I just recently opened a letter to myself that I written at the age of 22. That is now over 20 years. I did not expect to wait so long to open it but I never felt ready. At 22, I was caught up in a vicious food cycle that had basically taken over my life. I remember age 22 being a very tough time in my life; a time of feeling very unworthy and incomplete. I was open to change; I desired change. It’s hard to believe how a simple exercise would truly impact my life.
It was actually one of my professors who had given the students in my class an assignment to complete. He said,” Write a future letter to yourself and while you are writing think about the person you want to become. Take the opportunity to become your own Coach; giving yourself some good needed advice. Life is about improving, growing, and never accepting just what is. And remember to write this letter in the spirit of love!”
We were told to write the letter and put it away for safe keeping until we were READY to open it. He did not give us a due date or specific time; since he noted that the RIGHT time will be different for each and every person in the class.
I am positive that most of my former classmates had already opened their letters. To be honest, when I wrote the letter all those years ago, in my mind, I doubted that I would ever have the courage to open it. However, I am happy I waited and happy I opened it. I have been through a lot but I have become a strong, confident, healthy, mindful human being. The letter is a symbol of growth that can be easily broken down into several key nuggets that I would like to share.
My 22 year old self never felt good enough. I wanted to feel good enough. My feelings of unworthiness plagued my life. I wanted to be disciplined and in control of my self-defeating thoughts and actions. I wanted to perform, to be free, to be more in control, and to ultimately feel like a success. I continuously felt a struggle to meet the standards of what I thought a successful, productive individual should be. It was not really about other people’s opinions but rather about this inner fight and conflict about who I was and who I thought I could be! My unhealthy obsession with food made me feel incredibly unsuccessful, abnormal, and unworthy. I often felt disconnected from myself; a stranger in my own body.
In my letter, I wrote, “Success is based on personal perception and that what others think is not really that important. I will challenge myself to be the best I can be because I am worth it!”
A desire for CONTROL
My younger self did not feel in control of her actions and behaviors. I felt that food had power over me. In my letter I wrote about feeling “fearless” and feeling empowered. I wrote, “I will have the strength and intelligence to win. The fight will come to an end and I will reign as Queen. I will learn about discipline, will-power, self-control, and whatever it takes to be the one in control. “
A desire for SELF-ACCEPTANCE AND SELF-LOVE
It is obvious that even though I was young, an age that many would consider still a baby; it is obvious that I had wisdom enough to know that if I could not learn to love myself, how would I ever be open enough to love others? I wrote, “You will be around others, you will love others but most of all, you will love yourself”. You will love yourself enough to nourish your body with good food…. without worry”.
A desire to JUST BE ….ME!
In the letter I wrote about the desire to just be me; to just show up and BE ENOUGH. I wanted to achieve personal greatness but without all the “shoulds, coulds, and musts” I often attached to it.
The final paragraph stated,
“Dear Isabelle, I see in your eyes, you bravely battled and won! I told you Isabelle that you would win this battle. I knew you had all of the resources within you. You overcame darkness. You battled your fears. You reign as Queen. Many times you almost gave up… but didn’t. Because you knew there is no easy way out when you want it the most, you dealt with it and that kept you going. You used to ask yourself, “What is wrong with me?” It’s been a long time because in fact…nothing was! I have so admired your stamina, and your strength in coming face to face with your disease and your self-defeating thoughts. You realized that your recovery meant being better to you and knowing that you were so worth it. You decided not to let others determine your happiness or run your life. You build a strong and supportive community with your people; and worked daily on eliminating unnecessary clutter from your life and your mind. Finally, you are opening this letter because you are ready; a successful and mighty trailblazer who does not let anything stand in her way!
Continue to live the life you were meant to live. You can do anything!”
Have you ever considered writing a letter to your future self? Why not give it a try? Here are some questions you may want to think about:
- What advice would you give to your future self?
- What are some fears/obstacles/challenges currently holding you back from fulfilling your dreams?
- What goals do you aspire to fulfill?
- What matters to you the most?
- What are your strengths?
- What do you appreciate about yourself? What do others appreciate about you?
- How do you treat yourself and how could you improve on that relationship?
- What truly makes you happy and what will contribute to making your life happy as well as meaningful?
- If you had the opportunity to have a coffee or tea date with your future self how would that date leave you inspired and rejuvenated?
- What do you admire in yourself?
- What would your personal Ted Talk be about?
You can write a letter, similar to the exercise my professor gave to me, over 20 years ago. You can set a date or leave it open. With the power of the internet, you can even write it and get it automatically sent back to you on a given future date. Check out http://www.futureme.org
We are powerful and complex human beings. We can learn so much from ourselves. So much of my letter came true. I am a completely different person today; no longer battling with food, with life, and most of all, with myself.
In reality, who knows you better than you know yourself? The exercise can be empowering and will remind you just how strong, courageous, and hopeful you can be. There is always time to make a fresh start. This is a gift and when you do open the letter, like me, you will be moved and you will value, appreciate and be proud of the person who wrote that letter! I am also thankful and very grateful to my professor. In one simple assignment, he assigned me to be, Navigator of Isabelle’s ship.
Isabelle is a Food Habit Modifier and Food Relationship Expert. Through the MindFoodProject, she takes a totally unique mind-based approach to helping individuals achieve their weight loss goals. The project originated because of her own journey overcoming what she calls “her food challenge” and from a genuine desire to help people to improve their relationship with food and life. She has spent nearly 3 decades studying and researching psychology, wellness, goal setting and achievement, neuro-linguistic programming, discipline and personal motivation, stress management, excitement, fitness and human behavior, and most importantly…the power of the brain.