Practicing Gratitude to Heal Abuse

Updated on January 10, 2018
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The Little Shaman is a bodywork healer, spiritual counselor, hypnotherapist, and a specialist in Cluster B personality disorders.

As we go about our daily lives, we can sometimes get bogged down by the mundane or unpleasant things that happen and we can forget how much we have to be grateful for. And even in the darkest times of your life, there are still things to be grateful for. Sometimes finding them can be the difference between making it through these times and not, so it's a good idea to get in the habit of practicing gratefulness every day. If you are feeling truly grateful, it's hard to be unhappy—even when things are not going as well as they could be.

Practicing gratitude has other benefits as well. People who practice gratitude are less self-centered, less judgmental, more generous, and happier—and it helps fight depression, too. Narcissists are a great example of the truth of these things. They are grateful for nothing and they are miserable people who never feel like anything is enough. Their life is a constant struggle to fill that emptiness. This is the same struggle many people face to varying degrees, whether they are narcissistic or not. Because of the society we live in, many people have come to believe that getting or owning more things will make them happy, or that a perfect romance is going to come along and complete. People are looking outside of themselves for validation and completion. And they are not finding it, because the truth is, if what you already have doesn't make you happy, what makes you think more will?

This is where practicing gratitude comes in. It's learning to appreciate and be grateful for what you already have. Not just material things but also spiritually, emotionally or any other way. For example, when you're deciding whether or not you can afford the latest model car, remember to be grateful that you already have one when so many others don't. There are so many people in so many different situations in this world. While you shouldn't feel guilty for that, practicing gratitude is a way to remind yourself that things aren't as bad as we sometimes imagine them to be.

It can be hard to get started on this if you're not used to it, but there are a few ways you can get started living more intentionally and practicing gratitude. You could create a daily list of things to be grateful for, or even just one thing and make it different every day. The point is not just to read it, but to write it and really think about it. This helps you see how many things there really are. You could create what's called a gratitude jar, and every day write something on a piece of paper that you are truly grateful for. Then at the end of the week or the month or however you would like to do it, you can read over them. You can meditate and use that time to think about the things you are grateful for, or think about it before you go to sleep. Maybe when you wake up, you can go over your goals for the day and add something to be grateful for. You might say, "Today my goal is to pinpoint my negative thoughts and I am grateful that I have this opportunity to make my life better."

It might sound silly or small, but try it for a week and see the difference it makes. It really is about simply switching the focus of your mind from one way of looking at things to another. It's possible. It just takes practice. Remember that these things are mostly just habits and new habits are just as easy to create as old ones.

There are so many things, from the big to the small, for which to practice gratitude. If you ate today, you can be grateful you ate, because so many didn't. If you didn't eat, you can be grateful you can breath when so many others cannot. Every day we are alive and walking around on this earth is a day to practice gratitude. There are so many amazing things about life and living. If someone only ever focuses on what they don't have and what they can't do, they will always be unhappy. There is always something you can't do. There will always be things you don't have. If you can learn to be happy with what you already have, everything else is a bonus.

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