stranger, see what you learn from yourself.
The sentence that inspired this column came from Mental Health and Happiness, a free daily emailing that is consistent with Choice Theory and Reality Therapy. While a short email won’t profoundly change your life (probably), it could be a consistent influence in a positive direction, You can get it yourself from www.mentalhealthandhappiness.com
Do you ever write to yourself? If so, how does it help you?