Letters to the self

Arja Kumar (TheLorian)

When one is feeling stuck, troubled, or confused, it is sometimes difficult to know what to do. We often might not understand why we are feeling a certain way or why we are thinking certain things. One healthy way of alleviating tension is by doing a kind of self-reflection or self-therapy. Writing a letter to oneself is a good way to figure out what is going on in life, what are the feelings and thoughts, or what the aggravators are. 

Writing letters was a very popular thing to do for centuries. Not only was it a popular method of communication, but it also helped people to connect with themselves. Sitting down and taking a pen to paper, one physically and mentally engages themselves in a sort of catharsis. The physical act of writing connects both the brain and the body and helps one to release emotions and thoughts that might have been plaguing them. When one ‘writes something out,’ one makes the mind tangible. This is good for the mind because it is then able to stop ruminating abstractly and instead, have greater peace of mind. 

The contemplation that comes with writing a letter also helps one to actively understand their feelings, work them out, and come to a solution. When we write to ourselves, we can sort through problems and things that productively need work. Usually, we solve most issues in our head or go to another person to talk things out. This may not always be the best choice because it can still confuse us and make us lack true clarity. Most popularly these days, we quickly text someone about our problem and they reply with a one-liner or chunky paragraph, trying to vaguely understand or give us advice. By taking the first step to try to understand and tackle a problem oneself, one gets to the heart of the problem more easily and quickly. Letter-writing is also a purifying exercise that helps the mind think from multiple different perspectives. We examine ourselves and explore options in a way that we cannot do with others or simply just up in our headspace. In the end, writing a letter may even give us a great sense of accomplishment and help us become more independent thinkers. 

Writing a letter to oneself can, most importantly, be comforting. Writing a letter to oneself is like talking to oneself. It is thus very beneficial for the mind because it gets one to open up to oneself and know oneself more. Light a candle, play some cozy music, sip some hot tea, and stare out a window while writing it. It can be a ritual one does every Friday to help cleanse the mind from the week. Writing a letter to oneself does not have to be hard. One can write whatever one thinks or feels, even if it is total nonsense. Just go off. Rant. Ramble. Say gibberish. Give the freedom to complain, ache, or express excitement about something. Even scribble, doodle, or draw if need be. The page is a blank, safe space. It is a listening ear, a mirror. Letter-writing is hence a great way to deepen the relationship with oneself. Talk to oneself like it’s a good friend or someone trustworthy. Talking to oneself is just as important, if not more, as talking to others. 

One can even write a special letter to oneself, addressing it to be opened in the future. The letter may reflect growth as a person, an exploration of dreams and goals, say positive affirmations, or just express appreciation and gratitude for the journey so far in life. Looking back at old letters may be transformative and can even help one discover oneself in a new way. With these previous letters, one can either keep the letters in a safe place, trash or burn them, or bury them in a secretive place. What one wants to do to them is totally up to the person at hand. 

There is no limit to the benefits of writing a letter to oneself. It does wonders for the mind, as the act of writing thoughts out of one’s head and onto paper can better one’s life by giving one more clarity, peace, and self-awareness. By writing to oneself, one lets their thoughts and feelings flow naturally, discovering truths about oneself in the process. Try writing a letter to yourself one day, and you might be surprised what you will find.

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