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Completing What Can't Be Changed

Aug 17, 2007
Whenever you start replaying conversations about what you could or should have said to someone else, as if you are still trying to change something that can't be changed, you are wasting your energy.

A simple letter-writing exercise that many of my clients have used can help you re-energize yourself.

*If a relationship has ended

*If someone has power over you and you can't confront them directly

*If someone has died

*If a stranger almost caused an accident

*If someone stole something from you or destroyed your property

This exercise can help you to stop obsessing about what happened and get on with doing what is important to you now.

You will need to write three letters, but the letters are not to be sent. They are a way for you to express important thoughts and feelings and to release your emotions. You do not ever have to show these letters to anyone else. If you want to, you can destroy them when you are done.

Once you get started, don't think too much about what you are doing, just write without stopping until you feel finished.

The first letter is to the person you can't stop thinking about. Write all your uncensored thoughts and feelings - even if you have said those things in the past. It is fine to feel anger and sadness as you write, just keep writing, even if the paper gets wet or torn.

In the second letter, act as if you are the person receiving your first letter, and answer it. As you answer the first letter, put yourself into the shoes of the person you wrote it to. Imagine that you are the person receiving and reading the letter you wrote.
Now write a letter back to you, as if he or she was actually responding to you. He or she may express anger, disbelief, sadness, or anything else. That person may ignore your points, justify their behavior, or be responsive to you in the letter. Even if you think the person you wrote to would refuse to respond, try to write what you imagine what they would think or feel.

The third letter is also from him or her back to you, but this time the letter is the letter you wish for, and says everything you want to hear.

Imagine that the person you wrote to understands what you said in your first letter, and is completely responsive to all of the points you made. He or she may apologize, express appreciation, or anything else you want - after all you are writing this letter to yourself to complete unfinished business, and you know what you need to hear.

When you have completed all of the letters, reread them, and decide what to do next. You may want to share parts of them with someone you trust. You may even want to share them with the person in question. Only you can decide.
About the Author
Communicate skillfully about sensitive subjects in business situations. Have the challenging conversations that lead to cooperation and success. http://www.DareToSayIt.com/blog
Laurie Weiss, Ph.D. is a Master Certified Coach and communication expert. Dr. Weiss has spent 35 years helping clients resolve conflict in business and personal relationships. Email feedback@laurieweiss.com
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