Writing Love Letters to Oneself

The practice of self-love is something I have long struggled with.

As much I as believe in the concept itself, I feel our society has in many ways lost touch with the wholesome intention and become excessively and adversely self-focused. Surely, we all desire to be seen by others—myself included—but the benefits of self-love are tainted when our practice centers more on what we hope others will see in us rather than what we allow ourselves to see. While an external audience is essential to our journey of self-exploration, self-expression, and ultimately self-acceptance, we lose something critical when our internal audience is secondary.

There is a delicate balance to the practice of self-love—as with most things in life—and we will no doubt spend the rest of our days in constant flux. As part of this practice, I have found that writing love letters to oneself is uniquely grounding, empowering, and inspiring.

The writer of these love letters is the part of us that is both humble and proud, both challenging and nurturing, both knowing and seeking. The writer of these love letters is our inner goddess—the embodiment of self-love in its most radiant and compassionate form. And the intended reader of these love letters is our vulnerable self, which cultivates an intimacy and authenticity that I have yet to find in any other practice. Sometimes it can be powerful to share these love letters with others—even to read them aloud—but they should never be written with the intention of being seen by another.

••• 10 Letter Writing Prompts •••

With the day of love on the horizon, there is no better time to write a love letter to oneself. Here, I have curated a list of letter writing prompts to nudge your process.

  1. I love the way you…
  2. I am grateful to you for…
  3. I value your…
  4. I am proud of you for…
  5. If only you could see…
  6. I believe in your dreams to…
  7. I am captivated by your…
  8. I know you can…
  9. I see beauty in your…
  10. My wish for you…

Now find a comfortable space, put on some ambient music, light an aromatherapy candle, steep some relaxing tea, and write yourself a love letter by hand. Let your thoughts and feelings flow freely onto the page, and set a timer if that is helpful. Consider meditating beforehand to set the tone, and consider keeping the love letter in your handbag or sealing it in an envelope to open later in the year.

Remember, this is about you alone, not anyone else. There is no pressure for it to be glamorous, only a hope for it to be healing and igniting.

6 comments

  1. This post resonates really well with me as I’ve always understood the importance of self-love but haven’t always mastered its execution. First, a question: What are your thoughts on social media affecting self-love?

    Some background: After graduating college and moving on to my first truly independent lifestyle, I found myself not fully comfortable with the solitude, instead seeking “self-love” via the external validation you warn against. To explore my new independent self, I often wrote blogs, posted photos, and left “clever” Facebook commentary to openly express my appreciation of myself. In fact, rather than writing or posting for myself, I wrote with the intention of being seen by others. I did not realize this until a number of years later when friends commented on the lifestyle they perceived me leading. In reality, it was all an image. I’d taken my acceptance of my independence and embraced, as you described, a “tainted” self-love defined by pleasing others. Upon realizing this, I pulled back from social media, adjusted the profiles and did some introspection. I think true self-love can be elusive in this age where we feel the need to gain external validation and approval, and your letter-writing prompts are really well focused to guide people better. Who needs glamorous external validation anyway? The joy of identifying your love of yourself, to yourself, is far more rewarding. I plan to try this as part of my drive to return to journaling. Maybe one day I’ll reflect back on those letters–maybe I’ll let someone read them someday. Or maybe I’ll just enjoy me.

    1. I so appreciate the candor and vulnerability you bring to your comments!

      The other day, I saw a Post Secret submission that read: “I’ll never live up to the person I pretend to be on Facebook.” Maybe you saw it too, since I know you are a fan of them. This statement isn’t something I haven’t heard before, but it was a reminder of our shared quest to find and express true self-love amidst our digitally drenched world.

      Something I have come to realize more generally about life is that everything is constantly moving and evolving and therefore constantly requires our commitment to awareness and growth. Long before the digital age, humans set out to find quick and permanent fixes, but the reality seems to be that none exist. As our circumstances and environment changes, we too must change. To me, this is part of being alive, and to automate or resolve anything completely would be its own kind of death.

      That said, I believe the quest for true self-love is a sort of meditation, a practice in observation (and expression) of our authentic selves and a practice in bringing ourselves back into focus when we lose touch.

      But, to your point, social media makes this journey that much easier and harder, and you are not alone in your experience of seeking self-love via external validation. I quit Facebook five times (yes, it’s true), and I told myself that my last breakup was final. That was almost two years ago. Now I focus on Instagram—both personally and professionally—and I find it much easier (though still challenging) to keep my ego in check.

