This past week we went out into the woods to take some pictures. We were on this ledge that has a bunch of cinder-type rock everywhere. These rocks have jagged edges and were not sturdy either. I was almost done taking pictures and I had my camera around my neck as I was heading down some rocks to take one last group of pictures when out of nowhere I start falling. It was as if it was all in slow motion and I could see myself falling and making decisions about what was most important. Of course, my 1st thought was, save the camera. So as I'm falling trying to save my camera, I scrape all the way down both sides of my knees and down my shins. As I landed my first thought was, "I hope I didn't break something.......man that hurt" and my second thought was, "I'm so grateful I saved my camera and I'm grateful my hands and face are fine." Even though I was in a lot of pain, had blood running down my legs I still felt so much gratitude. Now a week later one of my knees is still sore and probably will be for some time, but I know with time I will heal.
After falling, I let out a scream of sorts as almost like a release of the pain. I then just started crying. I don't cry often, but in that moment it felt like the exact thing I needed. I just let the flood gates open. The crazy thing about crying is that it brings up all kinds of emotions and thoughts, that you didn't even know you needed to release but you do. It also can make other people uncomfortable.
So why am I telling you this story? Because we all have to experience pain and disappointment in this life. Sometimes it's physical pain, like in my story, and sometimes it's emotional pain as well. In those moments when life seems hard and overwhelming, for many of us, our brains go crazy head straight to fear and anger. It's almost like this continuous downward spiral that we never seem able to get out of. Is there even a way out? Many people have found, and I've learned for myself, that we have to train our brains to stop thinking about how horrible things are and focus more on gratitude, (I am still working on that). If that doesn't feel possible right now hold onto hope. Changing those thoughts is a process that takes continuous effort. Slowly the fear will dissipate and the pain will not seem as scary and fearful.
It will be so much easier to think about gratitude in times of trial and pain when we have made it a continuous practice in our lives daily. Remember fear-based emotions and love-based emotions cannot occupy our brains at the same time. Therefore, it's imperative we learn how to use the power of gratitude. Even if we do feel gratitude in those moments we still have to experience that pain, it's doesn't go away, but it does make it easier to bear.
If the same situation that I just told you about had happened a few years ago, I can guarantee that my thoughts would probably not have turned to gratitude. I may have gotten up and had the thought I'm grateful I didn't break anything, but that would probably have been the extent. This time was much different, my brain wanted to find the things it was grateful for, it felt safer there.
One other thing I want to mention, when we are in pain and it feels uncomfortable to everyone else around us, learning to experience it with gratitude and hope makes it bearable. If you believe in God you can look to him for healing and comfort as well. Either option doesn't take away the pain but in my life, it helps me feel that I'm not alone and adds a perspective on life I need at that time.
I hope that as you make gratitude a habit in your life, you too will find the peace and comfort it can bring into your life, especially in times of crisis and hardship.