In the spirit of Thanksgiving and taking a look at what we are grateful for this year, I want to take some time today to share my unconventional gratitude list.
It’s easy to sit down and list out things like friends, family, shelter, etc., but are you able to find positives and reasons to be thankful in those times that proved more difficult for you? The times when you failed or struggled? Learning to escape the role of a victim requires you to be able to view life events with a different perspective. Along with the obvious things to be thankful for in your life, take some time today to see if you can find a way to be grateful for both the bad and good in this past year.
It wasn’t until this past year that I’ve finally been able to be grateful for my addiction. In the beginning, I spent a lot of time pointing fingers, rationalizing, and asking “why me?” It wasn’t until I decided to take responsibility and ask myself how I could turn this into a positive that I was able to start fully embracing it. I decided to spend part of my time reaching out to communities to show them that the stigma surrounding addiction needs to be broken and to educate others on what addiction actually entails.
Recovery caused me to really focus on who I was as a person and correct a lot of maladaptive behaviors that I wasn’t even aware of in the beginning. I’ve learned to become my own person and continuing to focus on the importance of sharing with others is one more reason to keep me on the recovery side of the street.
I know I spend a lot of time talking about the dangers of comparison, and I stand by that. What I’m thankful for is that through comparing for so long, I’ve reached a place (most of the time) when comparison exhausts me and I’ve simply stopped doing it. I know I’ve stopped growing and I’m not going to be 5’9”. My legs will never be long and slim. I’m never going to be super bubbly and full of energy at all times. Not everyone is going to like me. I’m glad I seem to have moved past that phase and now have so much time to focus on being the best version of ME that I can be.
Hopefully it doesn’t take you as many years as me to realize that you are perfect just the way you are.
Man. This one is a doozy. This past year was ROUGH. It’s like the saying that you can’t understand joy without sadness or pain without love. Learning that I suffer from depression is a relief and something to be grateful for in itself because I finally had a reason, but even the whole process and coming out of it taught me a lot. I know what it feels like when I’m behaving like myself and now I know when there is something wrong. If normal household things require me talking myself up to do them for an hour, there may be a problem. If I start feeling like everything is out of control or even feeling nothing at all, then I need to talk to someone.
It has been said that fear is the greatest motivator. As much as I hate feeling fear, it usually precedes some of my greatest accomplishments. It’s the feeling we get before we try something new, take a risk, or realize that failure is an option on the table. The thing is, you’ll never know unless you try. Failure is not the end of the world, it just requires you to get back up and try again.
Every time that I’ve had an idea that brings fear along with it, I’ve known that it’s something that I should probably do. I’m stepping outside my comfort zone and putting myself on the line. Many of those steps have created great opportunities. Some steps have faltered, but I’ve walked away with more information than I did before I started. I’m able to learn from my mistakes and make a more educated decision going forward.
5. Marriage Issues
Guys, marriage is hard. I remember hearing that before I was inducted into the club, but I never really knew what it meant. Dealing with depression and possible separation this summer didn’t leave a lot of room on my plate for much else, but now that things seem to be going better, I can reflect and realize what I took away from that time.
I learned how to communicate better. I learned, once again, that I am only responsible for myself, my actions, and my feelings. I grew up. I realized that marriage is not like every high school or even college relationship that I’ve had. It takes two people who are committed to creating a life together for anything to really work.
6. Negative Feedback
The perfectionist in me still cringes and feels like I’ve been punched in the stomach when I receive negative feedback. Whenever I would receive negative comments (the internet is a mean, mean place) or suggestions for improvement, my first reaction was to assume I was a failure and that I would never be good at anything. Extreme, I know, but welcome to the way I’ve lived my life for decades.
I’m getting better at accepting negative feedback, but there’s still that extra step I have to go through to get to the understanding that either a) some people are mean or b) they just want to see me succeed. Performance reviews at work have been really helpful because they’ve shown me where I need to improve in order to be the best instructor I can. Writing edits are great because sometimes another person is able to see what I can’t. I’m not perfect and I’m growing every day, so anyone who wants to help me in that process is an asset.
Thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud.
- What are some unconventional things you are grateful for today?
- What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?