We are continuing with cognitive reframes this week. As a reminder, a cognitive reframe is a shift in the mindset so you can approach situations from a new perspective. The ones I share with you are small shifts you can make in common approaches we have to things that will hopefully have beneficial impacts for you.
So far, I’ve talked about transitioning from focusing on to-do lists to asking yourself what needs your presence, stepping away from black-and-white/right-and-wrong thinking to asking yourself what is true and beautiful and a shift from having no boundaries and people-pleasing to realizing you can love others and yourself when setting and withholding boundaries.
This week we talk about gratitude.
Lately, I’ve been finding myself getting stuck in stress, overwhelm, fatigue and irritation. My son has entered the toddler years in full force and his emotions are alive, strong and well in our household. The past couple of weeks there have been moments where I have felt a real heavy and burdensome fatigue. These emotions are valid and will be experienced in motherhood, but they started to drag me down in a way that I knew meant I was getting stuck in them and not moving through.
Thanks to Brene Brown, there is a very effective way to shift situations from whatever they may be to ones filled with joy. The trick?
I worked to shift my thoughts to gratitude when I felt the stress, overwhelm, and fatigue with my son and what was at first exhaustion from following my son around in his constant-on-the-go adventuring, shifted to gratitude that I get to be outdoors so much, that I get to see where my son’s adventurous heart leads him and that I got to hear his “wow wows” as he soaked in the beauty of nature. The overwhelm with his tantrums transitioned to gratitude that I get to help him learn, process, and embrace his emotions. Gratitude that I can sit with him, help him start to put emotional names to what he is experiencing and I can begin paving the narrative that our relationship is one that he can enter into in any emotional state and I’ll be there.
And I kid you not when I tell you that there was an immense shift as the weight lifted off of me as I shifted my thoughts to ones of gratitude. I’ve turned back to this so often these past few weeks and each time, without fail, I feel so much better.
Now, the difference between running away from our emotions to knowing when it’s time to implement gratitude to help experience joy is a great question. For me, I know gratitude is something I need to turn to when the emotions I am currently experiencing shift from something I can name and sit with, to something really heavy and burdensome. We aren’t meant to get stuck in emotions. So if you find yourself stuck in one, then it’s OK to do what you can to move through it. That’s not you running from your emotions, that is you finding health. And shifting your thoughts to ones of gratitude may be just what you need to help you move through.
So, if you find yourself amidst the weight of getting stuck in heavy emotions or just want to strive to experience joy more often, gratitude is your answer. Start to name gratitude in what you are experiencing and joy will be quick to follow.
Kylie Larson, MA, LPC