We've all heard the importance of being grateful. We've all been taught to write in a gratitude journal everyday or keep a running list of things we're grateful for. But when we're really struggling with life altering challenges, like divorce, these types of gratitude practices can fall flat. They either feel dismissive of our pain and heartache or they feel like a shaming tactic under the guise of a 'silver lining'.
In this episode I talk about using gratitude as a way to grow mighty by allowing yourself the space you need to feel the pain of your challenge and using gratitude as a positive reappraisal. There are two gratitude practices that no one else is talking about and I share them with you along with examples.
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If you're going through a divorce or are divorced, odds are you've gone through something traumatic. It may show up in how you're constantly second guessing yourself. It may show up in how you feel triggered by even the smallest things. It may show up in never feeling secure in your emotions, always feeling like they are out of control. It may show up in your ability to believe that you're worthy, lovable or capable of living a life on your own. If any of these are resonant with you, then I invite you to schedule your free consult with me and we'll talk about what may be helpful to you to get you through the trauma and begin to heal. Schedule your free consult by clicking here.
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Full Episode Transcript:
I’m Karin Nelson and you’re listening to Becoming You Again episode number 104.
Welcome to becoming You Again. The podcast to help you with your mental and emotional wellbeing during and after divorce. This is where you learn to overcome the trauma of your divorce by reconnecting with yourself, creating lasting emotional resilience and living a truly independent life so your life will be even better than when you were married. I’m your host Karin Nelson.
Hello my friends. Welcome back to the podcast I am so glad that you are here. Today I just want to jump right into the topic because it is on growing mighty with gratitude and entitled the podcast this way for two reasons. The first reason is it is an homage to the Nagoski sisters and the last or second last chapter of the book, Burnout, which I talk about literally all the time on this podcast for you probably get sick of me talking about how much I love this book but there is a chapter at the end where they spend a little bit of time talking about gratitude and how it can kind of help you grow mighty and what I really love about this part of the book is they give the most beautiful practices of gratitude that iMacs are going to be sharing with you today on the podcast but I think it is really important for me to share these because when I read these gratitude practices they were new to me. They weren’t just the same old sit down, keep a gratitude journal, think about things that you are grateful for, all of that kind of stuff, they were different. And I really like the way they are different because they kind of put a different twist on gratitude that I hadn’t ever thought about before and I want to present them to you today in this podcast.
In the second reason is because sometimes when we are going through difficult things like a divorce for instance or something else that is challenging in our lives and then we tell other people that we are struggling, often the response that we get is kind of like, oh well you should just be grateful for what you have. Or yeah but it could just be so much worse. Maybe try practicing being grateful like keep a gratitude journal or something. I’ve heard those are helpful. I believe, I want to believe anyway that the intention behind these words is meant to be helpful. Right? I don’t think people are coming in telling us these things were giving us this advice coming from a mean-spirited intention. But when we are in the midst of struggle and challenge and chaos that kind of advice doesn’t always feel helpful. It kind of actually feels shamey. It almost kind of feels like having a challenge is off limits to us when we have to think about in this other way. It is almost like we are shaming ourselves or we are blaming ourselves for the challenge or for recognizing the challenge or for feeling upset or angry or hurt or betrayed or struggling with the challenge. Because it is like these comments make us feel like we are not supposed to feel that way we should just get over it and move on or something like that. I am not exactly sure what we feel, I am just trying to describe what I have felt sometimes when someone has given me that advice and sometimes what my clients feel. You know what they are sharing their heart and their soul and the tough things that they are going through and it is kind of shot back as like what you should just be grateful. Like look at what you are grateful for. There is so much to be grateful for here and the kind of feels like dismissive in a way. And so I really liked the title of growing mighty with gratitude because I wanted this podcast to hopefully be empowering to you as you go through your challenges. As you go through your divorce. As you go through the months of struggle and rebuilding and healing and all of the things that go into moving on from your divorce by giving yourself permission to be grateful for the good things that you have while at the same time holding space for all of the difficult things that you are struggling with. For all of the challenges that you are having. And not making yourself a wrong for feeling that way or going through those things or recognizing that they are hard.