      Something I love about social media—particularly as an introvert who loves to write and create—is the space it provides for connection and commiseration with like-minded souls from all over the world. This can empower our love of self in a way that is authentic and vulnerable, no doubt. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the community we yearn for locally (I have been here), but social media can also cause us to forego seeking it locally at all (which isn’t good).

      All that said, it would be absolutist to trash the benefits of social media due to its detriments, but I do think our society is reaching its breaking point, and you are right to question how we can make it a more mindful experience.

      So how do we find the balance? To be honest, I haven’t yet figured it out. But I think creating boundaries and check-ins helps keep us on the right path, while still allowing ourselves to enjoy the benefits and to remain relevant in the modern age.

      You know, I think you might have inspired a blog post! I have so many thoughts on your question / comment, but I need to organize them a bit more to share. If you have any other questions on the topic, let me know and I’ll definitely consider them as I write the post.

      1. Thank you! Part of my transformation to appear to others the way I believe myself to be is rooted in candor and, at times, unfiltered honesty. Vulnerability is a slightly newer addition, but I find it liberating to give of myself, hopefully setting an example for others to practice openness. I did see that Post Secret submission the other day. (I actually keep the site pinned to a tab on my work computer so that I can read the Sunday posts each Monday when I get to work!) That particular submission resonated with me, especially given this recent conversation with you.

        I commend you for your “breakup” with Facebook. (We’re headed off on a short tangent–sorry to hijack the blog!) Although I never deleted or deactivated the account, circumstances several years ago made me realize that much of the “communication” I participated in was frivolous and granted no cultivation of true friendships or meaningful conversation, so I ceased regular use of the site. These days, I justify its continued existence in my life solely for reaching out to relatives and a select few friends who have chosen no other ways for communicating digitally. How did you feel about losing contact with people when deactivating the account? I had a conversation with your sister about this, actually. I guess the question I haven’t answered yet is whether I actually “need” access to all those people I don’t even talk to anyway…”What if I ‘need’ to reach out to him/her?” I probably don’t need to.

        Back to your post! Here are a couple questions:

        You said you’re an introvert. Now that you have the blog, and based on comments from other readers, it appears you’re indeed connected with like-minded individuals. Do you feel that your “local” interaction has suffered, grown, or remained unchanged so far?

        Regarding self-love in the digital age, how do you think kids that grow up seeing digital communication as the first line of expression will present self-love as they enter adulthood? Do you believe their capacity to observe the self will be stunted by the ever moving and rapidly updating digital version of themselves?

        1. You are so right that vulnerability is liberating! As a perfectionist, I struggle with being vulnerable, but I’m getting better with time. It always feels good, too, when my vulnerability allows someone else the comfort to be vulnerable in return.

          We seem to have a similar battle with Facebook, and I, too, wondered how I’d be able to stay in touch with loved ones and travel acquaintances who primarily socialize and express themselves on Facebook. Other lost benefits included the community groups and events feature. But I knew the detriments Facebook was bringing to my life outweighed the benefits, and it was more important for me to live a slow, mindful, and sometimes less efficient life than to be so connected to everything and everyone. Before I left Facebook, I actually saved a few of my significant posts, one of which was why I was leaving. It seems appropriate to share here.

          •••

          Dear friends:

          The time has finally come. I’ve decided to leave Facebook and I’d like to share my thoughts in this space one last time. Since 2006, I’ve ditched and rejoined Facebook four times. I told myself that if I did it a fifth time, I wasn’t allowed to come back.

          While there are many benefits to social media and technology, the noise has become too much for me and I’ve decided to detox my entire digital life. I’m even closing unused online accounts, purging photos, and striving to read more in print (blogs are a weakness).

          Some might say I must be getting old, but I choose to think I’m simply getting old enough to know what my limitations and desires are.

          One of my favorite things about Facebook is that it has allowed me to keep in touch with those I’ve met on my travels. But the reality is that leaving Facebook will not hinder the most meaningful of those relationships, as I will still be able to connect through other means.

          In the summer of 2015, I temporarily left Facebook before setting out on a two-month adventure across the US. I felt so incredibly present and at peace during those travels that I forgot to rejoin Facebook for months after returning. I want to feel that mindfulness and freedom again.

