ONE WONDERFULLY EFFECTIVE JOURNALING TECHNIQUE is to write a letter to a younger version of yourself. The letter can be to yourself at a specific age or just the general “younger” you. Following is an example of such a letter written by a woman to herself at the age of fourteen and, below that, questions for discussion about what this technique offers the journal writer.
A Letter From One Woman to Her Younger Self
|Dear Fourteen-Year-Old Me,
I am writing to you from the future, a distance of time and space that offers a great deal of perspective on our life. I hope you don’t mind me reaching out to you in this way. I know it’s rather unusual and maybe even a bit spooky. But I’d like to share some wisdom I’ve learned with you, and I hope that by offering some backward-looking perspective I might be able to help you live a happier, more purposeful, more self-assured life. If only you will put aside your natural disbelief in this moment and consider the words I am about to say.
I see you there, sitting on the grass in the park writing poetry for hours. No matter what, please don’t stop. At some point you will judge your poetry as too amateurish and too sentimental, and you will be right. But don’t get discouraged or put aside your writing, even for a short time. Every moment you spend writing is a moment in which you get closer to the core of who you are and why you came to this earth. Every moment you write, you are honing your craft. Giving up on it because it’s “not good enough” will only delay the inevitable.
You are also beginning to navigate the confusing and often treacherous waters of relationships with boys, with young men. And my heart goes out to you, because I know how hurt you feel when they reject you for who you are: smart, creative, loud, and filled with life. They want to squash you, fold you like a piece of origami into a shape they can control. It is only because they are afraid of you that they do this. If you want to be happy, hang onto these three ideas.
Finally, and the main thing I really want to say is, trust your intuition. You have a strong and true inner voice. Trusting in yourself is your life’s biggest challenge. So if you take away anything from me at all, I hope it’s to know that you are perfect, just the way you are. Set aside the criticisms and belittlements of others and blaze your own trail through life. You have what it takes.
Love, Yourself (the elder)
Questions for discussion (use the comment area below to respond)
- What does a letter like this reveal about the writer as she looks back on life? Another way of putting this question is: What can she (the writer) learn about herself through this exercise?
- How would writing to her future self be different in nature and quality?
- If you were to write to your younger self, at what age would you choose to write to yourself?
Try it yourself — The Full Exercise
- Think back to a time in your life when you could have used advice from a wiser you.
- Before writing, take a moment to close your eyes, breathe deeply, and bring yourself back, back in memory to that time in your life, re-experiencing the event, emotions, and thoughts of that time.
- Think about what you have learned about yourself and life since then.
- Write your letter.
- Wait a day or two, then read your letter with fresh eyes. What do you notice? What emotions come up for you? What might you change in your life today as a result of what you wrote? Take a few minutes to journal your honest responses.
- Come back her and share a little about your experience. (Let’s learn together.)