I don’t want you to use gratitude as a means of forgetting about your problems or diminishing what you are going through. But rather I would love for you if the feels good to you, to use gratitude as a positive reappraisal of things. Use it as a growth to wool rather than a shaming tactic under the guise of look at the silver lining. Okay. So just keep that in mind as we go through and of course with everything that I teach I am just offering you tools that have helped me. That I have learned from. That I have grown from. Tools that I use with my clients. And if something feels right, great I would love for you to take it and run with it and amazing. Practice it in your life. And if it doesn’t feel right. If it is not resonant with you in some way then just leave it behind. Of course nothing that I teach is ever like the way and you have to do it this way or otherwise you will never heal or you will never move on. That is never the case. There are so many different ways and each person is individual and unique and some things work for some people and other things don’t. So don’t feel like everything I teach has to be implemented and is going to work for you. It may or it may not and only you will know.
How can it be possible that we grow mighty with gratitude? There are two gratitude practices, like I mentioned before that the Nagoski sister’s, Emily and Amelia talk about in their book. And the first one is as they have termed, the short term fix. And this is where you are going to focus your gratitude on not what you have which is what we normally are taught. Right? Look around the grateful for what you have. Name things that you have. Write a grateful journal about the things that you have in your life that you are so grateful for. That is how we are taught to be grateful and there is nothing wrong with that. If that works for you keep doing it. Again if that works for you. Leave the rest behind.
But for this one specifically rather than looking at what you have, the focus is to be on who you have. So think of some people in your life at any moment in your life who has helped you. And as Fred Rogers, you know Mr. Rogers, we all love him. I remember watching his show when I was a child and he was such a sweet, kind, loving soul. He explained this in such a beautiful way where he said look for people who have helped you “love the good that grows within you.” It is such a beautiful way of putting it and so I am probably going to refer to that a couple of times throughout this podcast. But think of people throughout moments in your life who have helped you love the good that grows within you.
I was watching the Oscars the other day and this exact thing stood out to me especially with one speech in particular. It was actually a speech for two winners because they were nominated together. It was the two Daniels. I probably should have looked up their last names before this podcast but I didn’t. They were nominated for the Best Directing category and they won together as a team for their movie, Everything, Everywhere, All At Once. Just to give a little shout out to this movie. Please watch it. It is beautiful and amazing and fun and such a great beautiful story of love and acceptance. And it is really, really great. So if you have not watched it. You should. But I digress like I like to do on this podcast sometimes.
But both Daniels came up on stage and one of the Daniels went first and he did this exact thing and he said I want to thank my teachers who have been in my corner you know as I was growing up and they were all public school teachers for the most part and it is really supported me and helped me to continue to be who I am and grow into the person that I have become. And then the second Daniel took his turn and he basically said the same thing. He professed his gratitude for his mom and other people but mostly his mom who helped as he said, “protect his inner storyteller as a child” which is such a beautiful way of putting it. I think this is such a great practice of having gratitude for your life and the things that have shaped your life, and by things I am actually referring to people. The people who have helped shape you and he withheld your uniqueness and the special amazing things about you in such a loving beautiful way. That have helped you to grow and expand that part of you.
So think about that. Maybe make a list. Who do you have in your life that has helped you love the good that grows within you? Write down some names. Think about growing up in your life right now or when you were in college or when you were a teenager, whoever they are right on their names. And then, and this is kind of the key here, is you either say their names out loud to yourself and that is a beautiful practice in and of itself, just recognition of it. Right. That they are a part of your life and they have helped you to grow and expand. Or you can think them in person or write them a letter or maybe text to them or however you want to do it if this is one of the practices you want to adopt. It feels so good to first of all recognize that there are people out there who love you and want to help you grow into who you are and become more of your amazingness. But then also it is like thanking them in a way for allowing you to be calm the person that you are another such a beautiful thing.
And then the second gratitude practice that the sisters talk about in their book they have termed the long-term gratitude lifter. And this one is more of her practice that works best over like a certain amount of time. Every day where you kind of follow a few steps in a written sort of practice. And you might want to do this, like I think in the book one of the sisters, I can’t remember which one did it every day for three weeks or something like that just to get into the habit of recognizing things in your life that you can be grateful for. But you can do whatever works for you. You get to decide how long, how often, all that stuff.
So this is how the practice goes. At the end of each day, or at the end of the day you take kind of an appraisal of your day and you think of something that happened in your day that you are grateful for. And then the first step if you want to write down the title of that event. So if you had to give that circumstance, that event, that situation the title, what would it be. So for example when I did this one of my titles was “Watching the sweet birds build their home outside my window.” Yours might sound something like, “Took a shower today” or “Had a conversation with my ex without feeling animosity toward him” or something else. Like literally anything during the data you are grateful for and then you just come up with a title like if you were writing a newspaper article or the chapter of a book. You would write down the title and then there you go.
