“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. https://www.britannica.com/topic/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. https://pavelka.co.uk/