Giving Thanks for What is Good

When we have “bad things” going on in our lives, the last thing that occurs to us is to look for the good.  Typically, the pain, the loss, the trauma or whatever else is going on becomes the center of our focus.

For many, the Holidays are tough times.  You may find yourself alone, separated from family, estranged from a loved one, and feeling there is nothing to celebrate.  Although I am not encouraging celebration, I am encouraging looking for what is still standing in your life, and focus your attention there.

After a hurricane or a fire, one must assess the damages and decide if their home or any of the possessions can be saved or if they need to start over, from the ground up.

Many of us find ourselves in “start over” mode and must let go of what has been destroyed in the fire, or wiped out by the hurricane.  The most difficult part is the letting go.  We must learn to “let go” of the life we were living prior to the “disaster.”  That life is no longer available to us.  This is natures way of telling us, it is time to rebuild.

Nature is a great teacher.  After a forest fire, from the charred ground, little sprouts of life come up and after a time the forest completely regenerates itself.  We all have the same ability to regenerate.  It doesn’t matter how deep the destruction, regeneration is possible for you.

When you walk into the charred forest and see the little green shoot, sprouting upward towards the sun, for a moment, your eyes might go from all the black ashen earth to the little patch of green.  The focus is on the new life, and not on the charred earth.

If we are to be positive in our life, we need to develop the “green sprout” attitude.  Look for the little spark of life that is shooting through the earth.  Look for the small blessings.

It has been proven that those who practice gratitude heal much more quickly from emotional trauma, loss and heart break.

Many people I work with have suffered a great deal of loss.  Whether that loss is a significant other, a social group, one’s siblings, parents or children, a job, or a home, it can be painfully devastating.  We are often left focusing on the loss.

The loss I speak of is not necessarily through death but through personality disorders like narcissism where one must ultimately choose to distance themselves or cut off from toxic and dysfunctional systems.

Letting go of certain relationships can be very challenging and one can be left focusing and dwelling on the loss.   The tendency is to focus on what is bad rather than what is good.  The path to healing involves finding the beauty that still remains in your life.  Start with yourself.  You may not feel very beautiful right now, but I want for you to consider the strength and the courage that it has taken you to let go of what is not working in your life in order to embrace a life that is filled with love, honor, respect, consideration, and a true sense of family.

Often there is a time between lives where one must be willing to sit in the emptiness, the loneliness, and the silence.  This is the time, before the new shoot sprouts forth.  It is the time before one finds his or her new “family of choice,” or new partner, or new job or new home, or whatever is waiting to come into the vacuum that has been created after something leaves your life.

Nature abhors a vacuum.  Aristotle observed that nature requires every space to be filled with something.  But that something is often a part of ourselves that we have cut off or disconnected from.  This idea that we need to go “out there” to find what is missing “in here” is a codependent idea.  We must begin with finding our own wholeness.  If we find ourselves feeling lost, alone, and disconnected, we may need to fill that missing piece within ourselves with the parts of ourselves that have gone missing.  This is what it means to become whole.

Many people try to get their needs met from dysfunctional systems. When we become awake and aware enough to realize that we will never be able to get what we want or need from a dysfunctional system, we begin to look elsewhere; beginning with our selves.

We can’t control how others treat us, and we can’t control how others see us, but we can control how we react or respond to the poor treatment coming from the dysfunctional system.  We can refuse to be the scapegoat, the punching bag or the one who is always being perceived as being the “problem.”  We can step out of those roles, which may mean that we step out of those systems altogether.

Often a scapegoat with post traumatic stress disorder, can be so devastated as a result of the crazy making hostility of a narcissist or borderline and his or her entourage, that the scapegoat considers taking his or her own life.  I see this frequently in my work.  A client will call and say “I don’t want to be here anymore.  I want to end my life.”  My response is always the same.  “I understand how you would feel that way, this is very painful, however please don’t give that person the power to take your life from you.”  Some of my clients have young children at home, and there is nothing worse than having a parent who commits suicide.  This is the ultimate “abandonment” for a child.

If you have young children, let your children be what you give thanks for.  They are innocent, and they need you to be strong and healthy.  So, make this your goal!  “I am grateful for my children.”

If you have a good job and/or a roof over your head, be grateful for this.

If you have your physical health, be grateful for this.

If you have your mental health, be grateful for this.

If you have people in your life who love you, be grateful for this.  Even if it is just one person.

Focusing on what is “good” takes the focus off the issues that are creating pain for you.  I’m not saying that you want to avoid feeling your feelings or focusing on your healing, but try to focus on your “blessings” rather than the dysfunctional actions and behavior of a dysfunctional individual or group of individuals.

Never let anyone tell you who you are!  You are the only one who has walked in your shoes and had the experiences you have had.  Nobody else has the power to define you or judge you.  Who you are is only for you to decide.  You know where your heart is.  You know your own capacity to love and care about others.  You know where your integrity is.  You know your own level of honesty.

When people judge you or find fault with you, they are projecting their own disowned characteristics onto you.  “I don’t want to look at my own character flaws, my own dishonesty,  my fear, my insecurity, jealousy, or lack of integrity, so I am going to make this about you.”

When people focus negatively on you, it is your job to inform yourself that his is not about you at all.   What is about you, is how you feel inside, and the judgments and interpretations you are making about why people treat you the way they do.  Your work is to focus on healing and loving yourself.  How people treat you says a lot more about them then it does about you.

If you consider that what you focus on is what will grow, the more you focus on the sprouts shooting up through the charred earth, the more they will grow and the more sprouts you will see.  Soon the sprouts will be a whole new forest.

Life has a way of bringing us more of what we are grateful for.  So count your blessings and watch more blessings come into your life.

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