I saw a certificate on a friend's desk that started out as "Abundant Gratitude to..." and it inspired me to write today's blog.
It is so easy when we have been victims of abuse and addiction to either forget or forsake gratitude. Why should we be grateful? would be an easy question. What in the world is there possibly for me to be grateful for? To heck with those of you who think in terms of gratitude, was my philosophy.
Growing up I didn't find much to be grateful for. All I could focus on was surviving, existing from one day to the next. I was never sure which mother I was coming home to, was never sure what my father's mood would be coming home from work. I walked on tippy toes on a bed of eggshells my entire childhood. Fear was the dominant emotion. Would I do something wrong that would result in punishment? Would I be cut to the quick by my father's sarcasm? It took everything I had sometimes to come to the dinner table and be near my family, and I ate as quickly as I could so I could be done with it and retreat back into my bedroom, my sanctuary.
What was there to be grateful for in a father that gave gifts like horses, only to take them away without warning or reason? (There's nothing like coming home from junior high school earlier than your father thought you would and seeing your horse being loaded into a stranger's van). Or the day my guinea pigs disappeared, all 'going to a nice home' as my father put it. Yes, this from the man who loved to trap squirrels in our backyard and then drown them in large trash cans still in the trap. To this day I can still see their anguish and hear their piteous cries. Is it any wonder I wonder to this day what happened to my pets?
Why should I be grateful for this?
Why should I be grateful for a father who moved us to an upscale neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley, bought a Mercedes for cash in 1978, yet dressed me in my brother's hand-me-down Sears toughskins in a neighborhood of Sassoon and Jordache? Let's not even talk about 'floods' for pants and a dorky haircut. Again, why should I be grateful?
This was how I lived my life for a very long time-----angry and ungrateful; resentful of what others had. Not even the physical things they had, their 'stuff'. I was angry and resentful that I didn't have parents who would come to my school play, who would encourage me in a spelling bee, who would show the world they loved me. Nope, that was not to be.
So I grew up as a very angry adult. And anger, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, is a very acidic emotion, eating up your soul from the inside-out. It is much like high blood pressure, a silent killer. You don't know how much damage has occured until sometimes, unfortunately, it is too late.
So what do you do? How do you pull yourself out of anger and into happiness?
Well, one thing I can say from experience, it doesn't happen overnight. I have yet to see a fairy godmother or angel come down and take away all my anger in one fell swoop. But, in an odd way, I am really glad it didn't happen that way.
What?!?!?!? Are you nuts? Why wouldn't you want all that pain and anger gone instantly????
Well, what I have learned is that anger is a shield, a very effective tough outer shell that can protect your fragile self from the outside world. If you take that shell off all at once, you would collapse. So the shell of anger has to be healed a little at a time, as much as you can handle at one time. And how do you do that?
I have mentioned forgiveness as a very powerful healing tool in past blogs. Another amazing tool in your spiritual warrior's bag is gratitude. Yes, gratitude.
You might not be able to be grateful at first. That's understandable. Start small. Be grateful that you are alive. Be grateful that you have eyesight and can read this blog. Be grateful that you have access to the amazing invention called the internet, where you can be halfway around the world and reading this blog that originated from California.
Be grateful for chocolate, or vanilla, or strawberries. Be grateful for funny kittend and puppies. Be grateful that the sun is shining and the sky is blue.
Now, is this going to seem a little hokey and Pollyanna at first? You bet it is. It's going to seem stupid and contrived and embarrassing. Do it anyway. What do you have to lose? Oh yeah, that's right. Anger. Well, do you want to keep feeling this anger? If you don't try being a little hokey.
I read somewhere that you should try to find 6 new things every day to be grateful for. I got a little spiral book and wrote 1 through 6 in each page, and every day tried to find something to be grateful for. Some days, let me tell you, it was hard to find anything to be grateful for. I have to admit, those days I cheated and re-used past gratitudes.
What you are going to find is that as you find small things to be grateful for, your world will open up and you will find bigger things to be grateful for. And then when you find larger things to be grateful for, your anger will not be able to exist as easily in your soul. Gratitude is a much stronger emotion than anger. Now, it may not be as strong 'physically' in your body, but emotionally and spiritually it is a much happier place to live in. And it can crowd out anger and resentment if you will only let it.
And at some point in your life, if you keep practicing gratitude, you might run across a certificate on a friend's desk that says "abundant gratitude" and it will hit you the way it did me.
I have learned to live in abundance, and gratitude. Will what happened to me ever change? Nope. But I can make a decision RIGHT NOW, today, to be grateful. And the more abundant my gratitude, the more abundant my life.
I know, it sounds hokey. But what you're doing right now isn't working anyway, is it? That's why my blog 'sings' to you...... try being hokey, learn to be grateful, and find happiness.
I hope my words have inspired you and healed you. Please pass this forward to someone you know who needs to read this....or to someone who loves you who supports you.