The Art of Unsent Letters


The Art of Writing Unsent Letters

Being silenced is an awful feeling. Not being able to express how one really feels can be detrimental to one’s emotional health and physical health. And yet, it’s not always in our best interest to express how we are feeling or what we are thinking to another person. Perhaps we are not ready. Perhaps the relationship is too fragile or the time is not right or we are afraid or....There are many reasons, as to why we might not always feel free or ready to speak our minds. Maybe we cannot. 

If we cannot express our feelings, that doesn't mean they go away. Instead, we internalize them and are affected by them in a multitude of ways. They can affect us emotionally, psychologically, and physically. And these unexpressed thoughts can take on lives of their own. They are heavy to carry and because we can’t express them, they are perhaps even more present in our minds.

Unsent letters provide the writer the opportunity for self-expression without the risk of actually confronting or sharing one’s feelings another person. While it doesn’t replace the impact of an actual conversation, it can provide writers with an outlet, an opportunity to rehearse a conversation, or the realization that all that was really needed was an opportunity to personally process whatever the issue is. In the event that the person is no longer within our reach, it can provide us with our only change to "communicate."

Unsent letters are written just like any other letters, starting with a salutation - “Dear ___________” or “Hi ____________.” The difference is that you will never send this letter. Never. You can either write it in your journal or if you feel that there is a chance it might one day be discovered and that would cause a problem, then write the letter and then destroy it.

Unsent letters don’t have to be angry letters and I don’t only write them when I am upset or having a conflict with someone. I like to think of them as courageous letters. Honest letters. They may actually positive letters. So, think of them more broadly than something written only in anger. Writing one can be an extremely useful process.