When was the last time you wrote a love letter in which you expressed your most intimate thoughts and feelings?
Not that long ago, before instant messaging, emails, and emojis, you had to literally put pen to paper and write down how you felt about the love of your life. You then needed to physically post the letter or find a way to have it delivered to the recipient. People have been doing exactly that for centuries and there is nothing more romantic than sending or receiving a love letter.
When Florentino meets Fermina in the brilliant novel, Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Márquez, it’s love at first sight. Desperate to express his feelings for her, Florentino tries to find a way to give Fermina a love letter. He finally manages to do so, and once she accepts it, hundreds more are written to her over the next fifty years.
Even though the woman of his dreams had married someone else, Florentino never lost hope that one day he and Fermina would be together. That’s the power of love, or, should I say, the power of the written word to someone you love.
Interestingly, both sender and recipient benefit from the whole process: the sender can freely express their deepest emotions and the receiver is enamoured by such heartfelt outpourings. It is a truly romantic gesture that cannot be substituted by smiley faces and quick ‘Luv U 2” texts. It may sound old-fashioned, but the act of expressing love through writing can be very liberating as you pour out your heart.
Despite the brilliant new ways of communicating that the digital world has brought us, using a real pen and paper still holds great value, even if you are only writing to yourself. You may think that sounds silly, but more and more studies have revealed how much good it can do for you.
Assuming that you don’t spend much time reflecting on your value as a person, what better way to give yourself a boost than by writing a love letter to yourself? It’s a way to celebrate the most important relationship you will ever have!
Just in the same way that bonds with other people are nurtured and enriched by endearing words and expressions of affection, writing to yourself can help you to develop more self-love and raise your esteem.
The wellness culture that we live in today focuses a lot on feeling good, and not only physically. Apart from eating healthily and doing exercise, we now know that it’s important to see to our emotional needs. We often neglect to pay attention to these as we are either too busy taking care of others or not in touch with our inner self.
When you are on that hamster wheel, it’s difficult to get a good grasp of why you feel unhappy or to explore aspects of yourself that need attention. There are many ways to reconnect with your true self. Mindfulness, meditation, and journaling are just a few of the things that can help you in this process and they are incredibly useful.
By writing an amorous letter to yourself, you are going one step further: you are affirming your self-worth, expressing an appreciation of who you are, and recognizing the good within you.
As a love quote says, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
It doesn’t have to be a soppy, Valentine’s Day-style message full of clichés, which would seem a bit weird, but it can be loving and compassionate. Usually, we depend on others to sing our praises and tell us how much they care about us. But it’s only when we really believe in ourselves that we can grow, develop and flourish into the women we wish to be.
That’s where reflective writing comes in, which can offer you some great insights and help you to:
- put your thoughts and feeling in order
- express strong emotions
- offer a different perspective
- recognize and celebrate your achievements
- recall fond memories
- explore your strengths
- provide encouragement
- increase well-being
With journaling, you are noting specific things about your thoughts, feelings, and so on. It’s a way to gain clarity and reconnect with yourself, but a love letter is slightly different. Firstly, it will make you feel wonderful, just as it would if it came from a lover, partner, or admirer.
Secondly, you don’t have to aspire to do anything, achieve any specific goal, or follow a restricting line of thought. It’s just an opportunity for you to give yourself love, which we all need.
Words are powerful things and the way we practice self-talk becomes the template for how we see ourselves. If you write down positive words about yourself, the brain readjusts and takes them as truths, which ultimately raises your level of wellness. It sounds almost too good to be true, but there is plenty of very credible research to prove this.
If you can write down some words of endearment, not only are you exercising your brain and flexing its memory muscle, but you are also aiding the process of emotional healing and stress relief. Studies show how it can help when dealing with drug dependency, depression, anxiety, and overcoming traumatic experiences.
It’s even been used in a clinical environment to help women dealing with breast cancer, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, and a range of other medical conditions. So, yes, there is power in words and more than we thought.
