Quantcast
Shutterstock

Every Woman Should Write A Love Letter To Themselves

"Eat like you love yourself. Move like you love yourself. Speak like you love yourself. Act like you love yourself."---Unknown

Wellness

I grew up with a mother who was good for writing a letter—or 2 or 10. This was especially the case as I got older, there was a breakdown in communication, and she wanted to make sure she was heard and/or she wanted to clarify a few things and/or sometimes, she even wanted to apologize. Between that being a part of my upbringing and my being an avid reader and writer from an early age, letter writing has continued to be a part of my life and lifestyle. Ask anyone who's close to me—or who I've released before—and they'll tell you that it's nothing for them to receive a letter—or 2 or 10—from me. It's such a powerful way to process, purge and even cleanse in some ways.

I got the confirmation on this several years ago, when I penned a spiritual letter of sorts to single women. Whenever a woman reaches out to me who feels as if she's at her wit's end (romantically speaking), I email it to her. It's been really humbling to see the kind of peace and "Ohh…so that's what this has all been about" insight that it provides. And the beauty of it is, since it's a letter, she can always refer back to it (another plus of sharing your thoughts and feelings via writing rather than simply having a conversation; it's documented). Yeah, letter writing is an underrated superpower. It really is.

That's why I am a huge fan and avid encourager of women writing love letters. No, not to other people (although that's cool too)—to themselves. If the first thing that comes to your mind is that it sounds odd, feels awkward or even leans on the side of vanity, I'm hoping that in 3-5 minutes (give or take), I'll totally be able to change your mind.

There Are Proven Psychological Benefits to Writing Things Down

media.giphy.com

Did you know that if you write your goals down, there's a far greater chance that you'll achieve them? There's an article that ran in Forbes that said this is actually proven in neuroscience. It claims that jotting things down taps into your "external storage" (it's a visual reminder) and your "encoding" (the biological processing by which decisions are made). So already, can you see that if you write yourself a love letter, it will serve as a visual reminder while also helping you to make decisions that are centered around self-love?

Also, there are other psychological benefits that come from writing things down. Writing things down helps you to express your emotions. Writing things down brings forth clarity. Writing things down can also help you to see how much progress you've made over time as you go from one level of thinking to another.

So yeah, before going any further, this point alone should be enough of a reason to pull out a pen and piece of paper, don't you think?

You Need to Document How You Feel About Yourself

media.giphy.com

Sometimes, when a woman writes me about all of the things she hates about her life, I'll ask her to shoot me 10 things that she likes about herself and 10 things that she totally dislikes. 9 times out of 10, it never fails. While she can easily rattle off all of things that she loathes, she struggles with sharing even five things that she loves. Although you might want to automatically chalk that up to her having low self-esteem or a lack of self-awareness, while there may be some truth to that, the reality is that all of our brains come with an automatic negative bias. Researchers are looking into all of the reasons why, but a part of it is due to what we expose ourselves to on a daily basis, both inside and out.

Anyway, I'm bringing this up because between all of the political drama, gossip blogs and vlogs and Instagram filters that we're exposed to on the regular, it can be really easy to become extremely cynical and hard on yourself. One way to counter that is to "reprogram your mind" by focusing on positive stuff. A great starting point is to hone in on specific things about yourself that are good, healthy and affirming.

Since it's so easy to talk about what you don't like about yourself, why not go out of your comfort zone and write down some of the things that you actually do?

It’s a Great Reference Point for the Not-Feeling-Your-Best-Days

media.giphy.com

You wake up 15 minutes late. The outfit that you want to wear decides to fit you funny. You leave your car lights on overnight. When you finally do get to work, you forgot all about the staff meeting you were supposed to lead. Then you get a text from your man that totally pisses you off and a voicemail from your mom that totally leaves you baffled. You order your lunch and it's all wrong. The day just sucks. Sucks, I say.

When you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and it has a domino effect, not only does that have a tendency to drain your energy, it can make you feel all kinds of bad about everything that's transpiring; including when you look into the mirror and it's a bad hair day on top of everything else. Something that can calm and center you is a self-written love letter. It can remind you of all of the things that you've got going right within when it seems like life, at least for today, is all wrong.

It Sets the Standard of What to Require of Others

media.giphy.com

Now that we've gotten a few reasons down for why you should be all for writing a love letter to yourself, you might be thinking, "OK Shellie, but how do I actually go about doing that?" That's where this point comes in. Although you could hash out an email, I think getting some pretty stationary and writing all of what you have to say in your own handwriting is far more impacting. Think about what you love about you—both inside and out. Think about what you are deserving of. Think about what sets you apart from everyone else on this planet. Reflect on the standards and boundaries that must be put into place in honor of the love that you have for you. Tell yourself why you are going to nurture and pamper yourself without reservation or apology more often. Write down all of the reasons why someone should feel honored to have you and why you will wait until that kind of individual comes along.

I promise you, once your letter is complete, it will automatically put a fire in you that will not only inspire you to love yourself, it will require others to respect and esteem you to the utmost as well. Yep, writing yourself a love letter will change your life and the way people in your life treat you. Guaranteed.

It Holds You Accountable to What Love Means to Yourself

media.giphy.com

A lot of us struggle with doing an exercise like this because 1) we don't even know what it means to love ourselves and 2) we definitely don't hold ourselves accountable to doing it. Yet ironically, that's the main point and purpose of writing ourselves a love letter. A letter is a written form of communication. As you're exploring in your mind what self-love means to you and you're putting those words down, it can define love in a way that is distinctive; a way that resonates with you like nothing else can because no one knows you quite like you do.

Then, once the letter is written and either mailed to you (why not? That way you can get more than a bill), posted on your fridge or blown up and hung over your bed, you can read what you said, over and over again, making sure that if no one else loves you right and well, you will. Daily.

So, what are you waiting for? Pull out a bottle of wine, a pen and stationery and get to writing. If something profound comes to mind (and I'm pretty sure that it will), put a line or two in the comment section.

Everyone deserves at least one love letter in life. Especially one that they've written—to themselves.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

What It Means To Find True Self-Love

Jada Pinkett-Smith Wants You To Chill With The Negative Self-Talk

How Pursuing God Taught Me Self-Love

Feeling Yourself Is The Vital Step To Finding The Love Of Your Life

Feature image by Shutterstock

Originally published on September 7, 2019

Last year, Meagan Good experienced two major transformations in her life. She returned to the small screen starring in the Amazon Prime series Harlem, which has been renewed for a second season and she announced her divorce from her longtime partner DeVon Franklin.

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Mental health awareness is at an all-time high with many of us seeking self-improvement and healing with the support of therapists. Tucked away in cozy offices, or in the comfort of our own homes, millions of women receive the tools needed to navigate our emotions, relate to those around us, or simply exist in a judgment-free space.

Keep reading...Show less

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

To be or not to be, that’s the big question regarding relationships these days – and whether or not to remain monogamous. Especially as we walk into this new awakening of what it means to be in an ethically or consensual nonmonogamous relationship. By no means are the concepts of nonmonogamy new, so when I say 'new awakening,' I simply mean in a “what comes around, goes around” way, people are realizing that the options are limitless. And, based on our personal needs in relationships they can, in fact, be customized to meet those needs.

Keep reading...Show less

Lizzo has never been the one to shy away from being her authentic self whether anyone likes it or not. But at the end of the day, she is human. The “Juice” singer has faced a lot of pushback for her body positivity social media posts but in the same vein has been celebrated for it. Like her social media posts, her music is also often related to women’s empowerment and honoring the inner bad bitch.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts