I am not a big fan of social media and seldom get online but since I have been doing this blog I have found the need to look from time to time. I noticed that several people are listing things they are thankful for due to the upcoming holiday. I thought that was a good topic for this blog so here goes.
I see people in my practice who are so caught up in the drama of their lives that they seldom take the time to be thankful for what they have. Since this is the start of the week before Thanksgiving I will start each session with a request from my patients to name at least one thing they are thankful for. I plan to keep a tally of positives discussed in times of troubles. Have we become a nation of negativity or do we ever stop to think of the things that are good in our lives.
As I talk to people at church, in my office, at meetings or in social situations I almost always hear the negatives about living in this time of great stress and uncertainty. I see patients who worry about things they have no control over instead of spending that time making their lives better. My favorite tool is the Serenity Prayer. Helping others to see that they cannot control others even though they work so hard at doing so. I see more adults and children who take no responsibility for their behaviors but blame others for their unhappiness. When I work with individuals who feel they need that control we discuss the fact that no matter how hard we try we cannot control the thoughts, feelings or actions of others. We can only control ourselves and the way we think, act and feel. What energy we waste when we attempt to control the world around us. When we work so hard to alleviate the feelings of anxiety by attempting to control the world around us we lose a part of ourselves and all of the potential healthy relationships around us.
The final line of the Serenity Prayer is “the wisdom to know the difference”. That is a tough thing to learn. Control can seem so powerful but is it really? When we let go of that perceived power and just focus on our own well being then we start to grow. When we learn to know the difference between controlling others through anger, jealousy and hatred and start to care for ourselves and our anxious thoughts we become more serene and can be thankful that we feel less stressed. Then we can grow.
I am thankful that after years of trying to control others I learned to center my focus on me. I am continually learning that anger, jealousy and hatred does nothing but make me unhealthy both in mind and body. I am thankful for my husband who is also learning to let go and learn that he can only manage himself and his thoughts, actions and feelings. I am thankful that we can work together to create a life where we discuss then let go. Other peoples behaviors do filter into our lives but we have learned to let those behaviors be the responsibility of the people who own them. When and if they are ready to work on their control, we hope that they seek professional help. We can not carry their burdens. They must do that themselves.
I would like to list some things I am thankful for. I am thankful for my wonderful husband of almost 31 years. We have had our ups and downs over the past three decades but our love and commitment to each other has grown because of them. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to give birth to and raise two children. They are grown now and in charge of their own destiny. I pray daily that they make good choices. I am thankful for a granddaughter and the ten wonderful years I had with her. I hope that she learns to be her own person someday. I am thankful that I had parents that were active in our lives, two brothers who were once protectors of me, a nephew and niece who are growing up to learn that the family anxiety gene can be managed. I am thankful that my in law’s accepted me and my children into their family. I hope that they too can continue to work on issues they have to confront.
I am thankful for my church family. When my husband and I were searching for a church family we walked into a church that immediately became our family. We love and cherish all of you. Thank you for being there these past few years
I am thankful for the chance to work with people who want to make changes in their lives and allow me to help them by education and a listening ear. I have had the privilege to work with some great people over the course of my career. I am thankful that I have the skills and knowledge to help others sort out their issues and become stronger.
As we approach the day when our nation celebrates the things that make this nation great, please take the time to be thankful. Most of all be thankful for choices. Not only choices of freedom but small choices in your daily life, choices that will help you be a better person, choices that will help you to take responsibility for you.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and I will see you here in two week.