The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated. – William James
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know the importance of being grateful. As a child being grateful was ground into me as meal is ground from a wheat stalk. Hearing these words are some of my earliest memories:
“You should be grateful you are able to run, to jump to play outside. Don’t you realize how lucky you are to have friends, to be smart, to have a positive future ahead of you? Look at your sister. She isn’t able to do any of these things.”
“Bless her heart. She‘s not like you. You are so lucky. She is picked on almost every day she goes to school. You should be grateful.”
“Your poor sister. She will never drive a car or have a boyfriend. Her opportunities, her entire life is so limited. I hope you are grateful for your opportunity.”
Shame or gratitude?
I was not especially grateful for my first lessons in gratitude. Instead I felt shame for my abilities, for what I perceived as my completely undeserved good fortunes. My ’gratitude list’ felt like a burden. It was my destiny to carry this heavy weight of gratitude that often seemed to bury me.
My little girl mind created its own definition of meaning behinds those words, and those meanings were carved on my slate where they can still be found.
Awareness is the first step
Growing older brings more opportunities for disappointment, thereby allowing more opportunities to experience true gratitude: Gratitude for a home, a successful kidney transplant, healthy children who survived being born three months premature 14 years ago.
I am grateful these same children now wreak havoc on any peace of mind I have left and who captivate everyone with their spirits.
I can now fill reams of paper with people, places, and things for which I am sincerely grateful and new entries are added on a daily basis. However, I still struggle with an important aspect of gratitude – the idea of being grateful for myself. It eludes me.
Hearing I am created by God and worthy of love leaves me feeling disconnected and dismayed. For some reason this just does not apply to me.
I am working on it. Hard.
I have been working on it for some time, but it is an ongoing struggle. So today I commit to being grateful for the awareness of both the importance of gratitude for self and my difficulties with this. After all, awareness is the first step.
I commit to working on being able to add my own name to my gratitude list, because I so want to be worth it.