A Love Letter to Myself – How Love Can Overcome My Fears
Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame, has a podcast talk that I found on the Insight Timer meditation app (free and wonderful!). It is about self-care in the face of real fears that we face – like pandemic, or racism, or any of the multitude of fears each of us faces daily. How do we deal with these without stuffing them, burying them, or finding them inconvenient?
Elizabeth Gilbert has learned a daily practice – or at least whenever she is faced with or feels a sense of fear about something. She goes where she can be alone for a bit, with her thoughts, feelings and her journal. Then she writes a love letter to herself – to her fear, from her unconditional love.
She says, “Ask yourself, what are the words that I wish someone would say to me now? If the most loving, supportive, strong person were here with me now, what would I want to hear that person say? And then you write down those imaginary words - from love, directly to you – directly to your fear. When you start writing to yourself from love, you’ll realize that you always know what you needed to hear, because you’ve been longing to hear those words your whole life, you’ve just been wanting somebody else to say them. Now is the time that you say those words to yourself. And you do it on paper, because it’s somehow easier that way. That’s what I do, anyway.”
She then offers the words that she often uses. Here are a few of her suggestions:
“I’m right here, right here with you. I love you. I have nowhere to be other than right here with you now, to just love you. I’ve got you. I’m not going anywhere. I see how much you’re suffering and I have nothing but time for you. And I’m going to stay here with you through this. And I want you to know that I don’t need anything from you now. I don’t need you to be brave, a grown up, a leader, … I don’t need anything from you. I don’t even need you to feel better, if that’s not possible for you right now. I would never ask you to do something you can’t do. I don’t need you to banish your fears magically before my eyes, or suddenly be all 'chill'. I don’t need anything from you. I just love you. And I’m gonna stay right here beside you, no matter what may come. You are not alone; you’ve got me. And there is nothing you could do or not do that would cost you my love or my presence. And there’s nothing out there in the world that would take my love away from you. I’m not going anywhere. I’m right here. You can feel as shaky as you need to feel, whatever it is I will face it with you, we will face it together. I love you.”
For me, after a lifetime of waiting to hear such affirmations from other people, and feeling so unworthy when I did not, I am beginning to realize and accept that I am worthy, and I cannot wait to hear those kinds of words, so I need to own them. I can say these things to myself – get my needs met – without expecting and being disappointed resentful when I don’t get what I need from others.
And if you have the same background of faith in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit as I do, these words will feel quite familiar to you. These are words we hear over and over in our Scripture, knowing that God loves us in this very manner – unconditionally – and is always there for us. So when I write a love letter to myself, it just as well could be God’s voice I hear. These sentiments are always in my heart, if I choose to hear them, where God resides and guides me.
I am grateful to Elizabeth Gilbert for this tool to take control of fulfilling my needs, so I can better serve those around me. In this way I can tap into God’s love, which is always there for me in my heart center. You can find her entire talk, with much more to offer, at Insight Timer (app), “Facing Fear with Compassion” – 23 minutes long. I highly recommend this talk, as well as this free app that offers so many talks and guided meditations of all lengths and varieties, making a life-saving meditation practice so easy. Enjoy and be filled and may you face your fears with compassion.