          And sadly, the ubiquitous negativity on Facebook has also exhausted my spirit. I want to love people and all good things, while at the same time striving for a better world through positivity and empowerment. But logging onto Facebook creates more pain than pleasure these days, so it is finally time to let it go.

          If you’d like to stay in touch, you can connect with me via Instagram (@goodallcreative) or email (goodallcreative@gmail.com).

          ❤️ Jessica

          •••

          As for your other questions, I’ve interestingly found that having a blog inspires me to be more active in the community, even as an introvert. In a way, it gives me direction and motivation to reach out and build my community, both through my blog but also in the real world. For I want my blog to simply be a digital reflection of the tangible.

          As for youth and the impacts of self-love in the digital age, I will have to ponder and organize my thoughts a bit more and will include them in a future post. It is undoubtedly complicated, and I certainly wish to find the balance in remaining relevant in the world but also grounded in what truly matters.

          1. It’s funny you saved some of your posts before shutting down your Facebook; I did the same when I finally deleted my MySpace (uh oh, I’m dating myself!). Do you think you’ve actually lost anything by no longer being connected to the group/event pages? I’ve never actually used those features much. I have a sense that if I cut all ties with Facebook my fear of not being able to connect would be largely unfounded. I can’t be friends with everyone, and to think that I could try is actually pretty overwhelming. I’ll continue the debate about whether to completely shut it down.

            You made several really salient points in your Facebook farewell:

            – The digital noise

            – Detaching from Facebook doesn’t hinder the purest relationships

            – Present and at peace when not competing for “feed” time

            – Negativity on the feed

            I think the sentiments you highlighted echo across every Facebook user’s mind, but many choose to endure, and even participate in, the negativity and noise for fear of being different. Although my profile still exists, I never log in to mindlessly scroll through the feed. Instead, I use it for rapid outreach to certain people and then log out as quickly as I logged in. There really is a great deal of emotionally charged opinion without logical foundation. Debate is reduced to opinionated quibbling. I can find genuine conversation in so many other ways. So far, my very limited use of the medium has worked out, but the feeling that I should just cut ties completely still lingers in the back of my mind.

            I’m looking forward to your future thoughts on social/digital/instantaneous media as it pertains to modern youth. 🙂

          2. I think when we put our authentic selves out into the world of social media, there are definitely bits worth culling as keepsakes. Also, I remember using MySpace my first couple years of college, so you’re in like company. 😉

            While I didn’t make much use of the events feature at the time, I definitely participated in groups. But given my highly-sensitive personality, the groups often became overwhelming for me. I am someone who needs to focus on one thing at a time, who needs to understand comprehensively, who needs to engage wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, the convenient, immediate, and superficial nature of Facebook did not create for a digital community that I could feel at peace in. Luckily, I have found that my introvert self is satisfied with the community I am able to create through my blog, through being involved in meaningful ways, and through connecting with loved ones and strangers one-on-one or in small groups.

            Interestingly, several of my Facebook friends commended me for leaving and expressed their own desire to do the same. But like you—and like me even—they were stuck in the trap of knowledge that everyone else is on Facebook. To me, it is an extension of FOMO, and I never want my life to be ruled by the fear of not doing, seeing, experiencing, or having. Rather, I want my life to be fueled by digger deeper into all that is before me and being grateful for the opportunities I am able to develop with mindfulness and intention. Maybe this is easier for me than others. After all, I’m an introvert and, even though I crave social interaction, I can probably go far too long with little more than my own company, my imagination, and the adventures of the written word or creative expression. Nourishing foods, deep slumbers, and all those other healthy essentials are good too. 🙂

            All of that is from a personal perspective, though. And I must share that my battle against Facebook is more challenging with it comes to building my blog and future business. For example, Facebook now owns Instagram and I must have a Facebook account and business page in order to have an Instagram business account, which allows various beneficial features not available to personal accounts. For now, I am holding out, but there may come a time when the best thing for my vision is to succumb to Facebook for professional purposes only.

            Did you know you can use Facebook Messenger without having a Facebook account? Maybe this will help you reap the benefits you seek while also parting ways with the main platform. I would also highly recommend deactivating your account for 30+ days to see how it feels and to give you a realistic idea of just how much you need or don’t need it to maintain relationships.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *