Why write a letter to your younger self, anyway?
It’s surprisingly cathartic. Much more so than simply thinking about what you wish you’d known.
After getting your letter down on paper (which is even better than on the screen), letter-writers feel clarifying closure about that period of their life. There’s also an intense sense of compassion towards oneself.
I think of this as phenomenon as reclaiming an orphaned part of yourself. Emotional, yes—but a fantastic feeling of being made whole.
Anyone can write a letter to their younger self, pretty much any way they choose. But after working with hundreds of people on letters to their younger selves, I have a few tips that may help.
Write an introduction to your letter. This goes before the Dear Ellyn part. It will set the stage for who you are now and who you were at the time period you are writing to.
Pick a time in your life when something was difficult. When you were struggling.
Don’t advise your younger self on everything you wish you’d known at 25, or 45. Go deep, on one topic or issue, rather than broad.
When writing your letter pretend you are holding your younger self by the shoulders and speaking to her or him. Use “you” and the present tense.
Apart from the supercharged feeling of empowerment you’ll get from accepting this vulnerable younger self, your letter will help others enormously.
First, there’s your wisdom, contained in the message. It may help someone in the throes of a similar situation.
And—just as important—your letter tells a reader that she or he is not alone. When we struggle with something, it feels as though we are the only one facing a particular difficulty. Knowing that others have had their battles and come through the other side is immensely consoling.
SUBMIT YOUR LETTER
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