Write a Letter to Yourself

I may or may not have a tendency to overreact at times. I cannot say for sure, but my partner seems to think so. Once, after a disproportionately vehement reaction to something that turned out to be not so dire, I wrote myself a letter. In it, I shared the perspective I had gained on the other side of that overreaction. By providing some context and a 10,000 foot view, and suggesting how certain surrounding circumstances might have contributed to a lack of perspective, I offered myself the wisdom I realized would be helpful for the next time I lost it. I asked my partner to give me this letter when he saw history repeating itself.
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This time-traveling fantasy is not original. Many writers have explored what they would tell their past or future selves, such as the 2006 collection of essays What I Know Now: Letters to my Younger Self, which included contributions from Maya Angelou and Madelaine Albright. The wisdom in this exploration is to wonder aloud what we would say to ourselves in our worst moments when we have come through those circumstances and are stronger for it.
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Perhaps the most powerful aspect of this exercise is simply relaying that no matter how difficult a moment is regarding our body image, no matter how uncomfortable we are feeling, how dire the circumstances seem, how few choices we seem to have, there is another side. This longer-term perspective has the potential to encourage us to stay with our experience even though we are in pain, desperate for relief, wishing the time away. Simply knowing that we do indeed make it to the other side inspires us to feel exactly what is arising and to be with it, expanding into the reaches of our emotional flexibility and deepening our compassion in the process.
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Equally important, though, is the acknowledgement of a wise self who is somehow always there, even if her perspective is sometimes shrouded by confusion. Creating lines of communications between our many “selves” offers us the opportunity to embrace our many-splendored complexity, gradually viewing all aspects of our experience as just pieces of the puzzle.