Unsent Letters Part 1: Letters to your younger self

Our past experiences and decisions shape who we are today. Oftentimes, though, we quarrel with them, thinking we’ve made unforgivable mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes somewhere along the way. It’s human, it’s natural! There are very few mistakes out there that can never be amended. Most of the time, you f*ck up and you learn from it. The real problems start when you’re unable to forgive yourself. That doesn’t just happen automatically when others forgive you – you basically have to accept your own friend request!

But not only our own mistakes can make it hard to be friends with ourselves. If you’re dealing with trauma or grief, you might find yourself wondering if it was somehow your fault, if you could/should have done something differently, etc.

Even if you’re someone who doesn’t have regrets about mistakes you’ve made or if you haven’t gone through trauma, there could still be events in your past, events that might seem minor, but that have complicated your relationship with yourself. Very often, these events are associated with relationships with other people – family members, partners, friends.

Are you friends with yourself?

If you find yourself being very hard on yourself, having harsh inner dialogues or unconscious beliefs like “I’m not good enough”, “I’m stupid”, etc., you might be at war with yourself – maybe without even realizing it. Here are some journal prompts to help you find out how healthy your relationship with yourself is:

  • Are you uncomfortable with thinking about the past? Why?
  • Do you have regrets? About what?
  • Are you talking to yourself like you would to a friend? Write about an example.
  • How important is it to you to get validation from others?
  • Is the feeling of “not being good enough” familiar to you? In what situations does it occur?

You’ve come to the conclusion that your relationship with yourself could need some improvement? Journaling might help! Writing letters to your past self is a powerful method to reflect, see things from a different perspective and start the process of making peace with yourself.

“Dear younger self…”

When can this writing therapy method help?

  • When you’re unable to forgive yourself for something
  • When you’re battling addiction
  • When you’re dealing with trauma
  • When you’ve felt unheard in the past or when you’ve been afraid to speak up
  • When you catch yourself talking down to yourself

How to do it

Grab a pen and a piece of paper or a notebook. Choose a time of the day where you have little to no distractions at all. Make yourself comfortable, maybe with a cup of tea or a candle. Think of a time in your past that springs to your mind right now or that’s on your mind a lot. You can choose that version of yourself to write a letter to. However, it doesn’t have to be that specific. Just figure out if you want to write to the child you once were or to a more recent version of yourself. If there isn’t anything specific you wish to address, you don’t even need to make that decision – just write to your “younger self” and see what happens during the process.

You can just start writing and watch what comes up once you’ve started. Anything goes! If you’re hesitant about free writing though, here are seven journal prompts for you to inspire what your letter could be about:

  • What did your younger self do/think that your current self is uncomfortable with? How did that contribute to where you are now?
  • Is there something you want/need to forgive your younger self for?
  • Is there something that your younger self did that you’re grateful for?
  • What did your younger self do better than your current self?
  • What advice would you give your younger self?
  • What do you know now that you wish you knew back then? Why?
  • Describe your younger self and how different or similar this version is to today’s version of you

Let’s go – get started right now and let me know how it goes!

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