Have you ever written a letter of gratitude? If not, it’s one of the most amazing, healing things you can do. And if daily gratitude is not a part of your life, you will do yourself good by releasing the emotional burdens of the past.
Some of us have gratitude journals and some express gratitude in prayer or during meditation. These are the most wonderful ways to change the way you see the world. It’s hard to be depressed and grumpy if you’re thankful!
Gratitude for the good things in life is easy and that’s what we tend to focus on. We may say a cursory thank you for the difficulties and challenges, often more out of a sense of obligation than from a feeling of true gratitude – which is, admittedly, extremely difficult. Getting caught up in the emotion of a hurtful event and reliving those painful memories can keep us from benefiting from the healing effects of gratitude.
Sometimes, writing a letter that you never send is the best way to acknowledge the silver linings and lessons that have come out of a bad situation. In a letter, you can express your feelings, bare your soul, visualize a positive outcome (if one hasn’t manifested yet) and release the burden of the past.
Writing a gratitude letter takes on a special meaning when it’s written to someone who has done you wrong or upset you.
An exercise in the Silva Method called the Three Fingers exercise can help you pre-program yourself to remain calm while you think about a past hurt that needs to be released from its/their emotional hold on you. It’s a comfort knowing that you can pre-program yourself to stay calm when difficult memories come up, and focus on being grateful so you can release their emotional burden!
Expressing Gratitude in a Letter
Start by getting into the relaxed alpha brainwave state using the the Silva Centering exercise. Coax your mind into a compassionate, non-judgmental state.Visualize and feel yourself radiating love outward to everyone and everything in the universe.
Then, grab a pen and paper, or open a blank document on your computer, and address it to the person who needs your gratitude.
This may not be the person who has saved you from the depths of despair or kept you afloat when you felt like you were drowning in tears. Give this person (or people) gratitude, of course. Then move beyond the people who have helped you and express gratitude to those who have hurt you.
This takes courage. You may not be ready to give thanks to someone who has wounded you deeply, so start with someone who annoyed you.
Here’s an example of a letter of gratitude for someone who annoyed you (you can use something similar for people who have hurt you):
I am writing to you to express my gratitude at the experience that resulted from having been given the wrong part for my vacuum cleaner. Initially I was very upset. I thought some very unkind things about you. I knew I would have to waste gas and drive back to the store and get it straightened out. But then I started to put things in perspective. I realized that it’s not a big deal at all. Even though this part was mis-ordered, it’s very inexpensive and ultimately (even with the extra gas) much cheaper than a new vacuum cleaner. It’s no big deal if my house doesn’t get vacuumed for another day. I am thankful that I have a reliable vacuum cleaner and spending a bit of money and time to get a simple part is worth it.
I am grateful for having a vacuum repair business in my town. If you were not here, I would have to throw away my machine just because of one tiny replaceable part wasn’t available! I am grateful that you apologized and gave me the right part when I came back.
Most of all, I am grateful that I got to spend a day playing with my kids on a messy carpet! A day spent with kids on a messy carpet is a treasured moment that will never be relived! If I had spent the day fussing about my carpet I would have missed out on that wonderful time together.
I am grateful for this experience!
The best gift you can give yourself is self-awareness. How did you react when you received the wrong part? Did you automatically react with anger and judgment…. yes, you did. H ow did that feel? Did it make you feel good to react that way? No. Anger and negativity don’t feel good! Finding the silver lining neutralizes that negative energy.
If important plans are thwarted by someone’s mistake – even if things “happen to you” – you can still choose your response and become a better person because of the reactions you choose and the lessons you learn.
As you get comfortable writing a letter of gratitude to someone who annoys you, move on to people who have hurt you. Expressing gratitude to people who have hurt you is hard, but healing. An example: Give thanks to the class bully who publicly made fun of you in high school – maybe you are more compassionate toward others who are bullied and you are better at spotting people it’s best to avoid. If you recognize the lessons in every situation, you prepare yourself better for the future.
Write from a perspective of empathy and understanding. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand why they did that they did. Instead of thinking, “he’s a bad person” think, “he’s a good person who made a bad choice and acted on that choice.
A letter of gratitude releases the emotional burden of hanging on to past hurts, and gives you an appreciation for how you’ve grown because of the experience. Try writing a gratitude letter today and see how much better you feel, almost instantly after putting pen to paper!