Some of you may know that one of my (eight — yes, eight!) current journals is dedicated to letters to myself. As odd as it sounds, it is perhaps the most helpful tool in my “psychological toolbox”. Over the course of many years, since walking away from Binge-Eating Disorder and towards better physical and emotional health, I have cultivated a gentle, caring inner voice. That gentle voice chimes in (softly, but persistently) whenever my inner critic barrages me with negativity. Sometimes, in order to drown out the voice of the critic, I write myself a “Dear Megan” letter in which my gentle self speaks kind words of wisdom to the part of me that feels depleted and shrunken by negativity. Tonight, I wrote myself the following letter:
Another summer break is drawing to its close. It has certainly been an eventful one! You’ve experienced several challenging situations and had mixed emotions. Tonight, let’s focus on all that you’ve accomplished and all the things that make you unique and wondrous:
1) You kept up with counseling, even when the work became intense, triggering, and emotion-laden.
2) You made a point to spend time with your women friends, especially when your instinct was to withdraw from everyone.
3) You practiced open communication with your partner, family, and co-workers, even when you were scared to do so.
4) You established and maintained healthy self-care, tending to your physical, emotional, and spiritual health all summer.
5) You let go of some tasks (and fears) that had been holding you back.
6) You began cultivating some new friendships, although part of you was anxious.
7) You took steps towards living a more authentic life.
8) You recognized an important truth: You are a child of God, blessed with many gifts of the Spirit — awareness, compassion, creativity, curiosity, enthusiasm, intelligence, and wonder!
So, as your summer break ends, you can be proud of yourself, Megan! Keep all this in mind as you head back to work in a week. Maintain your self-care routine so you can be fully present with your clients. Don’t hesitate to say “no” or delegate work if you’re overwhelmed. Don’t be afraid to take a mental health day if you need one. Be gentle with yourself. And, as your friend says, “Take care of you!”