12 Jul Create Valuable Intimacy Now with the Unlimited Benefits of Letter Writing
You can write a letter anywhere!
Create Valuable Intimacy Now with the Unlimited Benefits of Letter Writing
Do not use for commercial purposes or share widely without Ruth’s permission.
When not face to face with someone, how do you communicate? Often tendencies to rely on texting, emailing, and social media quickies can constrain possibilities. Even a phone conversation of depth can be ephemeral.
Another choice is available to you: the unlimited benefits in writing letters. They are an effective, inspiring way to enrich your personal and professional relationships. You may have already experienced how the personal and professional merge and morph into one another through friendships and shared projects.
Maybe you’re like me, though. My keyboard addiction has reduced the clarity of my handwriting so much that I can barely read my own. Then, I increasingly revert to printing. But what I’ve learned about letter writing has convinced me to practice cursive writing again.
If you think letter writing is an old-fashioned, dated pastime, you can transform it into “dates with yourself and others.” Its sustainable freshness brings the open-ended benefits and pleasures you’ll see below. The very act of letter writing and what it elicits is a healthy adventure. See what evolves for you.
Writing by hand could make you smarter. Among other experts who support the benefits of handwriting is William R. Klemm PhD, senior professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/memory-medic/201303/why-writing-hand-could-make-you-smarter
According to Klemm’s article, there is a unique relationship between the hand and the brain when it comes to composing thoughts and ideas. Learning cursive writing is an important tool for cognitive development that “integrates sensation, movement control, and thinking.” He adds that “brain imaging studies show that cursive activates areas of the brain that do not participate in keyboarding.”
Klemm compares the benefits with learning to play a musical instrument. Presumably, continuing to use handwriting also activates a broader range of your capacities implicit in the haptics field of research. This studies the integration of visual, and tactile information with fine motor dexterity, all contained in handwriting.
All the more reason to add communicating with another person on paper to talking to yourself through keeping your journal by hand. That combines the physical advantages of handwriting with hearing and capturing your own voice, sometimes not done until you shape the letters on the page.
Making a date with yourself ensures some private time and a record to re-visit for insight and appreciating who you are and what you want. That capture will also show developmental progress as well as when you may get caught in repetitive loops that keep you static. Even better is preserving the worthwhile experiences that you may otherwise forget.
The joys of writing and receiving letters from the heart. In Isabelle Allende’s introduction to Eduardo Galeano’s The Open Veins of Latin America, she tells the story of a stolen trunk of love letters belonging to an old man. Rather than destroy them, the thieves decided to mail back a letter every week. The old man felt “crazed with joy” as he received what he thought was a message of love from a woman each week.
If not a traditional love letter, imagine writing to a good friend who has stood the test of time and trust. With one of her best friends from high school, a 20-year-old friend continues a letter-writing process that she describes as ”thematically random and perfectly chaotic.” They are “compilations of a month’s worth of updates, inner ramblings, and working drafts of poetically-written prose.” For additional fun, they include affectionate tokens such as a packaged favorite tea bag, playlist of songs, sometimes a stamp for the next letter.
What Chloe loves about her exchanges with Megan is the personal experience of almost hearing the sender’s voice as she reads her handwriting. She finds it easier to be honest about herself when writing at length in pen, not liable to editing.
A colleague offered her valuable two cents about the “wonderful pleasure in selecting a card or notes or stationery.” She adds how much she enjoys “curating a collection of correspondence materials that feel like they reflect you and/or the person you’re writing to.”
To me, creating each letter of the words, their slants and unique framing in my increasingly readable writing is confirming. The width of each stroke and color of ink on the page, if you choose a pen (for penwomanship, of course!) adds to the expressive experience.
For another purpose, consider the often worthwhile risk you could take to express your love or liking for someone. Putting your feelings and specific reasons on paper also clarifies what has meaning to you about the person.
Whether or not you mail it, the process of writing a letter expressing caring opens (or closes) possibilities for a more authentic relationship. Then, you may generate new possibilities or relieve yourself from endless what-ifs and repetitive meanderings of thought that continue from avoiding showing your feelings.
Letters may solve or at least ameliorate problems and issues. Regardless of how conflict-averse you are, letters are one choice for addressing lingering issues. They may be significant, habitual, or just niggling.
One significant example was a longstanding issue a client had with her father; they had been out of touch for a few years, in fact. I asked her if it would make sense to write him about what was on her mind as well as her hopes, without expectations and acrimony. She did that within a month or so. Later she told me her father had died unexpectedly and how relieved she was that he had read the letter.
Of course, this is an extreme and serious example. But there are many issues that color and distort the quality of relationships that postpone improvements or perpetuate feelings that rob people of aspects of their quality of life.
What one matter will you choose to address with a letter within the next week? In other words, how much longer will you perpetuate an issue? When a letter is promising or appropriate, use it to avoid postponing possibilities and losing precious time for you and the recipient.
Empower yourself by writing one letter. The very movement of writing a letter to someone else or yourself in a journal or alternative, can accomplish at least two things. First, it will engage and strengthen a wider range of your intellectual and physical capacities. Secondly, doing it can open new paths for yourself as well as the other person.
As you become comfortable with such communication, each new effort will flow more easily and be more enjoyable. Start your new adventure now by writing one letter to someone you value. Who will it be? When will you do it?
Ruth Schimel Ph.D. is a career and life management consultant and author of the Choose Courage series on Amazon. She guides clients in accessing their strengths and making viable visions for current and future work. To access Ruth’s seventh book Happiness and Joy in Work: Preparing for Your Future and benefit from her invitation for a free consultation, explore her website.