And then the next step is you want to write all about the experience. You want to describe what happened including things that were done, things that were said, things that were said by you, things that were said by other people. Just explain the experience out on paper. And then the next thing you want to do is you want to describe how it made you feel while it was happening and describe how it is making you feel now as you are writing about it, as you are thinking about that experience.
And then the last thing is you want to explain how this thing, how this event came to be. What were the circumstances that led up to creating this moment in your life?
So for me, for my example going back to watching the sweet birds build their home outside my window. Basically I was sitting in my office at my desk and my office has French doors on two sides, one set of the French doors I can see through the living room out the very front window of my house where there are two trees that have just the sweetest little family of birds that live in these trees. And I love during my day when I can sit and watch and see these birds hopping back and forth and bringing food home to their family and playing. It is just the sweetest, most peaceful, awe-inspiring moment. And as I watch them living their life in such simplicity and beauty and in the natural world it brings so much joy to me and it feels so good. I am just so awe-inspired by their love. Their simplicity. Their beauty. And this snapshot that I get to experience of watching them kind of live their life without them even knowing that I am there watching in such a special, unique way.
In the moment I feel awe for a few seconds and I feel joy and I get a smile on my face. And as I am telling you this I am getting the same feeling. I have this giant smile on my face and I feel warm and open and it is just such a beautiful thing that I get to experience that I am truly grateful for.
The way that this event comes to be during my day because it happens every so often is I have positioned my desk to specifically look out the windows. My desk used to face the wall. And one day, I think it was about two years ago or so I decided I have got so many windows and so many outlooks to the outside world I should turn my desk around and so I did and I kind of placed in the middle of the room so I could see out as many windows as possible and experience the world. And just that act and being able to take breaks from my day and breathe and recuperate and recharge allows me to look out my window and experience these little moments in nature and time that are so beautiful. I cherish them when I get to experience them.
So that is kind of what that can look like for you. That is one of my examples budgets allowing yourself to kind of explain the experience. And if you notice as you are doing this that your brain kind of starts to wander to thoughts that are tending more to focus on the negative and looking for things that went wrong, just noticing kind of set those thoughts aside, kind of shell them for a minute and then just bring your pain back to the experience I hand of what made you feel so grateful in the moment for that experience and kind of go through those steps. And then I do not want you to beat yourself up if your brain tends to go to the negative during this experience and you have to kind of bring yourself back to the present to what you are doing. That is normal. That is natural. It is so normal for our brain to look for negative. It is biased toward the negative on purpose. This has been passed down through our DNA for thousands of years. And so that is totally normal. It is natural for brain to do that. Nothing has gone wrong if you are doing this practice and attends to go to the negative. Again just shelf those thoughts and bring it on back to focus on what you are trying to do in the moment.
Remember that these things are a practice. The more you do them the easier they will feel and the better you will get at thing focused on what you are trying to do. And also remember that some days are going to be easier to do this than others. Even if you have been doing it for a long time. Even if you have been practicing recognizing gratitude and showing gratitude in your life and being mighty with gratitude in your life for a long time, some days are easier than others. And that is okay. That does not mean that something has gone wrong. It does not mean that you are doing it wrong. It means that you are human and that is a beautiful thing.
And if growing mighty in gratitude is something that you are wanting to do, then I would recommend setting an intention to do one or both of these practices, totally up to you, for a set amount of time. Whatever feels good to you. Maybe it is once a day. Maybe it is once every other day. Maybe it is every Sunday. Maybe it is three times a day. You get to decide. This is totally up to you but if this is something you want to begin practicing in your life set the intention and then go for it.
Alright my friends, that is what I have for you today. Thank you for listening as always. And I will be back next week.
If you like what you’re learning on the podcast and you’re ready to create lasting change and results in your life then you need to be working 1:1 with Karin as your divorce coach. This is where we take everything you’re learning in the podcast and 10x it with implementation and weekly coaching where you start to see change in yourself and your life immediately. To find out more about how work exclusively with Karin go to www.karinnelsoncoaching.com . That’s www dot Karin nelson coaching dot com.
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