Thanksgiving…A time to be thankful. It can be very hard to feel thankful when going through holidays with PTSD. Especially when it is impacting all aspects of your life. You want to be happy; you want to enjoy being with family. PTSD’s grip will not let go just because you want it to, or because of the season, time of year, weather, activity, etc.
It’s easy enough to say “I’m thankful for…” But when life is such a struggle, are these things really good? Does it really make you feel grateful to say it?
The trick is to break it down mindfully. When you say “I’m thankful for sunny days” your mind is likely still telling you all the negative things about sunny days (the chores you should be doing but have no energy for as an example). It’s hard to really be grateful when your mind is telling you all the reasons not to.
So break it down mindfully. Before getting started, on a scale of 0-10 with 10 being great, how do you feel now? Using sunny days as the example, why do you (or did you) like sunny days? Before PTSD, and even now as you think of sunny days, what sounds do you notice? Sights? Smells? Tastes? As you think about the image with all associated details, what do you notice in your body? Where do you feel this? What feeling would you call this? What happy thing are you doing on this sunny day? Is anyone there with you? As you think about this image and details, breathe into the feeling? Allow it to grow. Keep breathing as it grows through your entire body. Has anything changed?Now let it envelope your body in a bubble. Breathe a few more times. What number are you now on that 0-10 scale?
Do this several times per day. You can use the same thing you were grateful for the first time or choose another thing. These things can be things you are currently grateful for or things that you used to be grateful for. Stay away from things you “should” be grateful for. This is your journey. Nobody else’s.
Mindfulness has many benefits, but can be very tricky. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it quickly. Don’t wait though. Start now. What is your number on a 0-10 scale? What is one thing you are or were grateful for? Grab the image with all sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and physical sensations. What and where do you notice it in your body? Is there a color, texture, or temperature to it? Hold the image with details and the feeling in your body together as you breathe into the feeling making it grow throughout your body and surround you in a bubble. Breathe in a few more times. Now what is that number?
You’ve got this. Gratefulness is learned. Share your story – either here or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I love hearing from everyone and respond to everything. I am grateful for the support I’ve received throughout my life that allowed me to live my passion; making it a reality. I love helping people, just like you, move from a feeling of chaos to a feeling of control in their lives, careers, and families.