Post updated June 6th, 2020
What is the definition of gratitude?
Gratitude is the emotion of being thankful. If we are thankful, we appreciate and are in connection with the thing we are grateful for. This can be something outside ourselves, like the amazing redwoods in the picture above. Or it can be for an aspect of ourselves.
When we are not in the emotion of gratitude, we may be in a more disconnected and negative emotional state. As we clean up our more difficult inner voices, we are opening the path to experiencing more gratitude. Developing the practice of gratitude will change our lives and the world.
Clearing space for gratitude
I had a session with one of my favorite healers, Ellen Kaufman Dosick (www.soulmemorydiscovery.com) the other day – mainly because I wanted to ‘drop’ an aspect of myself that was dragging me down and step into a more empowered place. I was finding myself getting upset about some events and situations that were obviously not about the thing itself but represented both old hurts I needed to release and places where I needed to grow. Some old and I thought ‘retired’ voices re-emerged. These voices blocked me from experiencing gratitude.
Negative or old voices
When we get triggered ‘old voices’ can show up in our heads. These voices often stop us from appreciation, gratitude and thankfulness. They are not part of the practice of gratitude. Among other things, these voices may say things like:
- No matter what I do, it doesn’t matter.
- I’m not important.
- Nobody cares about me.
What are some of your ‘old voices?’
Our deep needs
Sometimes the limitations or perceived limitations of others and ourselves hurt us. Often these voices are triggered by our disappointment and reflect our deep longing for love. Underneath those disappointments are our very real needs to feel that we matter:
- What I do makes a difference and is noticed.
- I matter.
- I am cared about.
Can you find what you long for that is under your ‘old voice?’
Personally, I don’t want to get stuck in the part of me that gets angry, frustrated, or afraid. I don’t enjoy those feelings. Remember the Charlie Brown character Pig-pen? Everywhere he went he was in a cloud of dirt. Or Joe Btfsplk with a small, dark rain cloud that perpetually hovered over his head.
That is how I feel when I am in a feeling state that is ‘negative.’ Not to put the negative down: we have to experience all of our feelings but sometimes sorting through them is confusing and we can get stuck. Living in these difficult feelings can leave us feeling ‘stained’ like Pig-pen.
Our bigger selves
Essentially what I worked on in that session was stepping out of my small self and into my bigger self. My small self is vulnerable. That part sometimes gets upset, hurt, has trouble with acceptance and struggles. That part needs my kindness and support as all struggling beings need kindness and support.
And at the same time, if I were to be able to step into a bigger perspective, see all that I am, have been, and will be, that new perspective would get me more space. As Ellen said to me, an elephant isn’t afraid of an ant. When you see the largeness of whom you are, those fears and hurts become smaller and more transient. They release their grip. As I find gratitude for myself and my process, I am acknowledging my bigger self and I am becoming bigger. But the process of taking this step requires self-acceptance.
Self-acceptance leads us to gratitude
Self-acceptance and acceptance of other people and situations is an inside job. You cannot make it happen. It takes place when you finally ‘get’ that what is occurring is not anybody’s fault, but is instead the result of our limitations. Acceptance is the opposite of control. When we control – contra, meaning against – we are going against the flow of life, we are swimming upstream. When we accept, we have more space and room inside of ourselves.
Take a moment and ponder:
Who have you been? What have you lived through, learned, accomplished? Can you see the vastness of your past?
Who are you now? What are your talents, wisdom, and capacities? Where does your magnificence reside? Can you see it and feel it?
Who are you becoming? How will you grow into the future? Can you trust that you only have to co-participate with life and that you don’t have to ‘make’ it happen? Can you see that your path will allow you to grow and dance forward into your life?
We are all more than we know. We are more than our conflicts and confusion, more than our struggles and pains.
Using gratitude to change our world
We are all one. When we are not in the practice of gratitude, we may be stuck in our smaller negative messages. We may lose perspective. We may not realize that each of us is valuable and a part of the whole. If we don’t want the best for ourselves and for each of us, we are holding ourselves, others, and the world back.
Our smaller negative voices can cause us to be defensive and self-protective. Those aspects of ourselves often cause us to separate our hearts from others.
Imagine a cell of your body fighting or not cooperating with another cell in your body? That is what cancer looks like. This analogy is true whether we are looking at the ecosystems of our planet, our social constructs that disempower others, or our own interior negative construct.
The practice of gratitude
One way out of the smaller perspective is through the practice of gratitude.
I have been meditating on gratitude – not just the thought of it, but the feeling and experience of it. I am doing this because I decided that gratitude is the feeling place I wish to reside in.
We can choose our attitude even if we cannot control much of what occurs in life. The point of choice is our point of power. This is what we do have control over. Even if we ‘fall’ out of it, we can re-choose it. This means that as we ‘practice,’ we choose it over and over.
To do a simple gratitude meditation, find 5 or 10 minutes alone. Sit down and close your eyes. Think of someone or something you feel grateful for. Focus on your heart. Bring that feeling into your heart. Allow yourself to experience whatever feelings come up for you around gratitude.
In what energy do you wish to reside?
Perhaps you too will make the energy of thank you – gratitude – a choice and guiding principle in your life.
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