When you read a letter from someone, we are immediately
transferred into their world, experience, and physical
reality. You can capture the same feeling by writing
letters to yourself or about other people in your journal.
Letter writing is the easiest form to use in journaling. On
occasion, you might have already dabbled in writing letters
in your journal.
There are three major benefits to journaling with letters.
First, the experience helps organize the event more clearly
in our mind. Second, letter writing makes it easier to see
cause and affect sequences of our actions. And third,
because of its intimacy, it loosens up our writing style.
Whether you have or haven't experienced letter writing
previously, here are a few ways you can expand the
Step 1: Compile a list of people who you want to write a
letter to. You can do this as a journal entry and mark the
page with a post-it note.
Step 2: Select a letter style, purpose, before you begin
writing. Since there are various types of letter writing
styles, let me present four types that I have found most
helpful and have received the most positive feedback in my
Style 1: Milestone letters. Writing about milestones is
about picking an event that changed your life. Whether the
milestone was minor one or one that turned you around 360
degrees does not matter. Even the smallest ones have truth
to be released. The milestone will have either altered your
way of thinking, change your relationship with yourself or
others, or even shaken your physical or spiritual beingness.
By writing about a milestone, you weed through and determine
what is important in your life. Additionally, the exercise
helps you understand what formed the person you are today
and explains what shifted that path.
Style 2: Release letters. Release letters allow you to vent
and express your deepest emotions. This style frees buried
energy, in turn, allowing you to think and feel through
things, rather than keeping it corked. Please note that
your experience may not always lead to a resolution,
however, it does lead to change. You can't help but clean
house of those leftovers.
Here are a few examples on how you can use release letters.
Example: Have you ever finished a conversation with someone
that ruffled your feathers or left you still hearing their
words like sounds of chalk going backwards across a
blackboard? The conversation tumbles repeatedly in your
mind for hours, even days. This is a perfect time to write
a release letter. Set a timer for 10 minutes and let it rip
across the page.
What you do with the release letter afterwards isn't
important. If you feel comfortable leaving it in your
journal, do so. If you prefer to use separate paper and
burn it, do so. If you prefer to tear it out of your
journal later, do so.
Example: You can use this same exercise to curb over
spending. This process came to me years ago when I was an
accountant giving advice on how to curb over spending.
Have you ever been in the position of feeling you just
"gotta buy" something. Let's say you are watching
television and you see something you "gotta have." Or maybe
a friend recommends a book and you still have 10 others to
read but the recommendation is haunting you. How about
seeing something, someone else has that you just "gotta
have." The urge, just doesn't want to relinquish its grip
even with conscious "fighting it" thoughts. By writing a
release letter, you can release this urge at least the
majority of the time.
You can also use release letters to move you past the urge
to eat something that isn't on your food plan.
After several release letters you can even see what need is
expressing itself and triggering these reactions. Once you
identify the trigger, the process need usually subsides.
There is no guarantee that this will work all the time,
however, you will probably find it provides the release the
majority of the time.
Style 3: Wisdom letters. A wisdom letter is writing to your
wisdom self. A wisdom letter works well after a release
letter because it enables the process of moving on. The
experience allows the wisdom transition into learning and
usually into a more positive light.
Adding dialogue, either in part or as the whole letter, is
an excellent way to enhance the experience. Initials will
help you transition between wisdom self to other self.
Style 4: Thank you letters. Since my parents passed, I'm
always coming across things I want to thank them for. Even
the small things seemed important to share. Now, in
hindsight and wisdom, I can see how even the small things
rippled through my life. These letters are also a special
way for keeping their memory alive.
We both know that an attitude of gratitude is a peaceful
place to be and thank you letters is one avenue you can use
to be on that path. Our gratitude feelings fuel our
spiritual connections with the universe and with all living
things. Peacefulness is also very attractive to others and
what we want to manifest in life.
You can also use one of these letter styles to let go of the
"wish I had said that instead" thoughts and feelings or to
share unfulfilled wishes and dreams that no longer fit but
can't seem to move on.
Letter writing is an excellent way to find closure or
complete unfinished business in order to heal or learn.
Whether you have or haven't already been using letter
writing in your journal, dedicate a whole week or two to the
exercise. You might think that when you finish one letter,
there isn't another reason to write another. Be patient,
another will probably appear because you have uncovered what
was on top. When you get tired of the exercise, stop, and
switch to another technique.
(C) Copyright 2005, Catherine Franz.
Catherine Franz is a life and business coach living in
Northern Virginia. She has presented journaling workshops
over 20 years. Catherine has authored two great books on
tips and techniques of journaling. Copies available at: