The road to living in gratitude can be paved with bumps and detours. Some people incorrectly think that once you learn how to live in gratitude, it’s a steady, ongoing state of mind. Sometimes it’s a struggle, but once you learn to shift your thinking about what’s going on, it becomes much easier. I actually have an exercise I use to help me in getting back on the road to gratitude.
I’ve written before that I’m a hand-wringer, by nature. If I’m given some news that upsets me, it can be difficult to move away from worrying about it and fretting about an outcome. So what I’ve learned to do is ask myself some questions when I find myself in the place of worry.
- What is the absolute worst thing that can happen as a result of this?
- How likely is it that I will actually experience the worst outcome?
- Why am I fearful? Exactly what am I afraid of?
- What is this telling me about myself?
- Is there something I’m supposed to learn here?
- What other things do I have to be grateful for? Make a list!
I like to start with the list because it puts me in a place of abundance. I can quickly rattle off a dozen things I’m truly grateful for, and given just ten minutes, can think of many more. That list, compared to the one thing I’m worrying about, puts things into perspective.
Then I move to the first question – what is the absolute worst thing that can happen as a result of whatever it is I’m fretting about? The worst case scenario never seems as bad as the dread I initially felt. I also find that the odds of me experiencing the absolute worst outcome aren’t that high. It calms me a bit to acknowledge this.
When I ask myself what I’m truly afraid of, I often find I’m fearing something that is superficial. I’m afraid I’ll appear less than perfect to others. (as though I ever imagined myself to be perfect in anyone’s eyes) I fear I’ll look like I’ve failed. (everyone fails – and it’s through failure that we learn the most) Someone will be disappointed in me. (usually it’s more a case of me being disappointed in myself because my expectations are unrealistic) People will stop loving me. (there it is! The fear many of us have because of conditional love we experienced as children. Old business – no longer applies!) I’ll feel shame. (this is the most destructive feeling we can have – and it’s a choice, so unless I choose it, I won’t feel ashamed.)
What does this tell me about myself? That as far as I’ve come in my progression and growth, there is still so much to be done. And that’s okay! We are all works in progress. As long as we are growing, we are moving in the right direction. So self-discovery is a wonderful blessing.
Is there something I’m to learn? There is always something to learn. Sometimes I have to go through a lesson over and over again before it becomes ingrained in me. Sometimes I’ve made a decision that wasn’t the best one, and I can examine that and learn something. Or maybe I’m on the wrong path completely and this is a sign.
Look at all the positives the speed bumps and detours can bring! It brings me full circle from worry and dread, back to gratitude.
There will always be a small mound of worries next to a big pile of blessings. Remaining in a place of gratitude depends on which thing you choose to focus on.
Deborah Perdue, RScP
Author of “Grace of Gratitude Journals”
and “Grace of Gratitude Reflections”
and “Path of Gratitude Coloring Book”
all of these and much more at www.graceofgratitude.com