The end of the year is a great opportunity to reflect and look ahead. Writing an old fashioned letter to yourself is a wonderful way to do it. Four reasons to start writing tonight (yes, with a pen, on paper!).
Reason 1: Writing forces you to be in the here and now
In times like these, when we’re glued to screens and keyboards, writing down your thoughts with pen and paper can be a healing experience. Normally, we hurry through life, but the writing forces us to focus. Writing a letter is not business as usual, it demands time and attention. Without a delete button, we reflect more on our choice of words. In fact, it makes us think about what we really want to say.
Reason 2: Written text can bring new perspectives
We’re conditioned to keep up appearances in daily life. From an early age, we’ve learned to suppress impulses and not to react from our primary emotions. If we don’t feel completely safe, we tend to hide things. Writing neutralizes these blockages.
The first sentences can be quite an effort, but once you’ve put these on paper, you’ll notice that you’ll come up with the right words easily. Once you get in the flow, it seems like your pen picks up the emotions in your subconscious automatically. If you read them later, you might be surprised about the insights.
Reason 3: Writing has a healing effect
Everyone who’s ever written an angry letter, will recognize the relief that follows. Even if you haven’t even sent the letter, it feels good to get the monkey off your back. Writing about how we feel, brings some air into a situation. It takes the sharp edges off your emotions and makes it easier to step away from them.
Especially now that the year is ending, it might be a good idea to look back at 2017. Describe the experiences that caused negative emotions for you last year (or still do). You’ll find that it’s easier to let them go after writing about it. Besides, it turns out that people who are able to reflect on unpleasant experiences, are more aware of the possible positive sides of stressful situations – which helps to digest them.
Reason 4: Exercise gratitude
Writing doesn’t just help you to let go of negative feelings, it also helps you to hold on to the positive ones. Scientific research shows that writing down the things we’re grateful for, can contribute to a feeling of happiness. Putting our deep feelings on paper, improves our mood, reduces stress and improves the immune system.
The first lines are the hardest. That’s why you might pick one or more of the following questions and just start writing. You’ll see writing gets easier and easier.
1. What are you proud of?
2. Which experience from 2017 do you hope to remember?
3. Which important life lesson did you learn last year?
4. What are you grateful for?
5. What are you worried about right now?
6. Which goals do you hope to reach next year?
7. Where do you hope to be in five years? And in ten?
8. What do you regret?
9. What does your ideal life look like?
10. Which five people are most important in your life and why?
11. What are your professional goals? And what are your goals in love, spirituality and personal growth?
12. What was your favorite book last year? How did it affect you? Which advice would you want to give your future self?
Photo: Kelly Sikkema