Write Your Own Burn Letter
This is the time to tell your own story. The best way to do this is to write a burn letter—a story you’ll write and read to a tree or someone you trust, the Lord, and yourself. It can be a letter, a list, or a journal chronicling your thoughts. However you want to write it, I’m going to ask you to think back to your parents and siblings, to your greatest accomplishments and humiliations, and to all of the relationships that have worked or failed. Think about how your weight has affected your life—all of it: friends, family, confidence, choices, personality, events, consequences. Everything you can remember!
To get yourself started on this very important burn letter, find a quiet place and time to answer the questions I’ve listed below. Then add whatever you like as you write the letter. I want you to prayerfully consider what events, words, opinions, etc. have filled your life’s backpack with stones that you have continued to carry, refused to let go of, and that have ultimately weighed you down for years. Write them all down. This is a valuable inventory of your life up until this point.
Don’t worry about grammar or chronology. Just use the questions below to prompt your memories. Go at your own pace. Answer a few of them a day if you like, until you feel like you’ve told your story and put it all out there in black and white. Prayerfully address each question. Leave no stone unturned. The point is to write down your thoughts as you ponder your life and recognize the voices inside that have been holding you back from reaching your goals in any area of your life, whether that area is your weight, career, relationships, or whatever.
- What are your earliest memories of childhood?
- Would you describe your childhood as happy? Why or why not?
- Did you suffer any abuse—physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, or otherwise? If so, explain.
- Who were you closest to as a child?
- What kind of house did you live in?
- Did you have a bedroom to yourself?
- Do you have memories of comforting yourself with food? If so, how?
- Do you have memories of comforting yourself in other ways? How?
- Did you ever eat more than your share of cafeteria lunches? If so, why?
- Did you hoard food in your bedroom or any other secret hiding place?
- Who else in your family has struggled with weight, if anyone?
- What was your family’s attitude toward heavy or obese people?
- When did you first consider yourself overweight? Tell the story.
- Did you like elementary school? Why or why not?
- Who was your favorite elementary school teacher, and why?
- Who was your least favorite elementary school teacher, and why?
- Did you like middle school and high school? Why or why not?
- Who was your favorite teacher in middle school or high school, and why?
- Who was your least favorite teacher in middle or high school, and why?
- Were you ever on a sports team? If so, what did you like about it?
- What’s your favorite memory of high school?
- What’s your most embarrassing memory of high school?
- What was your greatest joy as a young adult?
- Did you like having your photograph taken? Why or why not?
- Did you ever diet in high school or as an adult? List your diets here, and write about why they worked—or didn’t work.
- What kind of dating life did you have after high school?
- If you didn’t gain weight until adulthood, write down when that was and why you think it happened.
- What are your best personality traits?
- What are your worst personality traits?
- Who has betrayed you in life and how?
- Who have you always been able to trust and why?
- If you’re married or living with a significant other, describe that relationship. How has it been a positive force in your life?
- If you’re in a relationship that makes you unhappy, list the things you want to change.
- If you don’t think the relationship you’re in now could ever make you happy, why do you stay?
- Do you suffer from joint pain, arthritis, backaches, wheezing, or any other health issues associated with being overweight? How do
- these issues affect your quality of life?Do you have a job you enjoy? Explain why.
- Do you have friends at work? List who they are.
- Do you socialize outside of work? If so, how?
- What would you like to change about your career?
- What would you most like to change about your personal and professional relationships?
- How would your life change if you lost weight, ate healthier foods, and/ or exercised?
- Is there anything you avoid doing because of your weight or body image?
Once you’ve written out the answers to these questions as well as any other thoughts that may come up as a result of reflecting on your past, hand write your letter in whatever format you choose. Don’t type it. There is something very therapeutic about the writing process—trust me.
When you have completed it, I want you to read the letter aloud to yourself first. This is an important step, because it means that you’re owning your past and are ready to let go and move on. You are telling the truth here, and only the barest, most uncomfortable truth at that.
Next, read the letter to someone who won’t judge you—someone who accepts you for who you are right now, even if it is solely to God or to a tree. This exercise of sharing your letter verbally helps you put these life events behind you.
Then, once you’ve acknowledged these things in your life that are both positive and negative, I want you to burn the letter. That’s right. Stand over a fire pit in your back yard, the fireplace in your living room, or even the kitchen sink with a lit match, and set that letter on fire. You are burning the past and all of the negative associations that come with it. (Please do this safely!)
The act of burning the letter is so powerful. It is the physical act of letting go of your past. It’s like telling Heavenly Father that you are done with your past and you are ready and choosing to move on to greater things!
As you watch your words of the past burn, let them go! Forgive and forget! That includes forgiving yourself. Start with a clean slate and begin redefining who you are based on what you deserve!
This is the beginning of your transformation. You are not the person who wrote that letter any more! You are transforming yourself so that you can live your dreams, and letting go of the past is an important first step. You are on your way.
Write Your Burn Letter in Five Easy Steps
1. Think about how your weight has affected your life. All of it: friends, family, confidence, career, choices, personality, events, consequences.
2. Write these things down. Start with childhood if you can go that far back. You don’t have to write in chronological order.
3. Read your letter to yourself.
4. Read your letter aloud to someone you love and trust, or to an object. The read it to God.
5. Burn it!