So often we tend to take ourselves for granted, we expect too much and then berate ourselves when we fall short. Our own self – someone who has stuck with us all these years, has seen us through our bad times and good, is frequently neglected. How long has it been that you have talked to yourself about your past? Not in a depreciating manner but with words that are kind, loving and forgiving. Have you talked to yourself like you would to a dear friend? Chances are you may have been very critical of the actions of your past self. You probably hold a grudge towards your own self and may not even know it. If you have not done this yet, try writing a letter to yourself. It is a way to reflect on your life so far and have a deep and engaging conversation with your past self, for it is only you who knows who you truly are, who you were in the past and what you are capable of becoming.
We often forget to appreciate where we were in our lives a few years ago and how our experiences have moulded us into who we are today. When we write a letter to ourselves, we get a chance to talk about our past experiences and problems we faced in an honest and revealing manner. Sometimes, when an event occurs in our life that affects us negatively, we have a tendency to not revisit it because it may be too emotionally taxing. This letter to your past self will not only give you an opportunity to actively reflect upon what happened and how we have grown through such experiences but also anything that may have been left unsaid or may have been swept under the rug is brought out and addressed. Nobody understands ourselves better than us and our reasons for acting in a certain manner. It isn’t easy to lie to yourself because you will know if you aren’t being honest. You have known your best and worst.
Writing a letter with the past in focus, helps us to overcome any feelings of regret from the past. If we had failed in an endeavour, it is a chance to heal the hurt we felt then. Remind ourselves that failure is not the opposite of success but a stepping stone towards success. You can take this moment to look within, because you alone can free yourself from any bearing the past may still have on you or give yourself the adulation and validation you may seek so desperately from someone else. There is nothing like saying a kind word to yourself. We ease pain, ameliorate any guilt just by addressing it. By being kind and forgiving to ourselves, we tell our past self, that despite everything, we will always be treated with love. The decisions we made in the past may not have been wise, but we must try to learn from our unpleasant memories and then let go of them. It is a reminder that we have been through a lot and yet have come out victorious.
Though the journey we each embark upon is unique, there is always someone else who is probably in the same phase of life and can learn from what we have experienced. Maybe you wish you worked harder at your musical talent and had pursued that further, something may have held you back from living that dream – your financial condition, family pressure to have a salaried job or fear of failure and rejection. Maybe you were not with the right company growing up and that hampered your college education. In hindsight, you wish you had been more disciplined and focused in college but there is always someone who needs that advice now and who will greatly benefit from your past experience. If you share these moments with the next generation, they won’t have to make the mistakes you wish you hadn’t made.
We often forget that even though we have grown older, all the versions of who we were and are yet to be are housed within us. The person you were ten years ago probably dealt with very tough times and now that you have come out of that phase, maybe it will help that person in you to see your progress report. Tell him/her that you made it through and how that event changed you. That when you were at your lowest and couldn’t see the light, perseverance has brought you far and now you are happy. Maybe we didn’t value companionship enough when we were younger and that has taught us to be more present with the relationships we have now because we know their value.
Starting a letter to yourself is easy. Start without any theme in your mind, you can pick a time or a phase in your life. Ten years ago, who were you? What problems or achievements came your way; just pause and reflect on how it changed you. Or go back to a certain time in your life, like when you were straight out of college, your first job or the struggle of making your first big purchase – buying your first car or house. That wouldn’t have been easy. Pat yourself on the back for that wasn’t a cakewalk but you did it. Congratulate yourself, show gratitude to the grit you showed when you were struggling to find a footing in the market with your first business idea. Doesn’t matter if you failed or succeeded, see how that experience changed you and built you. What we dealt with ten years ago is very different from the problems we deal with today. It is a reminder that what may seem of monstrous proportions right now, may just be a small bump a few years from today.
Writing a letter to your past self lets you be your own best friend. Forgive yourself for any mistakes made, congratulate yourself for the noble acts you displayed that made you a better person. It makes us more grateful for where we are in life and how we reached here. The journey is as important as the destination, if not more. Writing to yourself is a beautiful way to interact with yourself with no judgement. It helps take the load off any baggage that we may have been carrying with us. We all make mistakes, to err is human, we mustn’t forget that but we must also remember to forgive ourselves for any wrongs we couldn’t make right. Take pride in the knowledge that ‘had I not made those mistakes then, maybe I wouldn’t have been the person I am today.’