A Letter to My Younger Self – Life Lessons Worth Learning
Have you ever written a note or letter to younger self? I’ve found it to be an effective way to develop greater connection and deeper intimacy with yourself. To forgive yourself for past mistakes. To love yourself unconditionally. Which in turn helps you be more open and compassionate with others.
Let me share my letter to my 16 year-old-self with you.
Dear Younger Self,
When you’re 16, everything seems so intense. One minute you’re in the depths of despair and the next you’re over the moon with happiness. That kind of emotional roller coast can be exhilarating, but it can also be exhausting. So I hope you don’t mind if I share some things I’ve learned over the years. If nothing else, it will help me to put these life lessons down in writing.
As I was saying, emotions can be so hard to handle. And you weren’t born with the tools to manage them. You’re not aware of how far reaching this is yet, but parents and schoolteachers can only teach what they know. And they don’t know everything! (Yes, I know you suspected that already!) Their knowledge can even be faulty!
For example, you were taught that some emotions are bad like anger, pain or selfishness. So you feel like you need to choke these emotions back and hide them from others.
But emotions are neither good nor bad. You feel it, so don’t deny it. It’s important that you acknowledge the way that you feel and process those feelings properly, so you don’t get ‘stuck’ with emotions that don’t serve you.
For example, do you remember how you once adored your father, but how he became so difficult to be around? If you stay stuck in those feelings of alienation, you’ll miss out on a lot of wonderful experiences. Not only with him, but with men friends too. It’s important to continually update your emotions. Extinguish the emotions that are holding you back and nurture the ones that help you be the best you possible.
I know what you’re thinking, “It’s selfish and vain to think so much about yourself.” But that’s not true. We all have to cultivate intimacy with ourselves before we can have intimacy with others. Otherwise, you’ll never know who you really are or feel safe revealing your true self to others. If you don’t accept yourself, the good, bad and ugly, you’ll feel fragmented and conflicted your whole life. I want you to accept all your Parts and feel integrated, whole and at peace with yourself.
You’ll come to realize that people have their reasons for what they do and say. We all have beliefs, values and reasons for doing what we do. Some are just more focused and skilled in their journey through life than others.
By being aware that what people do and say is information about them, you’ll get clues as to the way they think. You can use that to identify their IOS (Internal Operating System. You’ll learn more about this when you study NLP.)
More than anything else I want you to slow down, appreciate each experience and notice everything. Free yourself from expecting a certain outcome, and allow yourself to enjoy every moment of life. Be kind to yourself and to others. Be mindful and be thoughtful.
Living a balanced live is a daily task. I’ll give you an example of what I mean… In 2010, I co-developed with my good friend Nando Raynolds, a wellness program called Life in Balance: The Seven Keys. We did this because we realized that most people we see in our practices lack some basic skills. This seemed to be contributing to their anxiety, depression and general life dissatisfaction.
So we created a simple and methodical way to learn and practice skills like mindfulness, self-care, self-compassion, setting goals etc. The main point of our program is that progress depends on our daily focus and consistency in practicing those skills. The good news is that you never need go it alone. There’s always support available if you’re open to it.
As a final thought, please don’t fall into the trap of focusing on perfection. It’s impossible, so don’t waste the time or energy. Instead strive for competence. That’s what will bring you the greatest satisfaction and joy.
I’m proud of the woman you’ve become. Your desire to learn and grow has made my life rich. Thank you for that.
With all my love and appreciation, Maria
Writing a letter like this allows you to spend time with the person you once were, which can be enlightening, healing, and soul nourishing. I’d love to hear what this exercise reveals to you. Please feel free to share your most valuable life lessons with over on my Facebook page.