It is said, hindsight is 20/20, but what do these numbers mean? 20/20 is the opticians term for perfect vision. With that in mind, this expression is saying that when we look back at situations that went poorly, we can clearly see (hence 20/20) what could’ve been done better.
As good as that sounds, not everyone enjoys the benefit of hindsight and that is why they keep repeating mistakes, falling into traps and short-changing their future. For some others, they haven’t yet made these mistakes but their choices today are pointing downwards.
There’s good news! You don’t have to suffer the fate others have. Learning from their mistakes and how they pulled through is the way forward.
So, Ibiene curates a number of “An open letter to my younger self” that we all could learn from.
J.K Rowling, Author, Harry Potter:
Be yourself. Be easier on yourself. Become yourself, as fully as possible. Attempting to isolate those life lessons I could pass back to the girl I used to be was a truly illuminating exercise. It made me look at my 17-year-old daughter and remember, in a more powerful way than ever before, just how raw and vivid life is for her, in a way that it has been only intermittently for me as an adult. I would not go back to 16 for anything you could give me, and yet I still recognize that she has something I have lost along the way — something I had to lose, to stay sane.
Stephen King, Best Selling Author:
I’m writing to you from the year 2010, when I have reached the totally ridiculous age of 62, in order to give you a piece of advice. It’s simple, really, just five words: Stay away from recreational drugs. You’ve got a lot of talent, and you’re going to make lots of people happy with your stories, but — unfortunate but true — you are also a junkie waiting to happen. If you don’t heed this letter and change the future, at least 10 good years of your life — from age 30 to 40 — are going to be a kind of dark eclipse where you disappoint a lot of people and fail to enjoy your own success. You will also come close to dying on several occasions. Do yourself a favor and enjoy a brighter, more productive world. Remember that, like love, resistance to temptation makes the heart grow stronger.
Alice Cooper, Singer, Songwriter:
Stay away from drugs and alcohol. They will eat your life one glass, one sniff at a time.
Suze Orman, American Financier:
You really do not need to be as sad as you currently are. I know you feel as if everyone is smarter than you, that everyone is prettier than you, and that everyone just has a better life than you. But I want you to know that as you get older you will come to find that none of that is true. Your future is going to lead you to places that in a million years you could never, ever imagine. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but let me tell you this. You will never have to worry about finding love. You will never have to worry about being able to support yourself. You will never have to worry about who is going to take care of your mom. You will never have to worry about being happy or fulfilled… Think great thoughts but always relish small treasures.
Stan Lee, Comic Book writer, Producer:
Dear impulsive 16-year old self — nothing ever stays the same. Tastes change and the culture changes. The important thing is to stay on top of what is au courant and be resilient enough to go with the flow and change with the tide. And if you’re lucky enough to be one who contributes to the change in culture, never forget your roots or those who helped you make the grade.
Hugh Jackman, Hollywood Actor:
Love life… Just listen to your gut. Keep writing down one list…and one list only…the 5 things you love to do, and the 5 things you are good at…they will keep changing, but one day they will match up…and there is your path…but even then keep writing your list just to make sure you are still on the right track.
Wow! Some of these letters made you almost want to cry right? It is certain that you have a message for your younger self. Why not try to ensure your younger self doesn’t miss it?
Here are tips on how to write an open letter to yourself?
Do not believe your own lies:
We all want to paint ourselves and our past actions in the best light, even when it’s far from the truth. However, real growth comes from brutal honesty.
In writing a letter to your younger self, you’ve got to confront your decisions and gain peace. It’s over — done with. You can’t change it. All you can do is hope to get closure.
If you have any trouble, start with a sentence a day and work your way up to a letter. Eventually, the thoughts will just flow, and you’ll have written a page in no time.
Have a sense of peace:
If you’re exceptionally hard on yourself, you’re not alone. You might be going or have gone through the negative cycle of berating yourself for past mistakes, even though the outcome can’t be changed. However, self-criticism can take a toll — on both our minds and bodies.
Our brains are trained to distinguish the good from the bad. When we sway from our goals or expectations, we assign a negative value to the experience.
Writing a letter to your past-self can allow you to access the more compassionate side of your brain — to analyze the situation in a new light. We’re human, and we all make mistakes, no matter how evolved we are. The trick is to learn from mistakes in order to not make them again.
After the letter, what next?
You can put it in an envelope and have it sealed to open one year or more later to see how much you have improved from when you wrote it. You can burn or trash it. Whatever makes you comfortable. But first make sure, there’s a lesson, a resolve and an action(s).
This exercise can be especially beneficial for those who are introverted, or have done things they are unwilling to share.
Alright, it’s time to write yours.
What would a paragraph of your letter look like? Do share with us in the comment section.
Note: These letters were extracted from The Week.