Two weeks ago, I was set with the unnerving task of writing myself a compassionate letter. I had to make a list of things I’m unhappy with and put myself in the shoes of a close friend. After reading through the list I had to write myself a letter from my friend’s perspective.
It was a real challenge putting myself in my friend’s shoes. How do I view myself in the eyes of another person? The amount for scrutiny I put myself under really make me incredible emotional. I had to look deep within myself and see what it was that I was missing. I cried, I sobbed, I cheered and I smiled throughout the 2 weeks. I threw fits of anger and had so many moments of doubt and despair.
But somehow, I managed to pull it off. I wrote a completely heartfelt letter and one that I am truly proud of. My therapist was extremely impressed with my letter, citing it as one of the best she’s ever heard.
This was a list of the things I’m unhappy about:
- My job
- Not owning a house or being able to afford one
- Regrets about not doing better in school
- Weight issues
- Missed out on university experience
- All my cousins I grew up have grown and are now married with kids etc. but I feel stuck
- No respect from family and still feel treated like the baby
- Low confidence
- Not fighting to be heard or demanding respect
- Never being informed of what’s happening at home
- Not having the freedom that others have
- Letting my room get into a bad state
- Losing who I am as a person e.g. the charitable caring side
- Letting go of great opportunities out of fear of not being allowed to take it e.g. Canada
This is the letter that I wrote:
Dear Jasmine’s Sofa,
It saddens me that you are going through what you are going through and have so many things that you are unhappy with. I wish I could click my fingers and it would all go away.
Let me start off by saying that you’re not alone. We all have our insecurities and things in our lives that we wish we could change. So, don’t ever feel guilty for feeling the way that you do because it’s OK to not be OK. You aren’t alone.
Your job is something you have complained about for years now. I believe you find it repetitive, uninspiring and that you’ve reached your full potential. I remember you saying that you felt like you wasted seven years in a dead-end job. But it’s important for you to see it from another perspective. Seven years ago, you didn’t have the experience that you have now. This job may not be ideal but it has given you more skills and expertise that you didn’t have when you graduated so no those seven years weren’t wasted because you’ve been bettering yourself without realising.
If you look at it from that perspective, then maybe you’ll see that you are far more capable than you think. Let that inspire confidence in yourself.
In terms of not owning a house or being able to afford one, once again you are not alone. I too am in the same boat as are most young adults from the same generation. This is not your fault. Our economy and state of the country has made it impossible for young people to get on the property ladder. You can’t let this eat you up because unfortunately it’s just a situation that is out of our control.
And that is why you also can’t feel bad about what has happened in the past for example how you regret not trying harder in school. What’s happened has happened and now you’ve got to make the best out of the situation. At the end of the day you got respectable grades, went to a good university and achieved a 2:1. That is a good result and one that you got through hard work. How much harder could you have worked? You should be proud of yourself and what you and only you achieved.
At the end of the day you are your own individual. So, what if some of our cousins, our own age, are now married and maybe have kids. It doesn’t have to happen at the same time for you. You’re on your own path in life and maybe there are things that they envy about you. For example, you’re the only one in the family that travels as much as you do. How many of our cousins went to Paris after you did? It was your influence and your daringness that inspired them to copy your holidays so don’t look at them and feel inadequate because you are living your own life in the best way you can. We aren’t all supposed to be on the same road.
That brings me onto the next point. Low confidence/ I certainly do not know you to have low confidence. How often do you go travelling on your own? That requires confidence. How often do you tell our elders when they are wrong about something? That requires confidence. You have it within you but you just need reminding of it.
Travelling is a daunting thing to do and the fact that you do it on your own makes you so incredibly brave and confident. Is this not the type of freedom you desire? Maybe you just don’t realise that you might just have what you desire. And that’s ok to think that because depression usually heightens feelings/experiences and doesn’t let you think clearly which is why I need to remind you that you are a kind, loving guy and I will always remember you as the kid that had the most guts, confidence and bold spirit out of all of us. You have it within you, still, but you just need to reach in and pull it back out., maybe then your family will see you for what you used to be and things will change in your life.
It must start with you as a person. Only you can make changes in your life. No one else will do it for you.
Unhappy about your weight? Do something. All it takes is baby steps. Start going for a daily walk. After a week introduce another activity. Similarly, replace one bad foo with a nutritious one. Eventually out will have changed your eating/exercise habits and be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.
It’s the same with your room. Change doesn’t come overnight. Start with one part of your room and then do another part the next day. Before you know it, your room will be clean. They say our environment can influence how we feel. Maybe with a clean room you will begin to feel more positive about life.
I hope this letter has been able to help in even the smallest way. You honestly have it within you to make the necessary changes in your life. Don’t ever doubt yourself because you mean so much to so many people. I wish there was a way you could see how loved and revered you are. I know you can get through this and get out of the rut you feel you are in. Do not give up and know that you have so many great people in your life that would be willing to help if you just reach out to them. You can do this.
From a friend
I’m impressed that I was able to write the things that I did and it makes me believe that deep down I know all the stuff that I said; that I know I’m more capable than I think.
I urge anyone that’s suffering from depression to do this task. Maybe by undertaking this activity you too will be able to reach deep within yourself and find some of the answers that you need. This didn’t solve my issues but it certainly got rid of some of the clouds that I had in my coffee. Whenever I’m in my feelings and need some inspiration I will read this letter and remind myself that there’s more to me than I think.