Let me start by saying that before you get to gratitude, allow yourself whatever time you need to process the pain of having been let down by someone you love, and allow yourself to feel whatever pretty, or not at all pretty feelings you have around the experience. There’s nothing that prolongs pain more than not allowing yourself to feel it. Once you’ve given yourself time to clench your fists at the sky, or dig your hands in the dirt, once you’ve had your cry (or twenty), then you can get back to filling your tank with the good stuff, because it’s all there waiting for you.
1. Acknowledge that you have an open and trusting heart, and that you know how to love deeply.
There are people so fueled by rage, or so blocked by fear, they cannot allow themselves to put down the shield and open to love, and that it a very painful way to move through life. Even if your love was not met with the respect, kindness, tenderness and cherishing it deserved, you can still celebrate the fact that you know how to give your heart to this world, and to other people, and that is beautiful.
2. Remember all the people who’ve never let you down, even if there are only a handful of them.
The truth is, life is hard and strange and confusing and surprising and often wonderful and frequently heartbreaking, and it bends us all differently at different times. You may have crossed paths with someone who was in a dark place, and maybe you got burned, and that’s difficult and painful, but don’t let it overshadow those people who are always there for you. Maybe it’s your mom or your best friend, maybe it’s your dog, but there are those beings who never let us down and now is a good time to remember and appreciate them. Often, we take people for granted, especially if we know we have someone who would come if we called at 3am, or if we simply assume we have all the time in the world to make sure they know how much we value them. The truth is, nothing is promised and we never know, but don’t let that reality scare you, try to let it inspire you to take action. A phone call to let someone know you love them has the power to turn their day around, but also yours.
3. Remember that you get to choose the lesson.
There are certain things we’d rather not know, but we don’t get to choose. Whenever we’re hurt, we have two choices–we can let the pain harden us or soften us; I highly recommend softening. Empathy is a gift you offer to everyone you encounter, and though there may be some things we wish we didn’t understand, it is still powerful, beautiful and meaningful to be able to offer your hand to someone in the dark, because you’ve been there, too. Appreciate your strength and your insight and your power.
4. Develop a daily gratitude practice.
Culturally, we are encouraged to focus on what we don’t have, or how we aren’t measuring up. We’re inundated with those messages all day long. Retrain your mind to focus on everything that is going well, that is flowing, that you do have. You woke up this morning, right? You’re reading this right now. You can breathe deeply. The sun is in the sky, whether you can see it right now or not. You have food to eat and a place to call home. Coming from a place of abundance feels so much better than coming from a place of lack. When you’re in pain and feeling hurt, it’s easy to spiral and start to feel hopeless, but hope is something you need in this world, and sometimes you have to stoke that flame. You might create a gratitude jar and fill it with little scraps of paper with snippets from your day that reminded you it’s good to be alive, even when we’re heartbroken. There’s still time, and how you feel now is not how you will always feel, and just around the bend, life might surprise you, because that’s how it works. You are never alone, even when you feel alone. We’re all in this together.
Sending you love, a hug, and the hope that you find peace in your heart,