When I was going through intensive treatment for my eating disorder, we had one group session where we discussed the powerful impacts of writing letters to ourselves or the people in our lives. These types of letters can be a great way to remember all the positive aspects of your life, express gratitude, or release emotions that may be causing you distress. Writing letters can be an incredibly effective journaling prompt, since it allows you to express your thoughts and concerns regarding a specific area of your life.
Writing also helps people to organize thoughts and give meaning to experiences. And sometimes when people open up about an event by writing about it, they are more likely to talk with others about it – leading to social support, which can be very helpful in healing.
There are different kinds of letters you can write, depending on what you want to gain from this practice. Here are a few examples:
- Write a letter to yourself. Write down your talents, accomplishments, good qualities, things you enjoy, or anything else that makes you feel good about yourself. Congratulate yourself for making it through difficult times and reflect on how strong you are. Keep this letter in a safe place and look at it whenever you’re feeling down or need a reminder of the amazing things you’ve done or how far you’ve come in your mental health journey.
- Write a letter to a supportive friend or family member. Tell this person how much their love and encouragement has meant to you. You may choose to send the letter to this person, or you may keep it as a reminder that you have people on your side who love and support you.
- Write a letter to someone with whom you have unresolved issues. If a troubled relationship is weighing heavily on your mind, writing an unsent letter to this person may help you sort out your thoughts and feelings in a risk-free way. You can write out your concerns and how you hope to resolve things, which can help you release emotional pain and figure out what you might do for the next step.
- Write a letter to your illness. If you’re frustrated with all the pain your mental illness has caused, you can write a letter to it saying how you will not let it define you. List all the ways you are stronger than your illness and describe the strides you have made in overcoming it. This type of letter is a great motivator for recovery. It can remind you of how powerful and unique you are and that your illness does not constitute your identity.
Have you ever written a letter like this? Did you find it helpful? Did you ever send a letter to someone and if so, how did it work out? We’d love to hear in the Comments section below!