Imagine being so upset with a spouse or child that you can barely speak. Forget about having a civil conversation in the moment, you do not know if you can even get out two or three words. Here is a suggestion: try writing a letter instead. Writing is a way to convey your thoughts and emotions in a more controlled manner. It is something that marriage counselors often advise.
Interestingly enough, the counselors at Rye, New York’s Relationships & More say that letter writing does not have to be limited to expressing anger. It can be helpful in expressing your thoughts and emotions whenever you are too overwhelmed to speak. For example, a letter can convey profound joy as well as profound sadness. Letter writing can help you make sense of thoughts that seem jumbled in your head.
Slow Down and Think
One of the primary benefits of letter writing is that it forces you to slow down and think. Why is that? Because it takes more time and effort to put your words on paper compared to blurting them out with your mouth. You have to form letters to make words and words to make sentences.
Slowing down and thinking makes it easier for you to organize your thoughts. It makes it easier to work through the issue at hand while you are putting ideas down on paper. Emotions may still be involved, which is not a problem, but at least writing forces you to acknowledge your thoughts at least as much as your emotions.
Other Benefits of Letter Writing
Slowing down and being able to think things through is just one of the benefits of letter writing. Here are a few more:
- Multiple Drafts – Writing a letter gives you the opportunity to create several drafts before you submit the final version. There are no drafts when you speak. Once words come out, they can’t be taken back or changed. Think about that next time you are ready to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind.
- Not Sending – A very wise person once recommended writing a letter and then letting it sit for 24 hours before sending it. Why? Because waiting gives you time to reconsider. You can always change your mind and not send a letter if need be.
- Encouraging a Response – Writing letters when you are too overwhelmed to speak may also encourage the other person to respond in kind. Now you are both taking time to reason things through rather than speaking things you will live to regret. Letters encourage responses that lead to conversations.
Of course, letter writing is not 100% foolproof. It is still possible to write things that should neither be spoken nor written. That is why you let a letter sit for 24 hours before sending. That way, you can go back and make changes before your words turn into a source of contention.
Letters for All Occasions
Technology has taken away the need to write letters. Unfortunately, so few people do it these days. Yet letters are appropriate for all sorts of occasions. They can obviously help couples work through communication problems. But letters can also be a source of joy and encouragement from one person to another. They can keep faraway family members up to date. They can say ‘thank you’ for a gift received or a positive thought sent.
When you find yourself too overwhelmed to speak, try writing a letter instead. A letter can help diffuse the overwhelming emotion you are experiencing while allowing you to organize your thoughts in a positive and constructive way.