3 Lessons I’ve Learned From Writing a Letter to Myself
Written by Jick Siriwan, Thailand, originally in Thai
On the last day of 2014, while my church friends and I were gorging on a humongous meal, my dear husband gave us the idea of “writing a letter to your future self”. It intrigued me so much that I decided to give it a go. I wrote myself a letter, indicated when it was to be opened, placed it in a box and said to it, “See you in a year’s time!”
A few weeks ago, as I opened the letter I had put aside exactly one year ago, I realized that I had forgotten what I had written. As I read those plain and simple statements, I felt tears welling up in my eyes.
“So that’s how your past can speak to your present,” I thought. But my biggest takeaway from the exercise was not what I had written on that piece of paper, but what the exercise itself taught me.
It gives you time to listen to your inner voice.
Writing a letter to ourselves is a practical way to help us listen to our inner voice. When I read my own letter, I realized that it was the first time I had heard myself so clearly. Often, we don’t really pay attention to what our heart says. Instead, we listen to well-intentioned advice from others, which can sometimes confuse us, leaving us at a loss of how to think or feel. Writing a letter to myself enabled me to reflect on my life in the past year, and ask myself some hard questions.
You’re the best person to affirm or scold yourself.
When I was writing the letter, I treated the exercise as if I was talking to someone else, and spoke honestly and sincerely. Here’s something I wrote (and read) that struck me in particular:
Hey, how have you been? Have you done what you intended to do? Is this a good year for you? I want you to read this with a cheerful spirit and be proud of what you have done so far. Knowing you, I’m worried that you might not have accomplished what you set out to do. But if you did, congratulations! I’m so proud of you. If not, hang in there. Don’t be disappointed with yourself. Remember that coriander seeds take some time to sprout. And even we don’t see them sprout; it doesn’t mean that the seeds aren’t there. Things are getting there, and God is working in background. Trust in Him and be patient with yourself. Oh, and don’t forget to write down next year’s goals and another letter to me, ok?
I’m the kind of person who unconsciously stresses myself out and feels guilty about unaccomplished goals. After reading my own letter, I was overwhelmed by my past self’s efforts to affirm me. As a result, I started to feel more relaxed. God had used me to remind myself to enjoy life on earth, and to praise Him for all the good things He has done for me.
Asking yourself questions will give you direction.
The most valuable things we can take with us through our lives aren’t things, but lessons we’ve learned. And one way to learn lessons is to ask ourselves questions. These push us to find answers, just like how we are pushed to determine the destination before we start to navigate a route. Writing down our goals in a letter will also remind us why we made a decision to walk that path. As Thai writer Sorakon Adunyanon once wrote: “The question is more important than the answer. Questions serve as a compass. They give you direction. Answers are merely the result of the questions.”
Here’s some questions you could ask yourself:
- What is the goal Jesus has called you to?
- Are you living your life the way you intended?
- How many relationships have you made and are still keeping up with? How have you treasured them?
- What will you be doing in the next five years?
- What are you thankful for and what will you be thankful for?
- What is the first sentence you want to say to your future self?
- What are some past lessons you want to remind your future self?
Are you ready to write a letter to yourself? Try this website, which allows you to do it online; you can even decide the date you want to receive your letter. It’s that easy.
Let’s make this New Year (and future ones) special by sending our love—to our future selves.
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