Recently, it struck me that this is exactly what I need when the going gets tough! How about you?
It's easy to fall into unhelpful habitual thought patterns when assailed by troubled emotions, difficult people, challenging circumstances, or a flare of ill health.
We each have our own well-worn ruts that we return to whether they be anger, impatience, hopelessness, fear, depression, blame, a feeling of victimization or any other one. Indeed, we tend to be quite predicable! However, with practice, it is possible to gradually transform these patterns and become a new you.
Writing an encouraging letter to myself and keeping it close at hand helps to wake me up and make a shift when trying situations occur. You might like to experiment with this too.
This special note to yourself can placed in a journal, posted in a prominent place, put into a sticky on your computer desktop, or situated anywhere easily accessible. The 'letter' can actually take any form from a full blown epistle to a phrase with a bullet point list, a poem, a photo, or a comic. Choose any format that meets your fancy.
The main point is that you know yourself better than anyone else. You know what is likely to irk you, get you down, or rev you up and what your typical reactions will to it be. In essence, the letter is your heart advice to yourself on how to work with difficulties when they arise.
Tips on Writing a Letter to Yourself
Use a gentle and loving tone if you tend to be harsh or judgmental with yourself. A brisk, fresh, or humorous tone can also work if you have a strong personality. It all depends on what typically helps you.
Start with an inventory of your good qualities, the ones which seem to get easily lost in the fray. Are you normally kind and compassionate? Are you generally cool as a cucumber? Are confidence and determination valued traits? Don't be shy or overly humble. When life is rough we need to remember our goodness.
Then enumerate whatever personal advice has helped you turn the tide in the past. For example:
- This is just a negative pattern. It's not the real me! I can change this.
- I'm not alone. Everyone has problematic encounters [insert emotion or circumstance: suffering, grief, trauma, tragedy...] It will be okay. This too shall pass.
- What's really eating me? Is there something positive I can do about it?
- These are the people I like to call upon for help [enumerate].
- This anger [insert any emotion] is only harming me. If I give myself some space, I'll find a more constructive way to deal with this problem.
- I know from experience that it's best not to respond to this [insert call, criticism, attack...] right away. It's better to let it settle for both of us and approach it later from a calmer state.
- Taking a walk, watching a movie, going to the gym [insert the activity of choice] always makes me feel better.
- This would help me to laugh, relax, let go [insert troubling state] right now.
- Putting myself in the other person's shoes always gives me perspective and helps to bring a new perspective. It often helps me see a better solution.
- It's not fair, but it is how it is. I can find a way to work with this or decide to leave the situation.
- I always feel hopeless [depressed, insert any emotion] when my pain flares. I will feel better when the flare subsides.
- Feeling emotionally raw, irritated, fatigued [insert state] is an early warning sign of a flare. If I take care of myself now, I will feel better sooner.
- I don't like criticism, but it's only my action being criticized not my true self. I can decide for myself whether the criticism is relevant. This criticism might be hard to hear, but it might help me become a better person.
Consider mailing the letter to yourself. This can have a powerful effect.
There's something about opening the envelope and reading the letter, a few days later, that can create a strong impact and help you to remember to use it in the future.
Put your letter to yourself in an accessible place, where you come across it often. Create a routine of pulling it out as soon as strong emotions threaten to take you away.
Have you ever written a letter to yourself? What would you put in a letter to yourself?
Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always. With love, Sandra