This morning when I got up to check my e-mails I got the biggest surprise from my 27-year old SELF. Yes. You read that right. My 27-year old self decided that it would be genius to send a letter into the future which was to be received on my 29th birthday. Did I know it was coming? I guess when I wrote it I should have penciled it into my calendar, but I didn’t; and through time I simply FORGOT.
In as amused as I was with what I had written to myself, I realized how therapeutic it could also be. When I wrote the letter, I made sure I helped myself remember the context that I was in and projected goals into the future, including congratulatory messages for my achievements. The best part? Receiving it after in fact achieving MOST of these things.
The letter itself sounded like a whole other person had written it for me, and that she was wishing me well. She wrote to me with such kind words and reminded me about how well I had done. She was compassionate and forgiving and she assured me that she would do things for me in order to enjoy my 29th birthday. She said that at the time she had written it, she had made a vow to decide on a better future for ME. She was going to work her best and hardest.
Receiving that letter made me realize how my journey through learned self-compassion began long before I had declared it. Perhaps what the letter did for me was it spoke to my subconscious, letting it act in my behalf. Wherein self-compassion is concerned, I notice that for many it becomes the hardest to attain. And that learned self-compassion takes time.
In my own research I find value in self-compassion as a key to managing health behavior, and in order to teach it, I find that learning it myself is a must. I believe in the compassion revolution and the ability to come back to center and place good value on ourselves. I believe even more that where external support may be lacking, we are our greatest cheerleaders, and no one else can do the work for us.
I encourage you to try sending a letter to your future self. If you don’t really know where to start, here are a few things to help you drive the compassion you will need to send yourself the best surprise of a lifetime:
1) First you need the very tool that will make it happen. The portal I used was FUTUREME.ORG :)
2) Begin with the end in mind. Ask yourself how far into the future you would like to project and set a date and time.
3) Put it into context. Begin your letter by talking about who you are as you are composing, and what your concerns are in life. Express a little bit more about yourself and let that future self feel that you once existed. Let that future self feel how different and happy and proud s/he should feel by understanding where the journey began.
4) Think about all the well wishes and positive feedback you have received and OWN IT. I realized in my own letter that prior to writing it, I doubted many things…. All compliments included. I heard people telling me that I had helped and inspired them, but had trouble believing in myself. So I used their feedback to fuel my self-compassion.
5) Take the voice that you would use to speak to a friend whom you truly and genuinely care about. If you can affirm your friends and family and be as forgiving and gentle with them, I propose you do the same with yourself. Bring your strengths into focus and highlight them. I admit it does feel weird at first, but you will thank me for this tip later.
6) Remember that your own love letter is something you will be receiving and make sure to take the time to notice if you will APPRECIATE it in the future. Feel free to throw in a few tips in there, you never know how prophetic your words might be.
7) Dream big but always remain realistic. Think about your 5 year plan and plot your dreams as if they have already been accomplished.
8) End with unconditional LOVE.
Remember, self-compassion begins with self-awareness. And while this monologue may feel weird, I encourage you to give it a shot. I truly hope that you surprise yourself and learn the same things I just learned from my 27-year old self.