The One Letter Every Person Should Write To Take Control Of Their Lives

Written by Jeanette Schneider

Photo by Andrey Pavlov / Stocksy

"You will spend most of your life believing you are unlovable."

That was the first sentence of my love letter to my younger self. My chest became heavy as the words appeared on the screen. It hurt. Not a little but the shocking, sit-back-and-suck-your-breath-in kind of hurt. I pulled my fingers away from the keys, but I couldn't turn away. It was the first time I consciously recognized how profoundly I'd disconnected from myself.

It was also the first glimmer of a brand-new life.

I spent time with my words. I rolled them around in my fingers and allowed myself to reflect on events that may have caused this belief that I was unlovable. I emailed them to a few friends who knew about my "Love Letters" project. "Look what I found," I said. "I had no idea."

"Love Letters" was accidental. I'd convinced a few of my more successful girlfriends to share things they wish they'd known when they were girls in the context of a love letter to their younger selves. I planned to post them on my blog as a form of inspiration and viral mentorship, but before long I began receiving texts and emails that began with, "That was extremely powerful," or "That was therapy I wasn't expecting."

I started to poke at the conversations, pull out insights, and interview women on their experiences and the visualization exercises that helped them uncover the utterances of their soul. They were unlocking themselves, forgiving their pasts, and creating new paradigms for themselves and those they influenced, yet I was still asking questions, hesitant to do the work myself. I had convinced myself I was a curator but had yet to claim my own words. It wasn't until one of the writers, Amy Jo Martin, challenged me on camera that I had to dig into my own resistance and make good on what I was preaching.

It wasn’t until those words hit the page that I realized I had allowed small moments, hurtful words, and painful memories from my childhood to create the soundtrack by which I would live my most sacred relationships.

We live lives that have been curated for us and don't often realize the long-lasting effects an unreviewed life has on us and those we love. We are gifted our programming through social, generational, and cultural messages. I recognized that the belief that I was unlovable was due to a series of events and unfortunately crafted words by my alcoholic mother when she was at her worst. She never told me I was unlovable, but she created the moments that built an image of myself that was untrue. I took those beliefs and held them close as I entered each abusive relationship and questionable friendship that was offered. I believed I was only worth what was made available to me, and in my brokenness, I offered a sounding board and punching bag for the scars of others to play out their own pain.

It wasn't until those startling words hit the page that I realized I had allowed small moments, hurtful words, and painful memories from my childhood to create the soundtrack by which I would live my most sacred relationships.

I've often been asked if the recognition of my messaging created an immediate knowledge of my lovability. Did the pure awareness of my messaging set me back to right? I wish I could say it had, but our messaging is so layered. What it did offer me was a map and permission to go within.

I had been divorced for several years at the point I wrote my letter. I dated casually, would have preferred a relationship, but had chosen emotionally unavailable men time and again. My new awareness allowed me to see them clearly. To hear their words. To recognize my value and how I was diminishing myself in an effort to be loved by them. I went so far as to read an article about "waiting out" emotionally unavailable men ("If you act like you don't care, they'll come around," it told me). I kept convincing myself that I wanted what they offered, but it was only to stay in a dance with them, hoping at some point someone would finally see me and make a choice. I wanted someone to choose me, but I'd never truly chosen myself. In those muddled, unavailable relationships, I had disavowed all power and given it solely to the other.

With this clear understanding of my lifelong belief and where it originated, I had the opportunity to reframe my messaging. I stepped into my worth and value easily. I cut loose my stray cats—the old casual relationships that had been winding their way around my legs for years. I began dating purposely. I asked the right questions to make sure our values were aligned. I was also very clear that I didn't expect every man to be my "Mr. Right" but that I'd like to be in a healthy, happy, mindful relationship. I remained unattached to the outcome, knowing that I had the power to select my partner, and a beautiful thing happened. Over the course of a year of purposeful dating, I was courted by three men. The first two lasted for a few months each; however, it took almost a month for anyone to attempt a first kiss. I had made my value clear, and they each showed me enormous respect. At the end of that year, I met Luis. I fell in love with his kindness, his hustle, and the way he treats me. I haven't looked back. Together we are creating the most mindful and loving relationship I've ever experienced.

Occasionally he whispers in my ear, "You are so lovable."

While I have highlighted my romantic relationships, the insights in my love letter also made clear that my "unlovableness" was also reflected in my friendships and my work environment. I was showing up unworthy in all ways. I would have continued this pattern had I not been challenged to do the hard work and connect with my younger self.

My letter changed my life.

I invite you to dig deep in the work with me and reflect on your younger self.

  • Imagine this younger version of yourself. See them clearly. Are they 5? Are they 8?
  • What do they look like?
  • What are they wearing?
  • Where are they?
  • What emotions come to mind when you see their face?
  • What do they want from you?
  • What do you want to tell them?

The first thing that comes to mind is the right thing.

You will find, over time, that there are many versions of your younger self. You may connect with your 5-year-old self today and then in a few months find that your 17-year-old self needs a reminder of their grit and power. Visit with the younger versions of yourself. Write to them in all their iterations. Release your old stories and rewrite the trajectory of your life. Offer yourself the beauty of forgiveness and the opportunity to step into your power and create your future self.

They're waiting.

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