A Love Letter to Our Younger Selves
As we age and hopefully become wiser, we also become more aware of our past mistakes and thoughts/behaviors that did not serve us. Some of us may still be living with the outcomes of decisions we made earlier in life. As we are reminded of our more foolish days, it can cause us to head down a road of guilt, blame, shame, and regret. While we should continually reflect, learn and grow, that does not have to include beating ourselves up in the process. The past version of ourselves is just that, the past. We should embrace every phase of our life as the stepping stones to becoming our very best. This is why I believe that along our journey we must take the time to love on our younger selves and make peace with anything we may be holding on to; almost like a love letter giving yourself a few kind gentle reminders.
Maybe this love letter would go a little something like….
Dear younger self,
You didn’t know.
We are so quick to judge the choices of our past but we don’t acknowledge the mindset we were in or level of maturity we had when making those choices. They say when you know better, you do better so how can we condemn ourselves for what we simply didn’t know? You may have never been taught the lessons you had to learn the hard way. Or you had to endure some unlearning as you were taught a lot of the wrong things through your upbringing (generational curses are real and heavy). So instead of asking why you didn’t know, take pride in what you’ve learned and the patterns you were able to reverse to become a better you.
You tried your best.
I don’t think anyone wakes up in the morning with the intention of making poor decisions. Often times when we make mistakes we had the best intentions going in. In life we quickly realize that experience has to be the teacher in some instances. If you are still mourning the failures, all of the things that didn’t go right or as planned then how can you make room for all of the successes yet to come? We have to release the strong holds of our past which may include giving our younger self a pat on the back saying “you did what you could, now let me take it from here”.
You thought it made sense at the time.
The problem with allowing your mind to play the “if only” game is that you are judging your younger self using your current wisdom (which you didn’t have back then). You were young and your logic was different. Many things that made sense to you years ago may seem so foolish now but that is just a testament to your evolution. Embrace all that you’ve gained along the way and get excited about the growth that is to come.
You really meant well.
When we were young, we had a plan. We thought we had it all figured out and knew exactly how it would come together. In our minds we were doing our current selves justice by writing out our life story, you know to take out any guess work (sigh). Looking back we can shake our heads at the idea that we somehow had all the answers but in thinking about it, we had the best intentions. This is what I hope you remember before blaming the young you, that every behavior (even the worst ones) was usually attached to a desired outcome. Many of the mistakes we made stemmed from an attempt to meet a need or fill a void be it love, acceptance, success, certainty, etc. We really were trying to help ourselves back then, we just didn’t always go about it the right way.
You have another chance at this.
I believe that one of the most important declarations we should make to our younger selves is that there is a chance to do better and get it right. This is where we take over and become the person we needed back then. We express gratitude for being right where we are with a hope for the endless possibilities for our future. With God’s grace and our new wisdom, we can fulfill our destiny despite the pitfalls we’ve experienced along the way. Self-love and forgiveness means loving every version of ourselves including the naïve, hard-headed one. Once we can accept who we were and comfort her a little bit, we can give her rest while continuing on the beautiful path to being healthy and whole.
So let’s give our younger selves a break, it is definitely time, and they deserve it.
Moment of reflection: Do you currently regret any decisions you made when you were younger? How will you make peace with yourself and move on? If you have made peace, how did you do so? What are some of the most impactful lessons you learned from your youth? What would you tell your younger self now?