Many of us are familiar with the idea of gratitude, and not just on Thanksgiving. Especially in the US, there are so many things that many of us can be grateful for which we often take for granted—a house over our heads, water to shower and to cook with, access to stores to find food, and so much more.
But what happens during those times when you may feel like life has kicked you to the curb, and gratitude may seem challenging?
Some may come out and say, “Well, you should be grateful. It could be so much worse. At least you still have____” and list some of the things I just listed above. You may even find yourself thinking those thoughts.
It’s true—there are likely worse situations you could have had, and there are likely still things you can feel grateful for. But if you’re feeling like you’ve been struggling—with whatever in your life, maybe the loss of a job, a relationship, or the death of a loved one—doesn’t hearing someone tell you to feel grateful sometimes make you feel a little guilty or frustrated?
Gratitude can indeed bring us back to our center and remind us of our many blessings. But sometimes it can also feel difficult, especially if it seems we’re being asked to push our true feelings aside.
That’s why I want to remind you that it’s okay to feel a mix of feelings, if your heart is in a place to welcome them all.
Many of the things we say we’re so grateful for can seem to be so steady and secure. But the truth is that they can really be transient. Our family and friends can pass, or we can fall out of relationships with them. We may find ourselves out of a job, or possibly even out of a house. Our great health can change quickly, sometimes seemingly from one day to the next.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we can’t be grateful for those things when life is going well, or maybe even at times if it's not. My intention here is to help you see that with so much transience in our lives, sometimes gratitude can feel difficult. And if it does, that’s okay. Because we can honor all of our feelings, no matter if they fit with the theme of a holiday or not.
There’s something amazing that I’ve found can happen when we honor all of our feelings and allow ourselves to sit in the truth of the great transience that is our lives. Not only can we honor all of our feelings, even those that may not feel so grateful on this day, but with practice, and in whatever time feels right for us, we can also find gratitude for the transience.
We humans often don’t like transience or change. We like security. We like habits. We like things to stay the same. Or, there’s the other side of the coin—there may be some of us who are actually afraid of things staying the same, or we’re afraid of slowing down and turning inward. So we create “busy-ness” around us so that we can always find something new and outside of ourselves to focus our attention on. Ironically, for many of us, the very act of this “busy-ness” becomes quite a habit, which can be really hard to break!
So when life breaks this habit for us sometimes, by throwing a twist in the story, by heralding a time of great change in our lives, we resist. We don’t like it. We like our habits, after all.
And yet, life is constantly changing, whether we admit to it or not. Someone or something may be in our lives one minute and gone the next. So it can really help to develop a sense of space within ourselves that we can come back to, which can help us re-ground through all of the changes that life can hand us.
Sometimes, I’ve noticed, it is when we feel the most empty in our lives when we actually can allow for the greatest amount of space to be filled with something new.
Sometimes we can feel so empty that we’re not sure how to go on. But interestingly, if we let ourselves sit in this sense of emptiness, in time, we can come to fill it with a profound sense of peace.
It’s not common or generally accepted, at least here in the US, to welcome this kind of emptiness. We have so many “quick-fix” ways we can find to try to fill ourselves up again—so many ways to distract ourselves from acknowledging that there are times when we may feel so uncomfortably, vulnerably, achingly empty.
But can we welcome that emptiness anyway, if that is what we feel? Can we invite it in and let it be a guest at our table? Can we be with it? Can we allow for its profound truth?
Can we welcome all of ourselves, even those parts that make us feel uncomfortable? Even those parts that society tells us are not acceptable? Even those parts that need our love the most right now?
If you allow yourself to go there, no matter what anyone else says, no matter what resistance may surface in your own mind, you may be quite amazed at what may happen over time.
If you welcome in the emptiness, the transience, the changing nature of life, you may actually find great stability and peace in this very practice. Finding stability in welcoming change. Ironic, huh? ;)
Because you may find that the one thing that will always remain the same, as long as you are here and aware on this planet, is your capability to connect with your own heart and to acknowledge all of who you are and all of what life entails, no matter what may be going on in your outside world.
And that, my friend, is an amazingly stable cornerstone on which to build your life—from the inside out. It’s also an amazing practice to grow in gratitude for. Yep—you can grow in gratitude for your ability to acknowledge that you don’t always feel so grateful, but that somehow you’re still here and able to keep growing and learning from it all. ;)
Aren’t paradoxes fun??? :)
And maybe that is the point of transience all along—to help us open up to deeper and deeper levels of ourselves, so that we can live in this world with acknowledgement of all of the fullness and the emptiness of who we really are.
Know that even if you struggle to find gratitude today, that’s okay. Know that even if you feel empty today, that’s okay. Know that even if you can acknowledge some blessings in your life but have also endured great change or loss, it’s okay to acknowledge those feelings and not brush them aside. Know that even if someone else may seem to have it worse off, all of your feelings about your experiences still matter. Most of all, know that no matter how much transience there is in your life, you matter, and your being in this world makes more of a difference than you may ever come to know.
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Want a space where you can open to so many more of the feelings and thoughts that may be running your life? Check out my first book here. It’s a wonderful space for you to do just that. http://www.francinebrocious.com/all-about-me-book/
No matter what, always remember this: You are deserving, you are worthy, and you are good enough. Keep being you, keep shining, and keep growing!
With great love,