Writing offers you fresh insights. Write several pages a day or jot down a paragraph every Sunday morning. It will teach you to be the uncensored version of yourself. Try out this writing exercise, it’s fun to do, I promise.
Your house key breaks after you’ve walked home in the pouring rain, a colleague calls to say you forgot to send that important email. Plus, you’ve been feeling unwell for weeks. But then you come home, you look down at your soaking sneakers, and you see a letter on the doormat. A letter for you, written last year by you. It’s a love letter. “If you only knew how beautiful and kind you are, how brightly your eyes shine, how you have the biggest heart,” the letter says. And: “What moves me most is that you’re so energetic and that you love looking after people…”
Writing is a way to get to know yourself better and to gain more insight into yourself and your relationships with others. It can clarify how your life events are linked, it can help you remember pure thoughts you have that often get lost in your Facebook presentation of yourself. Writing can be used as a healing instrument, even if it’s just a diary. If you want more than a diary, or if you want to give your diary a nice boost, there are loads of methods, courses, books, exercises and therapies to help you. Writing yourself a love letter is one of them.
Hetty Clarisse, a writing and meditation instructor, uses it regularly in her workshops because it’s a great way to outsmart your fears and your feelings of inferiority. “One of the things you have to do before you write the actual letter is describe the qualities of a beloved person,” says Clarisse. “You can only see those qualities if you have them yourself, and describing them in someone else makes you look at yourself in a different, more loving light.” Somehow the letter will always arrive when you can really use it. If you do this exercise with one other person, they will mail it at exactly the right moment.
Reading out loud what you’ve written is an important part of a lot of writing methods. Obviously your letter is private, so everyone promises beforehand not to be judgmental. A discussion about the text is not the idea; it will always be the writer’s personal possession. And yet reading it out loud has a great effect. Sometimes you’re dry-eyed while you write, but reading it unleashes all kinds of emotions. When you voice the words they suddenly have a much bigger impact on you. Another nice thing is that it makes you feel connected to the others. It’s not just the writer who feels comforted, but the listeners too. It’s comforting to know that you’re not the only one with an overwhelming sense of loss or loneliness — or joy. Sharing a story or listening to one can be a healing experience.
Here’s what you do:
What were you like when you were little? Picture yourself as a child and write a few short lines on what made you lovable. See yourself through your own eyes, not the eyes of your parents or someone else. What was fun, kooky, funny, stubborn, typical and sweet about you? Write 7 to 10 lines.
Think of someone you especially appreciate. Write a few catchwords and short sentences to explain what it is exactly that you appreciate in them. In what way are they creative, self-willed, attentive, special, loving, innocent, remarkable, sublime, clumsy or cute? Write 7 to 10 lines.
Read out loud to yourself what you’ve written. Can you see the qualities you described in that other person in yourself too? Now write a letter to yourself, as fast as you can, using a whole sheet. It’s important to write fast and most of all to keep writing. Don’t let any sneaky critical voices whisper in your ear. You might want to start with one of the following phrases:
Nobody knows how much . . .
If you only knew . . .
What moves me is . . .
Write for 10 minutes.
Put the date on the letter and stick it in an envelope addressed to yourself. Find someone to mail it to you later, say after a year, or do it yourself. When you get the letter, it will move you and help you.
Want to read more? This article is part of our issue 20, 2020 ‘Take Your Time’.
Text: Bianca Bartels
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