Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Reverse Gratitude - Can We Be Thankful for the Terrible Things?

Reverse Gratitude - Being Thankful for the Terrible Things
The happiest people, it turns out, are grateful. Grateful for what they have in their lives. Grateful for their abundance. But how many of them are grateful for the terrible things they've endured? 

Most of us have heard of a gratitude journal. Some of us even write in one. And as I consider the 10 things I'm grateful for today, I find myself reminiscing. Remembering the stuff that wouldn't usually make the list of things to be thankful for.

But in truth, I am grateful for the stuff that happened to me as a child. A "reverse gratitude" list, if you will. Here are my top 3 and why: 

1. I'm grateful that I was physically and emotionally abused by both parents. I know that sounds absurd, but it's true. If I hadn't endured at the hands of both parents, I wouldn't be able to empathize with and help others who have been through something similar. I wouldn't understand on such a profound level how a mother, not just a father, can be so severely abusive. The abuse I endured was a training ground for what I would choose to do as my life's work. Indeed, it is the reason that I do what I do.

Plus, I came to realize that physical discipline has too many adverse side effects. All of which made me an opponent to such discipline of children.

2. I'm grateful that I witnessed domestic violence growing up. No, I didn't enjoy it. Nor did I appreciate it at the time. I was terrified! For me, my siblings and my mother. So why am I grateful? Because witnessing such violence awoke in me a deep-seeded desire to protect. Witnessing what I did added a staunch determination to my already highly developed maternal instincts. And I tap into those instincts each and every day when I work with clients and others who seek my help.

I also set the bar so much higher than my mother did when it came to finding someone to share my life with. I knew what I didn't want and what I wouldn't settle for.

3. I'm grateful that I was bullied in school and had difficulty making friends. I don't condone bullying at all. The effects are severe and can be life-long. But if I hadn't been bullied I wouldn't have the first-hand experience to share with others who have been or are being bullied. I wouldn't have the credibility.

There are more. But I don't want to turn this post into a manuscript. Child abuse, domestic violence and bullying...having endured these terrible experiences in my life helped me become the compassionate person I am today.

I don't wish any of what I went through on anyone. I've simply given up the hope, even the idea, that any of it could now be any different. I have surrendered to the fact that these awful experiences happened in my life for a greater purpose.

I choose to see the benefit all of it brought to my life and how I can be of service to others as a result. I've not only gotten to a place of forgiveness...I've come to a place of forgiveness forgone. I see the grander purpose in all of it, so I no longer feel the need to forgive. Rather, I see the value in all I endured.

Can you find the benefit in the adversity you endured?
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  1. You are a whole lot more evolved than I am.

  2. I see your point but I'm with Jenny. I don't think I will ever be able to see the sexual abuse I went through as something positive.

  3. Let's look at the Russian anti gay policy, even though this policy is despicable, the positive is that it brings others together to fight such horrendous discrimination.
    I do not mean to compare this with abuse people have suffered but rather to point out there is positives in even the worst situations.


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