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Gratitude Attitude

Trigger Warning – mention of trauma and assault, no details

When my mom and I were discussing future blogs, we decided November should be focused on gratitude. I know it’s not very original. However, gratitude is a topic we discuss frequently throughout the year, not just around Thanksgiving. It’s a topic I personally reflect on a lot. I have come to realize that gratitude is an attitude. It can come and go as life serves different experiences. It also takes work to maintain an attitude of gratitude.

A few years ago I had a significant trauma. I was assaulted. It completely threw my life upside down in every way possible. Beyond the physical pain, there was also the associated mental and emotional trauma. There was a significant spiritual toll as well. I entered the world of PTSD and through that lens was navigating an inner war with my intuition and spiritual guides. This can be a very dark place at times.

Interestingly, the most difficult expression or emotion I was struggling with was to feel and express gratitude. Prior to my assault, gratitude came easily. I can honestly say, that up until the assault, I spent the majority of my days in a place of gratitude. Gratitude for spirit, life, others, myself, etc. After the assault though, I couldn’t even muster it for someone who blessed me when I sneezed.

My stomach literally ached if I tried to be grateful or thought about gratitude.

This response made total sense; but at the same time it caused a perplexing internal battle. It felt like I was rebelling against all that I was prior to the assault, as if the old thankful me was the one to blame for this trauma. I just couldn’t find anything to be grateful for anywhere in my life. Even when someone clearly helped me, I had a difficult time saying, “Thank you.”

I wanted gratitude back in my life so badly. It was a huge part of my positive outlook and ability to support others through their healing journeys.

Something that had come so natural to me my entire life, I now had to teach myself anew.

I started out small. I found little things like my coffee order being right or my hair cooperating with me to say thank you for. I wrote myself little post it notes and had them on my mirror, in my journals, planners and throughout my writings. The notes read, “Find something to be thankful for, no matter how small.” When I was in the car I would say “thank you” out loud just to hear myself say it.

It wasn’t easy; sometimes it was physically painful, but I persevered because I knew my world is brighter with a lens of gratitude. My goal was to fake it until I made it! Little by little it got easier and gratitude started to sneak its way back into my life.

From the moment the assault happened I knew intuitively my healing would be a process. I tried not to shame myself or even be too hard on myself. I know from previous healing work and working with clients that shame and guilt can add years and weight to the healing journey. I gave myself the grace and time to heal, and along the way I gradually returned to place of natural gratitude.

So what did I learn from this?

Just like healing, gratitude is an ever-evolving journey. Gratitude is an Attitude, until it’s not, and then it’s just a way of life…again.


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