Unsent Letters Part 3: Letters to a living person

Okay, you guys, we are at the end of our little article series about unsent letters in therapeutic writing, and this one is a little tricky. In our mini-series, we have covered letters to a younger version of yourself and to people who have passed away. In this last part of the series, I want to talk about writing letters to people who are alive and well. So why is this tricky? First, let’s discuss why this writing technique is worth a try. Why should you write letters to living persons without sending them, and how can it help you?

There are people in our lives that intimidate us. A boss, a crush, a dominant mother… even if you are a person who doesn’t usually find it difficult to stand up for yourself, you might feel more reserved around certain people. When we have relationships – with family members, work colleagues, a partner, or friends – where we feel like we need to hold back what we are really thinking, that will result in frustration and resentment sooner or later. However, if you really cannot speak openly or you think you cannot, spilling it all on paper could lift some weight off your shoulders.

Here are some situations where you might consider writing a letter without sending it as a form of therapeutic writing:

  • You have a rude boss that terrorizes you, but you fear you might get even more problems at work if you spoke up
  • A family member or your partner annoys you, but you don’t want to poison the atmosphere at home
  • You feel like there are still some things left unsaid between you and a person you have lost touch with
  • You miss someone
  • Your feelings for someone have grown deeper and you don’t dare to tell them (yet)

The perks

  • You get to be brutally honest, because no one is going to read it
  • You avoid conflict
  • You will be calmer, because you got everything off your chest

Just imagine: Next time your boss is being rude, you can stay calm, knowing that you can vent to your journal later. When you try to talk someone but you are always interrupted, you can get it all out later on.

Here is the tricky part

In part 1 of this series, we have covered unsent letters to a younger version of yourself – the letter is meant for your own eyes.
In part 2, we have talked about unsent letters to someone who has passed away – the person this letter is meant for will not have the chance to read it.
This part is about unsent letters to a person who is alive. Someone other than yourself. When you decide to use this technique of therapeutic writing and pour everything onto paper, without holding back, you might feel so relieved and empowered that you find yourself thinking “This was awesome, but now I want the person to actually read it!”. Pause before you send that letter! Oftentimes, it might be good to let the other person know how you really feel, in other cases, though, it can be counterproductive. Sleep over it, and when you still feel like you want to send the letter, it could be a good idea to follow your intuition. Read it again, though, and see if you might want to take the edge off a little bit – you don’t want to burn any bridges.

Use this method of therapeutic writing whenever you feel like it. Of course, you can take plenty of time for it, make yourself comfortable, but when you’ve just left the office fuming or just slammed the door shut behind your partner after you two had a fight, you can also get started right away. This method has the huge advantage that you can really let off steam, without having to fear that you might hurt your counterpart. Just let it all out – the pain, the rage, the grief, whatever it is that you’re feeling. Don’t pay attention to your style, your wording or your handwriting, because nobody will read what you’re writing. Try not to put the pen down until you’re finished. You’re having a hard time getting started? Then use the following journal prompts!

7 Journal Prompts to inspire your letter

  • Once you’ve picked a person to write to: Why did you pick this specific person?
  • How do you feel about this person?
  • How do you act when you are around this person?
  • Do you feel like you can talk openly to this person? Why? Why not?
  • What would you like to tell this person? Why?
  • What might be different if this person knew what you are thinking or how you are feeling about them?
  • In what way would your relationship change?

We’re at the end of the “Unsent Letters” mini series! Read the previous parts here, if you haven’t already.

Have you tried one of the methods? Let me know!

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