Gratitude - the expression of appreciation towards ourselves or towards others - is such a key component in living a happy life. The more gratitude you feel, the more you see to be grateful for. It grows. But the opposite is true as well -- the less gratitude you feel, the less you see to be grateful for. So, until we’re practiced at it, it can be really easy to only see the negative aspects, rather than the positive aspects -- of ourselves and of others.
When you feel good about yourself, it’s easy to accept and value yourself, because you know that your value isn’t dependent on others accepting and valuing you. So regardless of what others may say or do, we don’t compare THAT to who we know we are inside.
Here are some steps to practicing gratitude:
Make some space for this exercise. Take a few minutes to put your hand over your heart and take a few deep breaths. Really come into the present moment, and not be anxious (because you’re thinking about the future), or guilty (because you’re thinking about the past). Once you feel safe and relaxed within yourself, and present with yourself, then move on to step #2.
Reflect on small, specific things that you can be grateful for. Some examples could be:
* You're grateful that you have ten minutes for yourself to do this exercise.
* You're grateful for your hot cup of steaming tea.
* You're grateful for your friend helping you out yesterday.
Enjoy the feeling of being in the flow of gratitude - a state where you're feeling really present with yourself and happy.
You can make this into a practice where you journal what you’re grateful for each evening, or each morning. The more you practice gratitude, the more you will see to be grateful for.
A client that I (Ursa) worked with recently, I’ll call her Jane, has really been working on her self-care. She has been taking a little break for herself during the day, scheduling special outings for herself weekly, beginning to meditate, and really starting to prioritize herself and her own needs.
She has been reading before bed instead of spending time on social media on her phone, and is feeling so much better about herself. She now has the capacity to be kind and patient to her child in the evening because she’s been refilling her own cup during the day. She’s not feeling guilty about her self-care because she can see how much it’s helping her be the person she wants to be. She is grateful for those little opportunities that she has to take care of herself.
Jane and her mom, however, have a vicious cycle that takes place in their lives. It’s been going on forever and is one of the major stressors in Jane’s life. Her mom will frequently pick a fight with her, and it always escalates into a nasty argument that leaves Jane feeling guilty about the things that she says.
However, since Jane has been working on ramping up her self care practices and feeling much more appreciative of herself, she has been able to not engage in the negative cycle. Her mom tries to engage her in an argument, and Jane is able to say no and to not respond in anger, and when necessary, removes herself from the situation, without drama, just simply not engaging. She is able to see that her value isn’t dependent on what her mom is doing or what her mom may be saying about her. She doesn’t feel the need to attack her mom in return to her mom’s provocation. She doesn’t need to defend herself, she can be strong and solid within who she knows she actually is.
How do you feel about gratitude? Do you look to others to validate you? Do you feel good about yourself? Do you accept and value yourself?
If you’re looking for some help in these areas, check out The Radiant Woman 101 course.
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