A Love Letter to My Fear — A Journaling Technique for Anyone Experiencing Fear, Anxiety, or Distress, Which Might be, Well, All of Us??

Dearest Ethel,

I am anxious about living through another fire season. Anxious about staying healthy and pain-free into my old age. Fearful for the future of life on planet Earth. Worried about where the political situation in N. America is heading. Wondering if I will ever find a loving partner with whom I might share my heart and the final chapters of my life. Distressed about how humans are attacking each other. Afraid that my access to clean water and acupuncture will end. And, if you must know, always occasionally catastrophizing over the possibility of losing my mind, and/or my capacity to function independently, and becoming a lonely old biddy babbling to myself, unable to access the internet to blog or to order hair gel.

Fear. Is your name really Ethel? Not that there’s anything wrong with that name. It just makes me chuckle. Which is kind of a good way to start a letter to you, methinks (methinks?). Not that any of this is funny. But this is a love letter. Perhaps, humor doth (doth?) make a love letter more appealing.

So, Ethel, how do I love thee? Hm. I’m not sure. I understand you and see why you are here. These are quite terrifying uncertain times. And yet, I notice that you tend to thrive on my obsessing about the future. You might not be so powerful if I noticed this present moment. In this moment, I am safe. I am pain-free. There are no fires in my neighborhood. I think I still have most of my marbles. Water is quite accessible. I have an appointment with my acupuncturist tomorrow. I am here blogging. And my supply of hair gel is intact. And, OK, the loving partner is nowhere to be found after numerous forays into various dating sites over the years, but there is still time. I am not a babbling old biddy just yet. And, in the meantime, there are many sources of love filling my heart and nourishing my soul.

So, Ethel! Do you really need to be here? Is there something useful I might learn from your presence? Is there someplace else you might go? Is there a better use of your time and energy?

Dearest Paula,

I appreciate your taking the time to face me head on. If you were to try and ignore me, I’d just yell louder, and that would not serve you. I do have a purpose. I remind you that you are alive. That you care. That you are paying attention. I get you to feel the urgency to take the steps to be your authentic self and make your particular contribution. Right? You are a deeply emotional and sensitive person. (Do you have a rainforest mind??) You feel fear. Grief. Loneliness. These come easily to you. Did you know grief and loneliness are my pals? We often hang out together. You might say we are your support team. Your backup singers. But, here’s the thing. Your songs have been pretty pathetic over the years. No offense. I am getting a little bored with all of those breakup songs. (No offense, Taylor Swift. I love your break up songs.) I have stayed around all these years to keep you company really. You know this might sound kind of cliche but you could consider a different playlist. I don’t have to leave, of course, in case you need me for a while, but you might invite some playfulness, some gratitude, maybe even, heaven forbid, some joy. No need to feel guilty about it, either. There might be some fabulous harmonies that would nourish all hearts. What say you?

Dearest Ethel,

I think I can do that. Thanks. Starting the playlist now. How about Jon Batiste. Freedom.


To my bloggEEs: Writing letters to parts of yourself, and answering them, is a pretty powerful journaling process. Let us know what you think and if you try it. I’ve used this technique a lot and always receive helpful insight. This one was just what I needed today! Thank you all for being here. It means so much. Love to you! What’s on your playlist?

(Note: More exercises like this can be found in my new book Saving Your Rainforest Mind–A Guided Journal for the Curious, Creative, Smart, & Sensitive)

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

10 responses to “A Love Letter to My Fear — A Journaling Technique for Anyone Experiencing Fear, Anxiety, or Distress, Which Might be, Well, All of Us??”

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  1. Chris Nelson Avatar
    Chris Nelson

    Good morning Paula,

    Yes, thank you for giving us a great example of a way to address a part of us that might not be serving us well any longer. I am just starting to read a book on overthinking which covers changing the patterns of our thinking. So, this is good to accentuate that material.

    So, thank you for this material and for your books and journal. It is great to have people who understand.


    1. pprober Avatar

      You’re welcome Chris! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Cheri Miranne Avatar
    Cheri Miranne

    This really helped me. Thank you, Paula.🤗

    1. pprober Avatar

      Thanks for letting me know, Cheri!

  3. Leafy Avatar

    This is beautiful, thank you for sharing. I journal less than before, but do talk to these different sides of me in my mind. Fear, conflicted parts, and my body too. Sometimes it feels nervous when I know there is nothing to worry about and that I’ll be okay, but I thank it for caring rather than getting angry. My principle is that each part tries to protect and help me flourish, so it’s more about discussion coordinated by my “inner adult” and respect between them than arguing.

    Also, any tip to get back into journaling regularly? I’m often physically and mentally fatigued at the end of my day and while I love writing, it takes a lot of concentration. I do intend to buy your book and try the exercises, but I should get to that point by December on my reading list.

    1. pprober Avatar

      One idea is to not think about journaling as a regular practice. Think about it as something that is there when you need it. Maybe taking the pressure off might make it easier to start. Also, if you can talk to these sides in your mind, maybe you don’t need to write them down?? Then again, perhaps my book will be so inspiring, you will be excited to get going!! 🙂 And once you start, you’ll see how nourishing it is! Thanks, Leafy.

      1. Georgia Patrick Avatar
        Georgia Patrick

        What a great blog, Paula. You did this because we are all hip deep into your latest book and journaling through every page, right? On the plus side, I like the whole RFM approach, which makes it very different and distinguished from those other journals on my library shelf. That’s right, the journals I’ve filled for 30 years have their own shelf in the library. I wonder. Super curious me wants to know the impact this journal is having on everyone else who is pounding through all of the pages with pen. On one hand, it’s very personal. Why would I ask to see someone else’s pages? On the other hand, curiosity just won’t stop.

        1. pprober Avatar

          Oh, yes, Georgia! I would love to see how it’s going with the journal! Do you want to start and share some of your writing (or artwork) here? Thanks for mentioning that my book is different from all the other journals out there. Written specifically for RFMs! Maybe I should create an event for sharing journal entries. What do you think? Any suggestions on how to set it up? I might need a tech person to organize it. By the way, thanks again for writing your review on Amazon. 🙂

          1. Sharon Avatar

            This is genius. Thank you so much for sharing this technique and your personal experience. I’m definitely going to try this.

            1. pprober Avatar

              Great! Thanks, Sharon.

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