When I sat down to write this post I typed and erased more than six introductions. I looked up blog prompt ideas, I listened to Ted Talk after Ted Talk wanting so badly to spark my creativity and passion. And each and every time I deleted what I had written. I noticed I continued to steer towards the pandemic and the negative feelings associated with it. I felt increasingly sad and anxious. I think it is safe to say that we have all seen, read and heard enough about coronavirus. So, I stopped. I erased for the last time and I used mindfulness to refocus.
I noticed that when I sat back down to write the first thing that came to mind was gratitude. At one point in my recovery journey I had been given an assignment to write a gratitude list every day. But over time I grew away from this practice as the busyness of life and other responsibilities seemed to fill more of my time. As a result, when the coronavirus changed my daily life in a drastic way, the negative emotions were unbearable and without a tool to combat them, they took over.
Through recovery I have learned how to ask for help when I need it, and I have taken advantage of that in difficult times and situations. I’m not sure why I felt like this time was different than any of those others, but I did not immediately open up about this. I sat in the uncomfortable feelings and in turn felt some intense self-inflicted pain.
As usual, once the pain was great enough, I chose to do something about it. I opened up in a conversation with my sponsor and got honest about what I was feeling, how I was living and how unhappy I had become. Her simple solution was for me to start writing gratitude lists again.
Okay. I agreed to do it, because at that point I was willing to do anything to feel better. But I honestly thought “how is this going to change my circumstances, how is this going to reduce my anxiety and fears…” I didn’t believe that something as simple as writing a list was going to reduce these overwhelming feelings that consumed me on a daily basis.
A week into the practice this is what I have learned: I was reminded that a huge part of recovery is changing our perspective; that what I choose to feed is what I will continue to sow. What I allow will continue. That feelings are not permanent. And that every experience I have is influenced by my attitude and perspective in that moment.
In order to write my gratitude list, I must consciously focus on the positives in my life. And I often need to reframe my perspective to view the difficulties as an opportunity for growth. I change the lens through which I see my world.
My gratitude list today:
- I am blessed to have a job where I can work remotely. And today I am able to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful weather, rather than working in an office with no windows.
- I am surrounded by people who care about my well-being and take time out of their busy day to check in to see how I am doing.
- Through my recovery process I have been gifted a sense of awareness which helps me to remain patient with my little boy when he is struggling with these BIG feelings and changes.
- I have learned, through recovery, that acceptance is key. When I am able to accept that I have no control over the current situation, I am better able to make the best of it.
- Because of recovery I might be better equipped or prepared to deal with everything we are facing now.
Just the process of writing down things I am grateful for changes the way I feel, no matter how negative or heavy. I can start feeling overwhelmed by fear and anxiety. And I always finish feeling lighter and more optimistic.
Gratitude lists are proven to enhance empathy and reduce aggression. They can improve sleep, physical and psychological health. They increase self-esteem and mental strength. They help us develop our personality, and decrease materialism. And I am sure the list goes on.
The point I am trying to make, is I sat down to write this post and was automatically pulled toward all of the unfavorable, pessimistic feelings. It was so easy for me to write gloomy sentence after sentence. And when I challenged myself to focus on the beneficial, constructive side I hit a wall. And the solution to that has been to find some gratitude; to be mindful and centered in gratitude. When I am conscious of all the blessings, I have to be grateful for, it is a lot more difficult to be distracted by pessimism.
So, I challenge you to start your own gratitude lists and to see how they change your life.