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Gratitude is Your Superpower!!

I’ve been thinking a lot about GRATITUDE lately. Feeling grateful is such an integral part of my life…but it wasn’t always this way. Like some of you, I experienced childhood trauma. And when I was a kid, I dreamed of the day when I could choose my own experiences of life. I was determined that my life would be different. I would be different. And once I was old enough to leave home and make my own decisions, my life would be a million percent better. It wasn’t. The darkness followed me like a shadow, casting itself onto my life and at times I felt overwhelmingly helpless. On the outside, my life was seemingly great—I married a great guy, had a fulfilling career, worked with great people, and just moved into an apartment we loved. I had everything I’d hoped for. I was only 23 years old. Some days were harder than others. I had a clear understanding of what my issues were and where they stemmed from. I could list them one-by-one. But I didn’t know how to release the unpredictable darkness. And my habitual pattern of behavior was to stay in my uncertainty as it happened to me, until it subsided. I was in therapy at the time, making a concerted effort to “fix my brokenness.” My therapist guided me through the process of developing self-awareness, so I could begin to recognize what I was thinking and feeling (more about feelings in the next newsletter). I have learned to call this becoming the observer. During one of our sessions, he gave me the task of reframing my thinking. He suggested that the moment I start to think negative thoughts, to stop the thought midstream and think something positive. Later that day, after that particular session, I was watching Oprah. She had a guest on her show who talked about focusing on the the positive experiences in our life. And then later that evening while shopping at Target, I thumbed through a book that described the process of creating a Gratitude Journal. Three similar messages from three different sources. In my world, this is clearly a message from the Universe. So, I bought a blank journal that day and started to capture 3-5 things I was grateful every night before going to sleep. And I started feeling better… for a while (I’ll get to this part…). But, let’s first talk about why intentionally identifying what we’re grateful for is a Superpower:

  1. Thoughts are powerful. They’re like an order you place to the Universe.

  2. Thoughts with corresponding emotions strengthens the power the thought has. This combo creates a high vibrational frequency. (BTW, thoughts with an undercurrent of negative emotions, including fear, counteracts the thought and creates a barrier). This power is actually aligning with Source, the Truth of who your are.

  3. What you pay attention to, you get more of. Have you ever thought about purchasing a new car and suddenly you see the car everywhere? If you’re interested in testing this out, check out E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality by Pam Grout .

  4. Your brain creates and relies on patterns. These patterns become expectations. As you have experiences, you see through a filter of what you expect to see. To learn more about Confirmation Bias, check out this quick video.

Becoming aware of my thoughts and expressing gratitude was the start of both my spiritual journey and my healing-from-trauma journey. But after a while, I noticed that my focused gratitude were the big things—good health, loving husband, place to live, money to live, etc. Having grown up in poverty and in a toxic environment, these were the things I was grateful for. My daily reflections focused on how different my life was. And I was absolutely and completely grateful for that. I also realized I was saving these gratitudes for my nightly ritual, right before I went to sleep. But in truth, I was still caught up in the roller coaster of emotions. I hadn’t let go of my subconscious expectations—continually bracing myself for something that just might go wrong. I also stayed in my head with a never-ending to-do list and an inner-critic that was continually reminding me of my imperfections and all the coulda-shouldas. That inner-critic (also know as the E-G-O) kept me wanting but disguised itself as goals, to-do lists, and self-reflections. And it was nicely wrapped in subconscious guilt. Guilt for not being perfect. And then at the end of every hectic day, I’d write all the things I was grateful for and I’d mentally tell myself to stop being a whiny little baby for all the things that went wrong or didn’t feel right. Your life is a million times better than it’s ever been. You are safe…no one is hurting you anymore. You have nothing to bitch about, Isela. Then, one day in my work as a director of a children’s program at a residential drug and alcohol treatment center for families, I had a moment. You know the type of moment. One of those monumental moments you never forget… We’d been working with a little girl who was incredibly difficult to reach. She’d lived through so much trauma before her mom came to treatment, bringing her along. She didn’t like anyone to touch her and would cower every time we’d get near her. One day, she was running outside and tripped over a ball and scraped her knee. I remember her looking down and freezing. For many children who have experienced abuse, they learn that adults aren’t who keep them safe. So, they take of themselves. I froze, watching her. Waiting to see what she was going to do as blood streamed down her leg. She looked up, tears glittering in her eyes. I dropped to my knees, silently sending an invitation to her. After several long seconds, she reluctantly stepped forward, taking those few steps until she fell into my arms. I remember the moment her tense body softened as I held her. And I was wholly and completely grateful.

Grateful I was there for her. Grateful to her. For teaching me so very much. And I felt that gratitude in every part of me. I’ve never forgotten that experience. This wasn’t the first time I had incredible moments, particularly in my work with kids. But it was the first time that I understood what I was feeling. And it was the first time I realized that I didn’t need those breakthrough moments to experience that level of gratitude. That’s when I started paying attention to the little things that brought me joy. The sun’s yellow and gold hues cascading onto the earth as I drove home. The single droplet of rain water gripping onto a vibrant red rose growing to the left of my stairwell. The inspirational conversation with the bank teller that went beyond typical niceties. I practiced noticing and paying attention to all the beautiful moments. I let myself feel thankful for the little things. The things I’d missed because I was in my head and not fully present. Fast forward many years and I saw a story floating around social media called Priorities and a Jar. I’m posting it here, in case you didn’t see it. It’s a lovely story, but when I envisioned a mason jar filled with large stones, my take was slightly different. So, humor me…imagine a mason jar filled with stones. Maybe five larger stones that fit snuggly in the jar. We think the jar is full, but if we poured smaller pebbles into the jar, it would fill in the nooks between the larger stones. Even further, if we poured sand into the jar, it would fill in all the gaps between the larger and smaller stones.

As I see it, the larger rocks are those big gratitudes—health, home, family, partner, career, abundance, etc. The smaller stones and the sand are the many, many moments through the day where we get to choose what we pay attention to. As you experience your day, consider:

  • What fills your mindspace? Where is your focused attention?

  • As you experience your day, what are the things, people, sounds, smells you notice?

  • Are you able to capture micro-moments that you’re grateful for?

  • Practice leaning into these moments and pay attention to the story you’re telling yourself, what you’re feeling and where in your body you’re feeling the sensation.

  • The more you practice, the easier it gets. And the more you can pay attention and express gratitude for those beautiful moments that surround you, the higher your vibration. The higher your vibration, the more in alignment you are with your Highest, Truest Self. AND there’s something pretty magical when we write these experiences down, especially if you’d like to make this a consistent practice. I’ve created a graphic especially for this purpose!

Gratitude (1)
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Gratitude Linear
Download PDF • 34.55MB


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