Give A Little Thanks

By Nancy Pollard, LCSW, LLC
Nancy Pollard

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, now is a good time to sit back, reflect on our lives, and give thanks for what we have.

It is easy to give thanks and feel gratitude when life goes our way.  But what about when we are faced with adversity and surprised by obstacles?  How about when life doesn’t look like we thought and hoped it would?   To me, the real challenge is to be able to give thanks when we are thrown a curveball and are filled with disappointment and hopelessness.

One of my favorite lessons in A Course In Miracles is “we are never upset for the reason we think we are.”  Hindsight usually proves this to be true.  Endings are often beginnings, tragedies turn into gifts, and losses become gains.  Can we trust in this philosophy and feel gratitude when everything seems to be going wrong?

To see how thankful you really are this Thanksgiving season, try giving thanks to the following scenarios:

You get a flat tire.  Does it occur to you to say ‘thank you’?  Could it be that you have just been spared from a major pile-up ten minutes down the road?

You hate your job.  One day, you get laid off.  Do you think of saying ‘thank you’ for this gift?  Isn’t it true that the manager has given you permission to leave and helped by making a decision for you that you were unwilling to make for yourself?

Illness strikes, and all of a sudden your world falls apart.  For the first time, you must stretch and find new interests, hobbies, and lifestyle.  Is this good news or bad news?  Can you trust and give thanks?

Your teenager is caught shoplifting, drunk, or with drugs.  Yes, this is scary and upsetting.  But what if your child is trying to get your attention to show you that things at home are in serious trouble?  What if it is truly a cry for help and not the beginning of a horrible and delinquent youth?  Can you say ‘thank you’?

A relationship ends and you are the one that is left.  Rejected, you feel ashamed, embarrassed, angry, hurt, devastated.  What if the truth is that you truly weren’t happy, but were afraid to be alone and so you settled?  Can you thank the person for helping you face your fears? 

Or, worse yet, your partner has an affair.  “No,” you cry, “I will not say ‘thank you’ to THAT!”  But what if it is the beginning for the two of you to come clean with each other and finally have a heart-to-heart talk? What if it gets you in to professional couples counseling and brings your relationship to a new, higher level? Will you be thankful then?

Even more tragic, what if a baby dies?  Only the strongest can give thanks that they had this blessed child for a few days, weeks, or months to experience just a kiss and enlighten their lives forever.

It takes courage to give thanks in the face of despair.

When nothing seems to work, it isn’t because life is one big boogieman out to get you, but may really be a red flag to signal that you are on the wrong train headed in the wrong direction.  I like the approach of giving it the old college try and then letting go.  Surrendering.  Giving in to another way and giving thanks.  And if the struggles seem insurmountable, talking with a psychotherapist can help you break down the barriers so you can release the past and bring gratitude into your life.

If you are away from home and family this Thanksgiving, do not despair.  Give thanks.  This is the time that you can hand pick your own family of friends and create a wonderful new tradition. You get to be in charge of exactly what you want to do this holiday. Skip it. Take yourself to dinner.  Invite strangers in and give them a holiday.

Life was simplistic when the Pilgrims began this tradition.  Today, it’s complicated and convoluted.  Take a moment and give thanks.  When you look closely, you will probably discover that everything is exactly on course, just as it should be.  Next time when something looks like an ending, a disaster, or bad luck, try saying ‘thank you’ and see what happens.

Just a little Mountain Therapy

Copyright © 2015 Nancy Pollard



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