Practicing self-care is important, but it’s not going to help quite as much if we don’t also practice self-love in the process. Spending time to go a little deeper, to make sure that we’re getting rid of old habits and emotions that no longer serve us, is as important as exercise. Learning to love what makes us unique is as important as eating right. In honor of this, I want you to take time this week to write a letter to yourself.
Don’t use this as a time to beat yourself up for things. Instead, focus on writing nice, kind, loving, and encouraging words. Find the places where you can improve, but also take time to appreciate where you are now. It may feel a little silly at first, but doing this can help us to release negative emotions that we’re harboring, bring more balance into our lives, and help us to find and create our happiest life.
In your letter, I want you to ask yourself these questions, and answer them as honestly as you possibly can in this moment.
What day is it?
Write the date, and even the time of day. If you continue this practice, dating your writing helps you to see what you were dealing with at certain times. It allows you to see how far you’ve come, which is especially helpful on those days when you’re feeling stuck, or like you’re not making any progress towards your goals.
Even if you’re only planning to do this once, still write the date somewhere on the page. This brings your awareness to the present day and time.
What am I dealing with today?
Each day is different, and the challenges that arise are different. What are you specifically dealing with today? Is it work, a family issue, feelings or emotions that are threatening to overwhelm you? Or are you doing something that excites you, making progress towards your dreams, doing something fun, having a relaxing day?
How am I handling it?
How are you feeling about the challenges that you’re facing right now? What emotions are being brought to the surface for you? Are you able to adapt quickly, or do you find yourself resisting change for some reason? Do you feel stuck completely, or like you’re holding your breath waiting to see what’s going to happen?
If you’re doing something fun and exciting, and/or relaxing, are you taking the time to stop and appreciate this fact? Are you able to fully relax, or are you finding yourself feeling guilty for relaxing, like you should be busy doing something?
What are 10 things I’m thankful for? (right now, in your immediate surroundings)
I want you to specifically look in your immediate surroundings (rather than what your thankful for in general) because we all need to learn to be more thankful for what we have now, for the time we have now, and our current circumstances. Even when circumstances are not ideal, or they are completely stressful, we can always find the positive, we always have something to be thankful for, and there is always a bigger picture.
What is one thing that I’m struggling with right now, and what can I do about it?
We all struggle with things from time to time – relationships, losing weight, family drama, our own emotions and feelings, etc. Pick one thing that you’re dealing with right now and look at it from the point of a solution rather than at the problem itself.
Can you actually do anything about it? If you can, then begin doing it. If not, then work to release that struggle so that it doesn’t get stuck and cause you more problems.
What are my 3 best qualities?
These don’t have to be physical, but they can be.
If you can’t even think of any, ask someone else to help get you started. You mom, dad, sister, brother, husband, or best friend; someone who loves you and sees the best in you. OR simply write the words, “I am enough”. Write it over and over again; write it in large letters and draw pictures around it; put it on a post-it note and place it somewhere that you’ll see it. “I am enough” – Simple, yet very powerful words. Continue to write these words and look at them daily, until you can find good qualities within yourself.
This may be really hard for some people to do because we’re often so hard on ourselves; we’re more critical of ourselves that we are of anyone else. This is the biggest reason that I’m asking you to write a letter to yourself. We need to be more diligent about being kind to ourselves, cutting ourselves some slack for our mistakes, and learn to love who we are now.
Most people have more good qualities than they realize, but we tend to focus more on the negative things about ourselves. Only focusing on the negative aspects about ourselves makes us feel bad in general, and then that bad feeling spills over onto others as we go throughout our day. This in turn makes others feel bad and the trend continues. Let’s instead try to promote good feelings, starting with ourselves.
When you allow yourself to see your good qualities, to appreciate your uniqueness, your overall feelings about yourself and the world around you shift. You see more possibility in the world, more creativity. You start to see the world through a more positive lens and this spills over onto those around you. You show others that happiness and positivity is possible. You make people smile when they don’t feel like they can and they begin to see the good in their world as well. This is a much better trend.
What is one thing I need to forgive myself for?
