It’s Thanksgiving this week and as a result you may be seeing things show up in your inbox reminding you to be grateful.
If you are a betrayed partner dealing with the cascading shitstorm that betrayal can bring, you may be rolling your eyes and saying, “Grateful schmateful, I just want to survive.”
The holidays add layers of challenge to an already overwhelming situation as we negotiate time with friends and family who may not know what we are dealing with, or we try to make sure the kids are creating memories they will think of fondly in later years. The pressure can be immense.
Practicing gratitude can feel like one more thing we are falling short at or one more item on an overly full to-do list.
However, there is a reason why this topic gets regular attention all year long and not just at Thanksgiving. Gratitude has the power to change our emotional state and that makes it a big deal.
Gratitude is, at the core, a mindset issue. And, when understood and engaged with properly, it is a secret weapon that can help us regulate ourselves and move out of fear, shame, and powerlessness more quickly.
The most important thing to understand about gratitude is that it can be done as either a pointless exercise that we check off and move on from with no noticeable result. Or it can be a powerful experience that changes our emotional state and helps us to connect with our resourcefulness and resilience.
What is the key that makes the difference? Whether or not you feel grateful. We can enter the experience of gratitude from any emotional state. We can be angry, in despair, hopeless, in pain, serene, happy, or content. But if, as we name the things we are grateful for, we let ourselves truly connect to the feelings that follow, our emotional state will begin to shift.
When we acknowledge the places in our life where we are being supported, or are experiencing love, or are seeing things go well, or are succeeding, we begin to feel our emotional state change. Gratitude shows up not as an idea or a concept but as a feeling of warmth that spreads throughout our chest and arms. As this feeling grows, it connects us to our core self and to our resourcefulness and resilience.
Let me say that again, because it is important.
Gratitude connects us to our authentic self and opens access to our resourcefulness and our resilience – two things that we need desperately as we navigate the aftermath of betrayal.
This is why practicing gratitude is a superpower. During moments when we feel bogged down in pain, despair, or hopelessness it can feel like we have no resourcefulness or resilience to connect to. Yet the reality is that these parts of us do exist, they are just blocked during that moment by emotions that feel bigger and stronger.
When we do the thing we feel least like doing – practice gratitude during a crappy moment – it can shift our emotional state just enough that we can find a glimmer of the resourceful part of us to latch onto.
Part of the magic is that we are reminded of the bigger picture. Betrayal can trap us in blind alleys of pain where we forget that there is more to us and to our lives than betrayal trauma. Naming the things we are grateful for opens up a door out of the alley and into a larger view of our present and our future. It reminds us of who we really are. It reintroduces hope.
Below, I have created a list of things you, as a betrayed partner, might be grateful for. This is just to help you get started and to give you a taste of the way in which practicing gratitude can move us toward our resourceful selves.
I am grateful for…
Friends that know my story and are holding space for me as I journey through.
Family members who have pitched in to help with kids, errands, and other things during this crisis.
My therapist who holds my pain with me and provides guidance and support.
My sponsor who lets me call when I am falling apart and helps put me back together.
The many resources that are available to help support me in my healing.
My partner’s willingness to do the work needed to repair the relationship.
The clarity and ability to leave a relationship that was not good for me.
A new understanding of boundaries and how to implement them.
The ability to use my voice effectively within my relationship.
A beautiful place to take long walks while I think about and process all that has happened.
Health professionals who are supporting me as my body deals with the stress-load created by betrayal.
Connection with a loving Higher Power that sustains me.
Freedom to rage at my Higher Power about the injustice of betrayal.
Tears that are cleansing and help my body release pain.
Anger that reminds me of my dignity.
Children and grandchildren that bring joy.
All that I am learning about myself and the new freedom it is bringing.
Diminishing trauma symptoms.
A growing sense of self.
I hope that as you have read this list, at least a few of these have resonated with you in a way that has allowed you to feel your emotional state begin to shift as you allow gratitude to connect you to your core self.
Do this each day and you will build the ability to access your resourcefulness and resilience more and more quickly. And don’t make a project out of it. Do it in the shower, or while putting on your makeup, or while driving carpool. Use it as one crucial tool among many to help you heal.
When I practice gratitude, over and over again on my list is the joy I feel about doing work I love, serving people I love, while being part of the miracle of healing. Thank you for letting me be part of your journey.