Experiencing Gratitude…When EVERYTHING Is Going Wrong by Kilondra Davis, MA, RMHCI

As we travel through life, the possibility of experiencing hardships is inevitable. Most of the time we are able to handle the ups and downs of life. Then there are the instances when everything just seems to be going wrong and you’re experiencing problems at work, school, with friends, family, romantic relationships, the car, finances, and the list can go on and on. But it brings in a sea of negative emotions and thoughts that begin to feel as if there is a heavy weight on your shoulders with no hope in sight.

The experiences of negative thoughts and emotions and the lack of hope are a big part of why practicing gratitude is so important. When times get extremely hard, it can often serve as a life line. For example, when experiencing challenges, strong emotions of fear, pain, and anger can become overwhelming and cause us to become hyper focus on our problems. When we become hyper focus on our problems it can potentially shuts out the positive and only let in the negative.

As challenging as it is to practice gratitude during everything going wrong, when it is done, it can be very helpful and rewarding! Practicing gratitude helps to alleviate the weight of the struggles by lifting our mood and bringing in joy. It reinforces resilience by increasing our levels of hope and our awareness of the support and inner strength that we have. It also helps with relaxation by encouraging us to take moments throughout our day to think about what is going well, which shifts the mind from the stressors.

Expressing the importance and benefits of gratitude can come across as trivial. But, many of us struggle with it and as a result we become lost in narratives of “No matter what I try, everything just seems to go wrong” or “My life is a complete mess”. Without moments of gratefulness, we become stuck in the negative. This then creates room for resentment, jealousy, anger, sadness, fear and many more undesirable feelings to grow. As these negative emotions grow, negative thoughts and behaviors are also growing. This causes additional problems at work, school, with friends, family, romantic relationships, the car, finances that can take the form of arguments and isolation.

It can be helpful to know that being grateful despite the challenges of life is not discounting the difficulty of the problems or the intensity of the emotions that often come with them. Instead it is a shift in power. It is acknowledging the challenges that we are facing but not allowing them to control our day, thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and ultimately our beings. It is acknowledging that “the bad is not the only thing that is happen to me and I have a choice of what I will focus on”. It is not something that is easy to do but with practice it can get easier.

Here Are Some Helpful Tips on How to Experience Gratitude in The Midst Of Everything Going Wrong….

  • Acknowledge The ‘Small’ & ‘Big’ Positive Things
  • Vocalize/Write Down the Things That Are Going Right
  • Spend 5 Minutes A Day (Or However Long You Want) Reflecting on What Is Going Well
  • Remember to Control What You Can and Let Go of What You Can’t
  • Look for Things That You Could Be Thankful for On A Daily Basis
  • Create A Daily List Of “Today I Am Grateful For…”
  • Thank Yourself & Others
  • Be Intentional
  • Practice Daily

It Can Be Challenging to Think of Things That Can Lead to Feelings of Gratitude. This is Especially Hard When Our Hardships Are in Our Forefront. So Here Is A Helpful List of Things We Can Acknowledge Daily to Experience Gratitude:

  • Food
  • The Sun
  • The Ability to Breathe
  • Having A Place to Sleep
  • Having Drinkable Water
  • Having Electricity
  • Being Able to Shower
  • Having Transportation
  • Having Access to Music
  • Having Clothes and/or Shoes
  • Having Your Senses and Sensations (The Ability to See, Hear, Touch, Taste, Feel, & Laugh)

Look for Something Positive in Every Day, Even If Some Days You Have to Look A Little Harder.

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