A mistake that you think you made, or that you did make; not doing what you think you should have in a certain situation; doing what you thought was best, but what turned out to be the wrong decision.
If you don’t know, you can’t do better, but when you know better, you can do better.
We shouldn’t beat ourselves up for making a mistake, when we didn’t know how to do something in the first place, but we often do. If you find yourself doing this, try hard to remind yourself of the above by saying: “I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. Now that I know better, I can do better. I forgive myself and choose to move forward.”
Or did you truly mess up?
Were you in a bad mood over something, and you took it out on another person? Were you upset because things weren’t going right and you lashed out at those around you unnecessarily?
If this is the case, go back, admit you let your anger and frustrations spew where you shouldn’t have, and then forgive yourself. We all make mistakes. We all get frustrated and snarky sometimes. The key is in recognizing it, admitting where your actions harmed someone else, forgiving yourself, and moving on.
What are 3 things that I’ve done in the last month that I’m proud of?
Take a moment to celebrate your wins. Chris Shelton has a great blog post about this. The more we can acknowledge and see the progress that we’re making, even in the smallest ways, the more our confidence grows.
If you notice, I’ve asked you to list more of the positive side of yourself and your life, than the things that you feel like are wrong, or out of order.
This is because, we need to be aware of those areas in our lives that need improvement, but not get hung up on them and think that those areas are the only things that define us. We should always be working to improve ourselves, not because we don’t think we’re good enough, but because we want to be a better version of ourselves. Content, but not complacent.
Writing a letter to yourself, and answering these questions, can help you to find these emotions that need to be released and release them. It can help you to replace those emotions with feelings of happiness and love for who you are right here and now.
It’s also a great way to get started if you don’t know how to journal.
Journaling is all about self-reflection, so by writing a letter to yourself at least once a week and answering the questions above each time, you start down the path of learning more about yourself. Then you can take time each day in between to investigate how your day went. What did you enjoy about the day, what were some of the challenges? What were some of the things that made you smile?
If you weren’t able to name 3 good qualities about yourself the first time around, try again each week. Until you can, keep writing “I am Enough” each day. Even if that’s the only thing in your journal for the first little while, write it out each day.
If you’re having a hard time forgiving yourself over something, write that out each day as well, “I forgive myself for …..”.
The more that you do this, the more it will stick. As you release those old emotions that are weighing you down mentally and energetically, you’ll feel lighter and happier. It’s not always an easy process, but it’s one that is worth the effort that you put into it.
As you’re journaling these things out, you may begin to see hints about what you would be happiest doing in your life.
Several people have asked me, “How do I even begin to find what I would be happy doing in life?”. Writing a letter to yourself, opening up about your struggles, releasing what you can’t control, and focusing instead on the good things in your life is a great start. Journaling about these things, to keep up with your progress is a great idea as well.
When we get rid of the “junk” that we’re carrying around with us emotionally, we begin to open up to the possibilities in the world. Our world view broadens and we see that we’re capable of helping others and making their lives better, as well as our own. We see where those lines between what we love to do and how we can be of service to others intersect. Finding that spot is the key to finding happiness in life.
At the end of your letter write the words, “I love you”.
People have such a hard time saying these words to themselves and meaning it. It goes back to the fact that we are more critical of ourselves than we are of anyone else. As your writing these words, pay attention to how you feel. Do you feel that love wash over you, or do you feel unworthy? Does writing those words make you tense up in any way? Do you find yourself sitting up straighter after writing them, or slouching over?
Your response to simply writing these words on a page can tell you a lot about things that need to be released. If your shoulders tense up, or if you can’t seem to write these words at all, explore those feelings and work to release them. Let any emotions that arise come out, and then let them pass on. I’ve seen people literally be brought to tears when they write or say these words to themselves. They don’t feel worthy of love and they never even realized it.
If you do find yourself having a hard time with this, give yourself a break, but don’t give up. Write the words “I love you” and then below them write, “I am enough”.
Take this time to practice self-love. How you write a letter to yourself, how you respond to the questions, depends on how your feeling each day. This is why it’s important to do it more than once.
Become aware of those feelings rather than just shoving them deeper inside. Allow yourself the chance to be a happier version of yourself each day.