Attitude of Gratitude

“I have an attitude and I know how to use it.”  Seems contradictory.  One of the many things I learned in counseling is the Art of Gratitude.  Like many life skills, gratitude is a skill that needs to be taught.  Receiving a gift, a compliment, or some good deed may be difficult for someone with PTSD.  My struggle was anything given to me had strings attached.  So when I was given a compliment, a gift, or someone did something kind I was looking for the ulterior motive.  My first thought is what do they want from me and what will this ‘gift’ cost me.  (Remember the Trojan Horse. I struggled with this because in my experience gifts came with a heavy price tag.  My first counseling asked me what I would want….I was distrustful and wanted to make a strong point.  (Mind you I hadn’t worked very long with him.)  I bought a huge fish hook and drove it through an Almond Joy bar with the barbed part of the hook piercing the word Joy.  I did not know how to feel gratitude because I saw all gifts as a bargaining chip or a hook to reel me in.  To feel gratitude takes several important emotions besides thankfulness.

A certain level of trust in the giver.

An appreciation for the effort or expenditure the person invested.

A recognition that I have something to be thankful for.

A feeling of pleasure to be a recipient of the gift.

I also needed to set a boundary that if the gift is not one that is useful or pleasurable  I didn’t need to keep it forever.

You start to see when you break down the pieces and parts of gratitude there is a lot packed into one thought.  Write down things you are thankful for receiving.  For me some days, it is something as simple as sucking air into my lungs or seeing a particularly lovely sunrise or sunset.  Gratitude that I can get up in the morning.  Gratitude that I can attend church or work.  Thankful heart makes the world a prettier place to live.

Pavelka suggested for his toolbox to keep a gratitude journal.  Actually write down the compliments received.  Acknowledge and write down kindnesses done to a person.



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