Love Letters Reconsidered
“When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless.” -Pema Chodron
On this snowy day, we thought of capturing that concept through Valentine’s Day without using commercial goods and we thought you might want to try it too.
Step 1: Self-Love
We are going to write two love letters: one to ourselves and one to each other. Why one letter to ourselves first? Well, one of our core beliefs is that the love you seek starts and ends with the love you have for yourself.
In other words, the more you practice self-love, the more you will feel and receive love (your partner’s letter to you, for example) and the more you will give love (your letter to your partner, for example).
Therefore, the first letter that we will write will be to ourselves. It will be an exercise in self-love and appreciation. Once we’ve done that, we will be in a better position to witness the true beauty of each other and write a letter to each other.
This second letter will be for expressing what we appreciate about the other person and about the relationship. However, in our view, this letter would be more valuable if it wasn't written with a “mainstream” mindset.
Step 2: Love for our partner
Here are some reminders about the concept of love in the Relationship Zen sense. As Fred Roger said:
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun, like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
In other words, don’t try to change your partner through your love letter — express appreciation for who they are in the moment. Keep that idea in mind as you write the second letter, especially.
Equally important, be aware of where you’re placing your happiness — in your own hands or in their hands? The latter is dangerous. Look out for things like: “You’re the only one for me”, “I can’t live without you”, “I know there will never be anyone else for me”, etc.
Instead, try: “I appreciate the way you...” and/or “I’m so happy that we get to share Valentine’s Day together because…” The idea behind the state of Relationship Zen is to be appreciative, not dependent.
Avoid placing your happiness in someone else’s hands. More on this, here. It’s not about being two halves, but about being two wholes who share a path. Nevertheless, stay true to your own word.
For both of these letters, you can begin by writing a list of all the things that you can think of. Don’t judge your thoughts, just write. Write about your own and your partner’s mental, physical, and spiritual strengths, experiences, contributions.
Also write about all the things that you appreciate about your shared experiences. It can even be in point form! Then, you can re-read them and tailor the approach to ensure that you are speaking your true voice and loving them for their being, without trying to change them and without making them responsible for your happiness.
To help, try writing with your non-dominant hand because it may offer a different, simple, and less restrained perspective. We will reveal the letters to each other on Valentine’s Day (or a few days after since we may need an extension). We will most likely keep the letter that we’ll write to ourselves private.
Not only will these letters be uplifting on V-Day, but they can be re-opened later on. With regards to the letter to yourself, definitely bring it out when you are feeling a little low – it can have the effect of a positive affirmation.
With regards to the letter you received from your partner, maybe re-open them after you’ve recovered from an argument. Maybe bring them out during random occasions like when you are out for dinner, at home on the couch, etc. If your appreciation for yourself or for your partner changes and there are things you have to add, write more letters and add them to the envelope.
But that’s not all
This doesn’t have to be something you strictly do with your partner. This can be something for your parents, grandparents, children, friends, siblingsand other special people in your life. For children and for younger siblings especially, you can write a letter about self-love. That is, a letter where you remind them that they are loved and to love themselves, to face adversity, to not worry about the cool kids, to not give in to negativity, to be nice, and to remember that you will always be there for them.
Let us know your thoughts about these ideas and potential experiences with this activity on Facebook! Here is a quote that reminds us to be two wholes, sharing a path.
“Happiness held is the seed. Happiness shared is the flower.” – John Harrigan