Writing a Letter to Fear

Writing A Letter To Fear

By: Hephzibah Adesina

We’ve all experienced at least one heart-breaking situation in our life, and sometimes it’s extremely difficult to move past it. Our subconscious wants to hold on to the ended relationship or time in our life the same way a baby latches on to their favorite blanket or pacifier. You start creating scenarios that prolong the healing process by adding unwanted wounds and feelings.

Yes, it’s so much easier just to let go, but for some reason, you can’t drop that pacifier. You panic like a baby and pick it right back up. Trust me, I’ve been there!

What is keeping you from letting go of past relationships? 

Why can’t you forget about your high school teacher who didn’t believe in you or the potential partner who ghosted you?

Why is it that when things are going well, suddenly Mr. Flashback is here reminding you of your past?


Dr. Dorfman, a high achieving psychotherapist, stated that “The mind absorbs and reminds us of previously experienced traumas – some of which manifest in phobias.” Our emotional fears would be a manifestation of Dr. Dorfman’s statement. Fear is a complex emotion that is often accompanied by a bag of other feelings. I’ve been there, and I can honestly say I hate it. The old me avoided the emotions that accompanied the fear of letting go like a plague, but I later realized that it was only prolonging my healing process and preventing me from letting go. I saw myself holding on to people and situations that I should’ve let go of ages ago. With age and mindfulness, I recognized the fear that was in me and then started the process of facing it.

I didn’t go skydiving, audition to be on Fear Factor, or get a pet tarantula, but instead, I meditated and observed myself. I saw how fear manifests and how easily it spiraled into a paralyzing disease. Encouragingly, I was able to find a practice that worked for me, and maybe it’ll work for you. Thank God, right?!  

First, I took accountability for the thoughts and the images my mind produced.

We are blessed with the power of control, specifically related to emotions. When Mr. Flashback shows up with memories and feelings from a previous heartbreak, please stop, breathe, and get grounded in the present moment. Continue breathing until you feel fully secure and grounded. 

Second, I started writing letters to those I was having a hard time letting go of. 

We don’t live in a Nicholas Sparks book where a message in a bottle will lead to a love story that young girls around the world would cry about forever, but writing a letter has many benefits. 

  1. It shows that you are willing to be vulnerable and face your emotions.

  2. It will serve as a self-reflective practice. 

  3. You can HONESTLY express your feelings without judgment.

  4. You might realize something that you didn’t know before.

  5. It helps you organize your thoughts and emotions. 

  6. It prevents you from blindly reacting based on emotions, preventing later regret.

  7. You start remembering essential things that you might’ve forgotten or ignored.

  8. Lastly, it’s scientifically proven to be beneficial. James W. Pennebaker did an experiment to test this out. 

Here is an example of a short letter: 

To my ex-best friend:

Thank you for being you and allowing me to be me. Thank you for experiencing many firsts with me. Thank you for praying with me and praying for me. Thank you for sharing in some of my happiest moments, listening to my saddest stories, and radiating compassion and empathy. I guess it was time to say goodbye. I saw it happening months prior to us no longer talking, but I still tried to keep us together.

Maybe you were doing the same, but who knows? We were never good at communicating when we weren’t happy with each other. In the end, when I tried communicating where I felt our disconnect was, it was apparent you no longer cared, and my words ended up falling on deaf ears. I saw zero effort in making a change, and my irritation was growing day by day. After a while, I no longer felt as if I could be myself around you. I felt judgment, jealousy, and lack of encouragement. I couldn’t tell exactly what you were feeling. Our feelings led to us ghosting each other—a comedic end to a relationship that struggled with communication. I still love you very much, but I’m okay with where we are now. I struggled with letting us go, but once I could sit, meditate, and write, many things became clear to me. I hope you’re mentally and physically well. I hope you’re thriving wherever you are. Bye for now.   

I’m not a doctor, but I am a human being with human emotions and experiences. My advice might not work for everyone, but it doesn’t hurt to try. These steps are not a quick fix and, in the beginning, it’s going to require much energy, but hopefully lead to great results. It’s time for all of us to close those chapters, take control of our emotions, rewrite our story, and move on! Until someone creates a time machine or Agents J and K from Men in Black allow us to use their time machine, the truth is the past cannot be changed. Sorry, guys!  


Dana Dorfman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist affiliated with New York University

Pennebaker, J. W. (2018). Expressive Writing in Psychological Science. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(2), 226–229. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617707315