When I was first getting clean and sober, it was very difficult for me to think outside of myself. When I listened to others stories it was to relate it to myself, not to empathize and feel for the other. While it was important for me to focus on myself, eventually I had to learn to to think of others. My sponsor at the time told me that the best way to quit the internal dialogue, which by the way was usually negative, was to write a gratitude list.
Have you ever written a gratitude list? It isn’t always easy to do. My first lists could be named “10 things I Kinda Don’t Hate About Myself ” . I had things on there like:
- I woke up
- I have good hair
- I didn’t drink
- My shirt is clean
It was actually a struggle to get to 10 things. If I got to 5 it was good. In reality, if I remembered to do the thing it was good. Slowly as I got cleaner. As the years of alcohol and drugs detoxed from my body I got better at my gratitude lists but they were still negative.
- I didn’t beat anyone up even if she deserved it
- I kept my mouth shut and didn’t say anything even when I was right
- Today was an ok day
- I actually spoke up at a meeting for once.
I still had not gotten the idea that these lists were for reminding yourself of the positive, the good in your life. They are meant to remove the negative self talk and thinking. To look at things and situations in your life with a slant of acceptance and not trying to change something to fit your narrative. Eventually through lots of work and understanding on my part, my lists got much better.
1. I enjoyed the meeting today
2. I got to work coffee bar today, they trusted me with the money
3. It was a beautiful day. The birds were singing
4. I was able to finish my 5th step what a burden removed.
5. My coffee was really good this morning.
6. I have good hair
7. I am looking healthy again
8. I made a new friend
9. My daughter made me laugh
10. I made rent
(Actual list made long time ago)
Gratitude lists are incredibly powerful tool that can remove you from self and put you back into the world. To see others, recognize where they are at and accept them for them. The lists won’t replace your emotions, or tell you how to fix something. You will still have issues. It is how you look at these issues that changes. Instead of things happening to me, I learned they happen because of me and only I can change it. I can live my life knowing I got this.