Thursday, November 19, 2015

Gratitude and Positivity

It's funny to me as I sit here writing this, because it's coming up on Thanksgiving and I am writing a post about gratitude.  In my head, I never want to be trite, and this seems to lend itself toward that, but I promise this is not a Thanksgiving post.  Over the last few days, I've found myself feeling grateful for the job that I have and for the wonderful people I have encountered doing it.  I started off the year in a dark place and felt stuck. I was sure nothing was ever going to change or get better.  I could not have imagined feeling the way I do now.  I am so thankful for having had the opportunities I have that have allowed me to reconnect with my love for counseling and for the people I have the honor to serve.

Does my life still have struggles? Sure.  Those are always present in life, I think. Certainly, it's better when they don't all pile on at once. It seems, though, that when we can find an anchor, struggles are easier to bear.  This experience has served to remind me that nothing stays the same and that time, indeed, does give some grace.

So often, particularly when people are depressed or have a history of severe pain and hurt, things feel fixed -- not repaired, but stuck.  Studies show that, when we are depressed or overwhelmed, our creativity decreases.  I take this to mean that we literally cannot imagine the possibility of change. Sometimes, I guess, we need others to hold on to that hope and belief for us. I have been fortunate in having supports who have helped me in that way before and continue to do so as I need it.

One of the aspects of my work that I feel is sacred is holding onto hope when my clients cannot hold it for themselves.  Hope is more than a wish.  We can wish for anything: a million dollars, a unicorn, Prince Charming, etc.  Hope involves actual belief that something can happen.  It may be difficult, it may be a long time coming, but it is possible.  Many times, clients come to me feeling hopeless. They are in pain, feeling overwhelmed, and afraid that the pain that they have will never stop.  I try to be an anchor for them to create a safe place for them to rest and grow until they can hold hope for themselves.

Sometimes hope can build from new perspectives. Focusing on steps taken rather than those left to take can foster a sense of progress and capacity. Identifying positive choices and aspects of self can help build self-confidence and self-trust.  Meditating on those things for which we are grateful can help us focus more on the positive aspects of life and not just those that do not work.  I think we need to be honest with ourselves, but that involves not just acknowledging our weaknesses, failures, and losses, but also our strengths, courage, and potential.  For a balanced picture, we need to look at both.

I wonder what you have done well today.  I wonder what little gifts there may be in yourself or your life that you are not seeing. Take a moment and look around you and inside you. Is there something to be thankful for? Give yourself permission to be grateful or glad or proud of yourself. All of those help to create hope. If you are having trouble with that, I hope you will find me and allow me to hold it for you until you are able to do so yourself.  Thank you for taking this time with me.

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