Monday, November 21, 2011

When the Thanks Don’t Come Easy: 4 Reasons to Give Thanks In the Midst of Hard Times

via Pinterest
Balance is everything.  In order to have peace of mind, we must let go and allow ourselves to accept everything that life has to offer - the ups and the downs - without judgement.   Highs come with lows, mistakes come with success and pleasure comes with pain.  As we live through the extremes that create balance, we learn to ride the waves.  We don't get to choose balance, it's divinely a part of this life. Our choice is whether we accept it or fight against it.  When we look for meaning in the unpleasant and uncomfortable things that happen in our lives, we learn to embrace a consistent energy of gratitude that can sustain us through any and everything.

In the spirit of embracing balance, consider the following opportunities to give thanks even in the midst of hard times:

*Thanks for broken relationships.  This one's for the relationships that didn't last.  Over and over we ask ourselves what we could have done differently.   But if every relationship is about growth and development, then there are times that we just have to let go once we learn what we are meant to learn.  We can be thankful for the presence of mind to move beyond the emotion and look for the growth.  Somewhere beyond the grief and pain is an important lesson waiting to be learned.

*Thanks for disappointment.   Life is challenging.  There will be change, discomfort, betrayal, misunderstandings, obstacles, mysteries, and grief.  We will at times feel lost and forgotten.  There will be situations that seem unfair. What looks bad today, can turn around and bless us tomorrow.  We should ultimately be thankful for all these things because they are necessary detours we have to take to get where we're going.  We can't avoid disappointment, but we can reframe how we think about it. 

*Thanks for criticism.  Let's be thankful for the critics in our lives that push us to gain a firmer understanding of who we are.  Through criticism we learn to develop a thick skin and a strong sense of self.  Thanks to criticism, we learn that we can't please everyone, so we might as well shine and be fulfilled from within.  Likewise, we can stop taking everything so personally and looking for reasons to feel sorry for ourselves.  Some criticism is constructive and some is not, but we have to go through it to learn the difference.

*Thanks for being alone.  Many of us fear separation; the idea of  being alone, and seemingly unwanted can be terrifying.  We keep buffers around to avoid spending too much time on our own.  There's a special kind of wisdom that comes from appreciating and cherishing time alone.   Sometimes we have to step out on our own and make a new way. Sometimes we have to spend time alone to discover that special thing that we love to do.  We don't necessarily welcome that alone time at first.  But here's to loving yourself enough to take time out to relate to your inner world, even when it's not easy to do so.

What challenging aspects of life are you thankful for?  Can you think back on difficult situations that you've faced and see the opportunities for growth and self-awareness?


Jami said...

The most challenging aspect of life in my opinion is death. No, I'm not suicidal but I've become kind of pre-occupied with it of late. I have NEVER lost anyone close to me through death. So, I don't know what that is like to get further and further away from the funeral of someone and have it really set in that you can't call, visit, or email a "hello." But the deaths of Michael Jackson and Heavy D, reallly affected me. I never mutually communicated with these men or saw them in person, but a death of a young adult (and yes these men were young) seems to not have "supposed" to happen. And in my opinion this means that maybe some people's deaths are a wake-up call so the people left behind don't have to repeat the mistake if it applies to them.

But putting aside the ultimate destination of life (which is death), when i think about the journey of life itself in relation to the deaths of these two men, I think about how we must look at the most painful or unhealthy aspects of our person--physical and spiritual--and work through them and then share our stories of triumph, esp. when we are lucky enough to have access to mass media and a very large audience.

What if Michael Jackson surrendered to one of his family's interventions and checked into rehab and 10 years after being off of painkillers and cured of insomnia he shared his triumphant story with the public? WOW!! And what if he could have pulled through the immense emotional and psychological pain of being accused of child abuse but acquitted but still experiencing a huge decrease of the public's regard for him and 10 years later sharing his story about reaching a place of peace and love? WOW! What a thought of such a lifechanger--for him and others like him.

What if Heavy D could have reached a Normal BMI and kept the weight off for 10 years and been able to share his story of how he had been mistaken about glorifying or being comfortable with being overweight? WOW! How many people could he have encouraged to do the same? I personally have been encouraged by Jennifer Hudson's weight loss and I am determined to be back to a Normal BMI and so what could Heavy have done for the overweight black men?

I don't know and we will never know. But both of these musicians' deaths inspire me to live my life honestly and with a desire to work on my flaws and insecurities, embrace the truth of who I am and feel loving and proud toward myself despite that and then when I successfully come through a valley, seek an audience of those struggling with the same issue and share my story.

Thank you for such a wonderful, thought-provoking post. I discovered your blog from a recent post on another site. Peace.

Love & Tangles said...

This was truly a beautiful post and similar to a post I just made today. A challenging thing that I am thankful for is my husband's family and friends. They all dislike me bc I don't let them tell me what to do. I appear easy to control bc I'm short and rather quiet, but I don't play bullcrap.
They've taught me to stop finding things wrond with myself. We have had ongoing issues for about 6-7 years and I'm sure they won't be ending anytime soon. I've learned that there is nothing wrong with me, but that I DO need to stand up for myself and stop being so agreeable to the point of control. I need to present myself the first time how I want to be respected 10 yrs down the line. Its too late now, bc they try to control what I do by talking about me, etc., but I still will be checking asses from now on.
Seriously, people take kindness for weakness when you're only 5' tall....unless you're Jada Pinkett. :-/ I've had the hardest time trying to balance respect with standing up for myself...bc his people equate respect to doing what they tell you and want you to do. I still despise the fact that I've had to go through this in my life but am grateful for who I have been challenged to become.....but still in a respectful manner.
Great post! Thanks for posting this!

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