Gratitude: Not Just For Them, It's For You Too
This time of year, being thankful is the new trend. Good thing too, because showing gratitude correlates directly with your quality of life. There is a wealth of information describing the benefits you can derive from appreciating life, others and what you have. But what about you? When is the last time you stopped to acknowledge yourself?
All too often we tend to focus on others and forget about ourselves. Yet, maintaining a healthy relationship with ourselves is the key to having one with others. So, this month while you’re expressing your thankfulness for those around you take some time to appreciate yourself as well.
Positive Self Talk
“Are you serious?” “Did you really HAVE to do that?” “Oh my…” We’ve all been there. We all have that one negative voice in our minds that criticizes us. No, hearing this voice doesn’t mean something is terribly wrong with you (trust me, I’m a therapist), it means that you are human. It is easy to fall into the habit of negative self talk, but it is harmful. These constant criticisms take a toll. They can cause anxiety, depression, or an overall sense of sadness.
Practice gratitude for yourself this month by actively focusing on reversing that negativity. Any time you notice a criticism forming in your mind replace it with something positive. You can respond to a dig such as “Are you serious?” with the thought, “Yes, I meant for it to go better and next time I will try harder and learn from this mistake.” The same response works for most negative thoughts. Focus on the learning process and appreciate your efforts no matter the outcome. After enough corrections the negative voice will begin to fade.
You have been giving and giving to those around you. Whether it is in the form of gift purchases for the impending Christmas holiday, support to those you love, or time and energy to your employer, chances are you may be feeling drained. It is also probable that you haven’t been giving generously to yourself.
Take a moment to reflect on the following questions:
- When is the last time you spent an hour alone with no obligations?
- When is the last time you did something to bring you toward one of your goals?
- When is the last time you gave yourself care?
Follow through on caring for yourself by taking time to work on you. Get some quiet time. Read a book. Go to a movie. Eat your favorite meal. Take action toward one of your goals. This will not only make you feel better, it will also revive you. It will give you more energy to show gratitude to those around you. A better you is better for those around you.
You should also practice generosity in your thoughts. Always work from the perception that you had the best intentions in mind. That way when the negative self talk rears its ugly head, you can respond with, “I’m doing the best I can.”
There is nothing wrong with seeking help from those that are available. Think about it, your gratitude is expressed through actions and words to the ones you love. It would be hypocritical for you to get down on yourself for reaching out too.
Show gratitude to yourself through seeking out others who will act and speak in a way that assists you. This can be done by reaching out to a close friend or family member, or talking to a professional.
I have learned how to practice gratitude for myself and through that process I’ve enhanced my ability as a therapist to help others do the same. One of the many things I am grateful for in life is the opportunity to work with you on being the best version of yourself.