I remember hearing about the importance of creating gratitude lists years ago, probably from Oprah. It seems that gratitude has found its way into many discussions these days – and that’s a good thing. I believe that being grateful is one of the very best ways to raise our vibration. Every night before bed I think about all the things I am grateful for.
When you practice gratitude in this way, you see how much abundance is in your life already.
Grateful for the Good
Much of the focus about gratitude lists is on being grateful for all the good things in your life. That’s wonderful, because many people focus on the negative and have a hard time remembering that they have many things to be grateful for. These types of gratitude lists may look something like this:
- I am grateful for the health of my family.
- I am grateful for my two children.
- I am grateful to share my life with a wonderful husband.
- I am grateful for my house, which shelters me.
- I am grateful for the abundance of food we enjoy, knowing we always have enough to eat.
- I am grateful for the nice weather we had today.
And so on.
I think making this kind of gratitude list is a great daily practice and can bring much happiness and peace.
Another Kind of Gratitude List
Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the parenting challenges I face, sure that no one else has these struggles and that I am just going to have to “suffer” with these challenges until the kids are older. Choosing to suffer every day is definitely not a good feeling.
I recently read Dr. Wayne Dyer’s most recent book “I Can See Clearly Now” in which he reflects upon many experiences in his life and how he is grateful for all of them – the good and the not-so-good. His stories opened me up even more to the idea of trying to see the purpose or lesson behind each difficult challenge. If we can discover the purpose or lesson we learned (or should have learned) from each event or experience that we may label “bad”, then we can find a way to be grateful for them. Gratitude for all that happens in our life is a sure way towards inner peace.
So I decided to come up with a list of 10 things to be grateful for regarding my tough parenting challenges. The first parenting challenge I chose was my daughter’s tantrums.
My son never had as many tantrums as my daughter, so this has been hard for me. She had a tough time when we weaned from nursing (at age 2.5 years), when she would SCREAM for 60 minutes twice a day (at the times we used to nurse) – for two months. Now she is over those tantrums, she still has tantrums almost daily whenever she is really upset about something. They are loud and long and very hard to deal with. And of course they have happened in public and with friends present. No fun.
I know I have written about not taking tantrums personally, but I am human. I have limits and I can become emotionally drained from dealing with these situations daily.
Surprisingly, in just a matter of three minutes I was able to identify 14 reasons why I’m grateful for her tantrums.
14 Reasons I’m Grateful for My Daughter’s Tantrums
- Helped me develop deeper compassion for those who are suffering.
- Helped me learn to separate myself from what was happening and not take it personally.
- Forced me to abandon reasoning.
- Challenged me to see things from her point of view, which helped me learn to try to see things from others’ point of view also.
- Gave me chances to practice presence. What does this moment require of me?
- Gave me chances to practice patience. Anger is not going to help.
- Gave me chances to practice acceptance. She is going to have the tantrum for at least 20 minutes. Accept the situation instead of try to change it.
- Realized the depth of my love for her. I can be screamed at for 60+ minutes several times a day and my love for her does not change.
- They held a mirror to myself, showing me my triggers, which is a path to personal and spiritual growth.
- Made me look outside my current toolbox for other ways to handle the situation.
- Taught me to ask for help. When I couldn’t deal with another tantrum, I asked my husband for help (which I don’t normally do).
- Really drove home the point that all kids are different and I need to respond to each with what they need.
- Taught me to abandon expectations. They can lead to more disappointment.
- Learned to see the need behind the behavior. This has helped in dealing with adults, too.
The Changes I’ve Seen
I had never thought of my daughter’s tantrums in this way. I am usually so frustrated and angry when she starts another tantrum. “Why is she doing this to me?” is a common thought, as is “Why can’t things just be easy?”
But after I created my list, I realized a few things:
- I can no longer label her tantrums “bad”; just look at the 14 reasons they are good. Look at all the opportunities for growth she is providing me! What a great teacher.
- If something that is happening in front of me is no longer bad, then I am not a victim and I can choose empowerment and happiness and growth.
- I have a new perspective on a tough situation. Instead of “Oh crap, not another tantrum. Why does this happen to me? I’m tired of dealing with this sh!t.” I can choose to say, “Another tantrum? What am I supposed to learn from it this time?”
During her most recent tantrum, I got out my list and read it aloud to my husband. I could not finish reading it without crying. What once was a situation that incited anger and a feeling of loss of control, now was being seen as a moment of love for my daughter and was reminding me of why I was meant to experience it.
I have a lot to learn, apparently.
Your New Gratitude Challenge
How would things change in your life if your first reaction to a difficult situation was, “What am I supposed to learn from this?” or “What purpose does this serve (in my personal growth)?“
I challenge you to make a new kind of gratitude list for one of your challenges, parenting or otherwise. Pick a difficulty in your life (past or present) and list 10 reasons you are grateful for it.
If you can’t list 10 things, then you need to list 20 things.
I am no expert on this experience of being grateful for my difficulties. I am not perfect in always feeling grateful for tantrums or other challenges. Sometimes the purpose or lesson to be learned can be seen better in hindsight than it can in the moment.
But my goal is growth and this is one thing that I am going to try. It has helped me for this one challenge, maybe it can help you too.
I’d love to hear from you after you complete this challenge. What did you learn? How did your outlook change?
Wendy – ParentingTips365.com
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