If I think about the moment right after a break up, more specifically the moment right after getting dumped- my entire world felt like it came crashing down. I could have lived in a mansion, drove my dream car, had the most supportive family, the greatest friends, and my dream career and my life still felt like shit.
Relationships can easily feel like our entire life, especially if you’re like me and have had a history of codependent relationships. But it’s important to remember that a relationship isn’t our entire life, and we do have a lot of beautiful things outside of the fact that our favorite person in the world was just ripped from us.
Now I’m not talking about the “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” kind of gratitude. That quote might work for some people but when I’m on the floor sobbing over a break up, I’m not thinking about how happy I am for the time I had with that person.
The kind of gratitude I’m talking about is looking at the things you’re happy about currently in your life, even with the immense sadness and pain. I was lucky that I grew up with semi-spiritual parents and gratitude was something that was talked about regularly, in addition to the fact that I’m in recovery from alcohol and drugs and my support group is a huge proponent of reflection on what we’re grateful for.
The good news is you can pick gratitude up as a habit at anytime. It literally takes less than 5 minutes. The purpose of gratitude is to focus on the positive, instead of focusing on the pain. Looking at the positive in your life and focusing on that does NOT negate the pain you’re in. It doesn’t mean that you should all of a sudden feel better because you won’t. Even if you feel better for just the 5 minutes when you’re actually making your gratitude list that’s ok. If you want you can go right back to reminiscing on the relationship.
Gratitude is a practice and it takes practice to do. Here are some tips to practice gratitude even at a shitty point in your life.
Make it easy for yourself: No need to go out and buy a fancy gratitude journal. Do it in a way that makes sense with your life. If you like writing, then jot down your list in the journal you already use. Do you not like to write? Type up a note in your phone and do it there. No need to go out of your way to do something that already feels weird.
Start small: Don’t overwhelm yourself with needing to write 10 or more things. Start with 3 and then work your way up. Set a goal for yourself that’s super easy to hit so you don’t get discouraged.
Do it whenever you can but I recommend doing it at night: That way you can reflect on your day and focus on what went well. What you may notice start to happen is you’ll be on the lookout during your day for things to write on your list at night.
You can write down ANYTHING!It can be big, broad things like I’m grateful I have a roof over my head, I’m grateful for my family, I’m grateful I have food to eat. Or it can be super specific to your day. I’m grateful for that amazing cup of coffee I had today, I’m grateful for the text my best friend sent me. There’s no wrong answer to write down.
Can’t think of anything you’re grateful for? That’s impossible. Not but seriously, every single person has something to be grateful for. If you’re reading this blog post that means you have reliable electricity, you have a computer or a smart phone, you probably have food to eat, and a roof over your head. You have eyes that can see, you have hands that work. That’s a whole lot to be grateful for.
And who knows….maybe one day you’ll be grateful that the relationship ended. My guess is if you put this into practice and keep healing you will absolutely one day see this as a blessing.