Cognitive Restructuring: Letter to My (Baby) Self

Hey, little baby [J],

The first letter I wrote to you was really mean. [My therapist] wanted me to rewrite that letter. At first I didn't think I could do it but then some verses from the Bible popped into my head. Here they are:

“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will take care of me.” (Psalm 27:10)

A lot of the time it will sort of feel like Mom and Dad aren't really there with you. You will always have enough to eat and drink, and you will always have shoes on your feet and clothes to wear. (Don't worry. You won't always have to wear those frilly dresses.) You will get your teeth brushed, your diapers changed, your hair and body washed. Mom and Dad will make sure of all those things. But once you have 2 or 3 siblings, Mom and Dad won't really hug you or play with you. There are going to be lots of babies in your family and that will be a lot of fun. The babies will get Mom and Dad's hugs and attention. And you might not realize it for a long time, but you will get overlooked and accidentally ignored. And that won't feel good. You won't develop strong, positive attachments to either one of your parents. And a lot of times you will feel empty and alone. But you and I both need to believe that God is able to be there for you and me in ways that Mom and Dad can't be. And that is true for everyone because moms and dads aren't perfect. When you feel alone or forsaken, believe that God still wants to take care of you.

“I was placed in your care from birth. From my mother's womb you have been my God. Do not be so far away from me. Trouble is near, and there is no one to help.” (Psalm 22:10–11)

You are very blessed because your family goes to church and you hear about God. And even though you will wrestle with and question your belief in Him, you will find that God is the only real answer. Around the time you become firm in your belief, there will be a lot of scary and difficult things going on. Your family will have moved to a place where you don't know anybody, and you will not get to go to school with your friends from church. You will go to a very different school and a different church. You will no longer be taught about God by your friends' parents or your relatives or other adults you've known for a long time. You will sit by a boy in school who dies in a car accident. And you will be in a scary and sinful relationship with a boy who was also one of your first friends at your new school. You'll probably notice it then but as the years pass you'll realize it even more: You need help. But you don't know how or who to ask. These situations are too heavy to handle alone. So at night you will pray to God because that is all you can think to do. And you will pray, asking God to hear you even though you have doubted His existence, you continually sin against Him, and you have not committed yourself to following Him. And I do believe He heard you and pulled you out of the relationship you were in. When you didn't know who to go to for help, you went to God. Don't ever stop going to God for help.

“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, the few people left of the nation of Israel. I've carried you since your birth. I've taken care of you from the time you were born. Even when you're old, I'll take care of you. Even when your hair turns gray, I'll support you. I made you and will continue to care for you. I'll support you and save you.” (Isa 46:3–4)

These verses are from God to His children. No matter how old you get, you will still be God's child. Even after you outgrow your cuteness and you lose your innocence, God will still pick you up and carry you. Even if you live long enough to earn gray hairs, God will still be willing and able to carry you just like your parents did when you were too young to crawl or walk or scoot on your own.

I know you don't feel these things, and neither do I, really, but we both need to believe these things. Maybe in time the feeling will match the faith. It is the faith that matters most, and that is our choice.


Scripture is taken from GOD'S WORD®. Copyright 1995 God's Word to the Nations. Used by permission of Baker Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

In the acknowledgment above, fair use constitutes permission. See http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/rights-permissions/permission for information on Licensing and Permissions.

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Thanks for reading! It's great to hear from you. -J

  1. I like your last statement. Faith and love is a matter of "will", not feeling. Feelings fluctuate. Real commitments do not. God wants our commitment because He is committed to us. And He is trustworthy. If we ask Him for what we lack with pure motives, He will provide it. :)

  2. This is interesting. Can I ask why your therapist recommended writing a letter to your baby self? I like the idea, and I'd like to do it. I'm trying to wrap my mind around the ways it helps.

    1. Hi Mike. I am glad you asked that question because it helps me to spend more time going over these thoughts in my own mind. And to be honest, I have not been able to completely wrap my brain around this exercise either. At first I had no idea why my therapist had me do this. She said this is an example of "rescripting" my default thought patterns and processes that began to take shape in my early childhood. In writing this letter, I was able to challenge the childlike interpretations of past interactions and events that I have held onto since childhood or at least since adolescence. Not only did it challenge my longstanding interpretations, it also put me in a position to think like I did when I was a child. There are several acknowledgments of feelings that I typically dismiss or "beat down" so that I don't have to think about or experience them. In this letter I accepted those feelings as real and a part of my life and myself. Writing from the present day perspective enabled me to partially resolve (hugely big emphasis on partially) some of those thoughts and feelings and to some degree soothe myself. Another way of looking at it is putting a snippet of my internal dialogue on paper; the letter is an adult's response to a child's distress. The most recent thing I posted also discusses some of these same concepts. I hope that helps explain the letter's purpose at least a little. It is all very abstract, but I think there is some validity to it. If you have more specific questions I would be willing to address those as well.

    2. Excellent explanation. After I posted the question, I thought about it further. I thought (as I imagined writing a letter to my baby self) it would be "forgiving" in tone. After all, who can cuss out a little baby? Instead, I'd probably tell myself, "Don't be so hard on yourself when you fail...it's going to happen more often than you'd hoped." etc etc.

      I have been writing letters to my young sons for the past few years. I do it every now and again, so that when they turn into men (maybe graduation time, or marriage, or after I die), they can read my fears, my hopes for them, my prayers, etc.

      I think I'm going to partake in this little exercise your therapist recommends. Thank you for the insight!