Getting past the pretending to discover gratitude

Written by Amie on December 16, 2011 – 5:41 pm -

“When we understand that the ability to live with any situation is not in what happens, but in our relationship to ourselves and our own minds, we are free. Absolutely, breathtakingly free.” ~ Geneen Roth

 

I seemingly “had everything I needed”

When I was feeling depressed and hopeless, gratitude was very difficult for me to even consider. I did not feel grateful for much during that time, even though I seemingly “had everything I needed”. It made me feel guilty when I couldn’t get to the feeling of being grateful for everything I had. I thought I should be the most grateful person in the world. I used this as just another way to beat myself up. I would tell myself things like, “you should be grateful, how can you not be grateful? You have such an easy life.” Now that I am on the other side of depression, it is clear to me the pattern I followed my whole life. I kept pretending everything was okay. The pattern was set early in my life. “You have everything you need, so don’t complain. Just smile and get on with it!” I did this for most of my life. I did the things others expected of me, and lived my life in pretend land.

“if you can’t be happy in this situation, what is wrong with you?

I had even convinced myself I was happy. Then reality hit. My heart and soul would no longer agree with the lies my mind was telling me. My heart and soul started getting louder than my mind. Something was way off. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first. I tried to continue telling myself the lies that had worked up until this point. “You are so fortunate, you *should* be happy.” Then the voice of the judge took over to tell me how bad I was for wanting anything other than what I had, even happiness. “There is something terribly wrong with you if you can’t be happy in this situation, what is wrong with you?” On and on went the mean voices, trying to convince me *not to* explore any further. The mind does not like to be questioned. This is the ego, (or the “pain-body”, according to Eckhart Tolle) and it is very strong. Once I started questioning everything, my mind would try to push back against me, trying to convince me not to question my life. The mind (or ego, or pain-body) likes being comfortable; which means, “keep doing the same thing you have always done.” It really is like fighting a separate person for awhile. However, the more I kept questioning, the quieter and quieter my mind got. The more I questioned, the more I needed to process my feelings around the things I questioned. This doesn’t mean having to figure anything out. I just had to *feel* my feelings about the things that came up. There were times when I felt worse before I felt better, but slowly the mind started to quiet down.

don’t worry so much about “getting it right”

I sat down to write about gratitude today, so I am going to skip ahead to that now! I want you to know, I didn’t go from being completely depressed for years to suddenly feeling gratitude. I have written about my process in past posts, and will write about it in future ones. I know it can be very difficult to feel gratitude if you don’t love yourself. So, please be gentle on yourself if you are “trying” to feel gratitude but you don’t feel it is genuine. Just keep going through the exercise of thinking of things you *could possibly* be grateful for. Don’t worry so much about “getting it right”. There is no “right”. If something makes you feel good even for a split second, say to yourself, “I’m grateful for that”. Please, please, please don’t use this exercise as a way to beat yourself up. Everything in this process of waking up from depression is part of the journey. Nothing is right or wrong, it just “is”. So there is no need to try to do it right. Just be grateful for yourself in this moment, be grateful for your breath, be grateful that you can stand, or walk, or sit, or see….start with the seemingly “small” things that will at some point feel like the biggest, most important. Just say it and let it go…I’m grateful for…….the gift of……..YOU!

“fake it til you make it” 

The true feeling of gratitude will come in time. I now feel gratitude every single day. I really *feel* it in my body. I used to just say it, but not feel it. Now I feel it. I want to share with you what I do each day because it is so powerful in my life. In this case, I do agree with the “fake it til you make it” saying. I do think it is beneficial to find things to be grateful for each day, even if you can’t get to the feeling of it. Keep trying, but without judgment of yourself. So what if you can’t come up with anything except the blanket covering you right now. It’s all okay! One day, you will start feeling gratitude, and it will feel so good!

my process

Each day I sit down and write one whole page of what I am grateful for. I just make a list. Some days I have the same things as the day before, but I still write them out new each time. Some days I may have a completely new list. Some days I may have trouble coming up with a whole page, but I keep at it until I fill my page. And I always feel better when I finish. The other day I started writing the words, “I am grateful for, “the gift of” , instead of just writing the words, “I am grateful for”. I can’t believe the difference in how this felt in my body. Just adding the words “the gift of” made me feel even more grateful. It was amazing to me how different it felt to think in terms of receiving a gift. It was a new perspective to me. I feel surrounded by abundance. I receive so many gifts each day, every moment. Right now I am receiving the gift of connection, the gift of breath, the gift of sight, the gift of warmth, the gift of feeling vulnerable, the gift of the sweet taste of chocolate, etc etc. These are all gifts to be grateful for. I wanted to put this out there in case in helps you in your process. Let me know what you think!

***you are loved….you are perfect as you are…..I am grateful for the gift of your presence……all is well…..breathe…..receive the gift of yourself……you are love…..***

“Being Ourselves”

 

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