The beauty of it all is that it’s easy to write down how you feel and you can do it anytime, anywhere. You don’t need any special equipment or have to be tech-savvy and, as it is for your eyes only, you are free to say whatever you like. When I say writing, it is better to use a pen on paper and not a keyboard if you can avoid it because it doesn’t offer the same benefits.
But let me give you some prompts and examples to help you get off to a great start.
How to Write Yourself A Love Letter
Buy yourself a nice writing notebook or use any loose paper you already have. Invest in a good pen that flows easily. Writing by hand is the best way to create your love letter but if you find it too much of a hassle, you can use the notes app on your smartphone or type it as a document on your laptop/PC. Whichever format you choose, the act of laying out your thoughts and feelings should be a positive experience.
1. Select your spot
Set aside some time during your week to write the love letter. Make sure you won’t be disturbed for however long it takes and choose a place where you feel comfy and relaxed.
It could be at home, in your favorite coffee shop, or at the park — anywhere that allows you to compose your thoughts and put them down. Do it with intention and from the heart, rather than seeing it as a chore.
2. Writing to yourself
You are writing a love letter to yourself, so you should use 3rd person, which means beginning with something like:
Dear (your name),
You are so special to me because…
It may seem strange at first, but once you try it, you will soon see how it helps to reduce anxiety and enables you to deal with your emotions in a calming way. And, it gets you to address yourself with tenderness and empathy; two things that may have been missing from your life until now.
3. Decide on the style
There are different ways to approach the letter and it’s up to you how you go about it. You may just want to pour out onto paper whatever is in your heart at this moment and let it flow naturally. There are no rules to freestyling, as long as you keep it positive, upbeat, and self-appreciative.
If you find that a bit daunting, there are other ways of doing it that are more focused. One of them is to write to your younger, or future self.
Let’s say that you are writing to the younger version of yourself. What kind of things would you like to tell them and what advice would you give them? If you decide to write to your future self, what would you say to give them encouragement, hope, and love?
The whole point of the exercise is to talk about the physical attributes or characteristics that you love about yourself unconditionally. You can talk about your qualities and strong points or mention your achievements and accomplishments. The person who you are describing (i.e., you) deserves praise and acknowledgement, so don’t hold back — go for it!
4. Make a list
You may want to spend some time beforehand making a list of ten things that you love about yourself, or more if you can. These will reflect all of your amazing qualities and your list could look something like this:
- I’m loyal
- I’m great at maths/cooking/swimming
- I’m honest
- I’m creative
- I’m generous
- I’m hard-working
- I’m always punctual
- I’m brave
- I’m trustworthy
- I’m very friendly
What you are doing here is focusing on your strengths and not your weaknesses. You may be used to dragging yourself down but now it’s time to pull yourself up. Whatever you include in your list, don’t undermine each quality or take them for granted.
You are special and need to believe that. Also, by avoiding negative self-talk you are bolstering your overall feeling of being worthy, and this is an essential part of self-love. Just because you are tending to your own needs, it doesn’t mean that you love others any less because your potential for love is infinite — you have more than enough for everyone, including yourself.
Once you have made your list. Take some time to consider how each quality has benefitted you in some way, no matter how small. If you think about it long enough, you will find examples of occasions when being creative, for instance, had a positive effect on your life because it may, for instance, have enabled you to create artworks that decorate your home. Make a note of your reflections in the following way:
- Being loyal has benefitted me because it has earned me the respect of my close friends.
- Being great at maths means that I can sort out my financial matters on my own.
You can continue with your own list and once you have done so, be sure to honor those qualities by finding ways that are personally meaningful to you. For example, by saying something like:
- I will continue to dedicate some time to my creative side because it makes me feel very fulfilled.
- I will remind myself that I am fortunate to be good at maths because not everyone has that skill.
Accepting the parts of you that you don’t love is OK too because everyone has their pet peeves. I may not like the way I am impatient, for example. However, by recognizing that this is a part of who I am, I can work on improving that, which will definitely reduce my stress levels.
