It may appear sometimes as you have nothing to be grateful for, your finances are unstable, your job has been lost, or a dear relative has died. When tragedy hits it often hits hard and unexpectedly. Often time’s people get caught up in the tragedy in life and don’t focus on the strengths or the resources they already have. If you had to pick out two or three things that you already do well in getting through tough times could you?
If you are facing a tragedy in your life or a difficult time, you have several choices, you always have choices and only you know which one is most appropriate for you. You may choose not to feel anything and head right into action, busy, busy, busy you go. Distraction can work for a while, but eventually it catches up with you and may backfire. You may choose to engage in destructive behaviors to eliminate the feelings you are avoiding. These behaviors can range from abusing shopping, food, gambling, and sexual acting out, drugs or alcohol. You may choose to turn to your spiritual organization or beliefs to assist you in getting though the difficult time. You may choose to be sad and walk through the wide range of emotions with courage, without allowing yourself to get stuck. One technique I always use with my clients is Name it, Claim it and then Decide if you’re ready to let it go. This is a way to ensure you don’t get stuck in the negative emotions. You may get closer to friends and family as they support you through what you are going through.
Some people have an unbelievable ability to find the gifts in everything in their lives good or bad. What if you could pretend just for today that there is something to be learned from your tragedy or hard time? What if you decided to take on an attitude of curiosity and wonder to yourself and others what that learning may be for you. Maybe not today, or next month or even next year, but eventually you will find that gift. You will know what your lesson is in that incomprehensible loss, or difficult situation. At that time you will be able to see for yourself that you have made the shift to gratitude without even realizing you had done it!
-By Allison Mupas, M.A, MFT.