My Unconventional Gratitude List

unconventional gratitude list

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.

1. Addiction

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.

2. Comparison

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.

3. Depression

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.

4. Fear

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.

Questions:

  • What are some unconventional things you are grateful for today?
  • What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?
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19 Comments

  1. November 26, 2015 / 7:13 am

    I so understand this–I am thankful for the teaching opportunity of my disease. Am I “happy” that I have it? Well, jury is out on that. But I am thankful for what it has taught me about my life and the people around me.
    Happy Thanksgiving, my friend! I am definitely thankful for YOU.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Thankful Blogiversary Oatmega Bar Giveaway!My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      November 26, 2015 / 9:49 am

      Totally feel you on that. I’m also thankful for you! Hope you have a great turkey day!

    • erinsinsidejob
      November 26, 2015 / 9:50 am

      Aw thanks Megan! You’ve definitely had a lot to go through and your strength is an inspiration!

  2. November 26, 2015 / 8:43 am

    I relate to a lot of this, and I’m so glad you wrote it. I’m unconventionally thankful for my chronic pain problems and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Honestly, it sucks to hurt all the time (shocker, right?). But it has taught me to listen to my body and to take care of myself even when other people aren’t. It has taught me how to do my own thing and be okay with it. Fighting through rough days makes me stronger. The life I’m building makes me grateful that I do choose fight through them; a lot of people with my diagnosis pretty much give up on trying to live relatively normal lives. So, yeah. I hurt and it sucks, but I’m thankful I can look past that and recognize that my situation could be so much worse and that, in fact, it’s pretty good.
    Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday recently posted…Thinking Out Loud: ThankfulMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      November 26, 2015 / 9:52 am

      That’s such a great outlook to have Ellen! I love that you’re able to take a difficult situation and make the best of it. It’s people like you who inspire me on a regular basis 🙂

  3. November 26, 2015 / 10:43 am

    This might very well be my favourite kind of thankfulness post. I fully believe that we learn more from the hard times in life than the happy ones. The latter don’t require any altering in the future while struggles show us where we have lessons to learn still. Thank you for pointing this out.
    While it’s an on-going struggle for me I am in certain ways thankful for my ED. It has helped me see things from a different perspective and shaped me to be who I am today. I can’t turn back time and not get sick so I try to see the silver linings.
    Miss Polkadot recently posted…When in doubt … take a survey.My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      November 26, 2015 / 7:32 pm

      Yup. The only way out is through. That’s so great that you’re able to find that different perspective!

  4. November 26, 2015 / 12:27 pm

    Out of all the Thanksgiving related posts I’ve read today, this one may very well be my favourite. I love that you were able to find the blessings in the curse, so to speak, and that’s exactly how I feel about my eating disorder as well. It’s not something I’d ever want to go through again, but I’m thankful for the experience and all that it’s taught me. I think there are good things to be found in any struggle, even if it takes us a while to be able to see them.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. thinking out loud #158 .My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      November 28, 2015 / 6:59 pm

      Thanks so much Amanda! I love that you’ve been able to turn your struggles into something so amazing (and delicious) to share with the world!

  5. November 26, 2015 / 1:10 pm

    Ohhh how I love your thoughts/writing/blog/errythang. It’s so easy to say (and I just said it on FB/IG) “I’m thankful for family/friends/blah blah blah”. The normal stuff. It’s much harder to think of the unconventional things. I’m thankful for failures and setbacks which have pushed me harder to get to where I am today. I’m thankful for a family member’s alcoholism, which keeps me grounded and has educated me.
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…5 Bodyweight Workouts You Should TryMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      November 28, 2015 / 7:01 pm

      Aw thanks Jess! It’s important to be thankful for family and friends too 🙂

  6. November 26, 2015 / 8:23 pm

    I love your spin on a list of things to be thankful for. We can learn so much from the things that are hard and its important to find those lessons. Thank you for posting with so much openness honesty and truth.
    Sandra Laflamme recently posted…Holiday Gift Guide for Runners and TriathletesMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      November 28, 2015 / 6:56 pm

      Thanks so much Petra!

  7. November 29, 2015 / 7:47 am

    I absolutely love this. I recently had a change a heart about comparison as well. I actually wrote a whole post on it called The Argument for Comparison. Instead of viewing it as a negative and something that has only served to bring me down, I’ve chosen to reframe that and see the good that can come from it. I’m trying to do that with a lot of things in my life. As for the other things you mention in this post, I can relate to a lot of those struggles as well. Of course they are different as we all have different experiences and life paths, but that same themes run true throughout. I am not to the level of acceptance and gratefulness that you are yet, but I am consistently working everyday to start to APPRECIATE the obstacles I face rather than dwell on them. Thank you for your insight as always.
    Kaila@HealthyHelperBlog recently posted…Link Love: November 2015My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      November 29, 2015 / 3:39 pm

      Thanks Kaila! I will check that post out! My acceptance varies sometimes, but for the most part I can accept everything and recall what I’ve learned from it. Glad you’re able to see some of the positives!

  8. December 15, 2015 / 8:13 am

    A BADLY BROKEN HEART

    I am grateful for my once badly broken heart. I went through separation and divorce. It was not ugly. It was painful and the timing was really bad (when is it ever good for bad happenings?).
    While I am not friends with my ex-wife, I now see that she was also hurting at that time. I learned that I was not the emotionally strongest man she could have met and I have worked on this over the past 5 years.
    Now I enjoy my own company more than I ever have and when I meet that special someone, I know she will enjoy my company too.

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 17, 2015 / 10:42 pm

      I’m glad you’ve been able to learn from the things that have happened in the past instead of letting them overwhelm you 🙂

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