There is no point in hating yourself for any of your shortcomings and using them against you. This isn’t a court of law and you aren’t on trial for anything so avoid being judgmental and critical. By simply accepting your weaker traits, you can let go of them and release yourself from the need to be perfect.
To give you a better idea of how to write your love letter, below you will find some examples of my own letters. Yours doesn’t have to be exactly like any of these and, since you are unique, you can express yourself anyway that you like. Just be true to yourself and remember what the intention is here: to nurture your inner self and develop a deeper sense of self-love.
I remember how you had so many hopes and dreams when you were younger, and I know how hard you have worked to achieve some of them. You should be proud of yourself for everything that you have accomplished because it hasn’t been easy. You truly are a courageous woman who is capable of so much and I am very proud to have been right next to you every step of your journey. We’ve gone through many tough times and shared more than a few tears together, but I know that you are deserving of all the happiness there is in the world.
I will always be here for you and hold you close to my heart.
My dear Rebecca,
I wanted to write to you to tell you how much I love you. I may not say those words often enough, and I am sorry for that. Sometimes it seems that I have taken you for granted and not fully appreciated the caring person that you are. You have always shown kindness to others and been considerate of their needs, often ignoring your own along the way. I remember when your sister was sick and you never left her side until she was well again. Your loyalty and dedication are amazing and I know that there have been many times when you have felt lonely and unloved yourself.
You bring so much joy to others with your kindness and deserve to be happy. Let me tell you that you are very special and I love you from the bottom of my heart.
All my love…
I think you get the idea. It can be as long or as short as you like, and you can focus on whatever feels right to you. Use phrases such as:
- Dear (name)…
- I wanted to express my feelings because…
- I love you because…
- You are so special to me because…
- I’m so proud of you because…
- What sets you apart from anyone else is…
- I’m grateful to you for…
- My wish to you is that…
Use words of tenderness and affection when writing this letter and afterwards, you can read it out loud as many times as you want to. Once you are done writing it, you can put your love letter in an envelope if you like and address it to yourself. Place it somewhere safe or private and read it whenever you feel like it.
Cherish it as you would if it was from a lover, and may it be the first of many that you will write to yourself. Alternatively, fold it up and place it under your pillow or lay it on your bedside table so you can read it before you go to sleep at night. Treasure it as the most important letter you have ever received because it is!
The pleasure you will receive from reading your love letter can only be matched by the joy and positivity it will make you feel about yourself.
You can be your own Florentino, declaring your love for the most special person in your life. Many heartfelt love letters have been written throughout history, but none are more beautiful than the one that helps you to love yourself so don’t hold back — start writing today!
(As for Florentino and Fermina, you’ll just have to read the book to find out if all of those passionate love letters spanning more than five decades ever help to bring the couple together in the end!)
If you like the idea of doing something a bit different, why not romance yourself with a love poem instead? Poetry is an exercise that really gets you to focus on the words you use and stretches your imagination.
Because it has some basic rules, poetry can stop you from drifting off the subject, which may happen when writing a letter. It is the language of love and there is nothing as touching as a poignant outpouring of poetic expression. You can choose one of your qualities and focus on that, extolling its virtues as you would of a lover.
It doesn’t have to be up there with Shakespeare or a literary masterpiece and you don’t need to be a great writer to declare self-love in writing.
Keep it as simple as you like but make it compassionate, tender, and accepting. The point is to honor who you are and fall in love with yourself. Learning to do so takes time but with a little help and patience, you will eventually be able to fully embrace yourself and all that you are.
Apart from working on your inner thoughts and feelings, there are many practical ways that you can introduce more self-love into your life.
Being good to yourself should be part of your daily routine and it can become a newfound habit that makes you feel wonderful, so get ready to learn how to do just that. In the meantime, fall in love with yourself by reciting the below affirmation as often as you can and say it as you mean it, straight from the heart!
I love and accept all of me and loving myself comes easily and naturally.