It helped me stop feeling like a victim!
My alarm was blaring and I reached around clumsily, my eyes still closed trying to make the noise stop. I was angry and frustrated with my poor night of sleep. I had a horrific dream about someone I loved being tortured, and I stayed up for an hour trying to change my thought process to avoid going back into the same nightmare again. The images were fuzzy and dark, but I knew they would be stuck in my mind all day.
I stumbled to the bathroom, stubbed my toe on, and slipped in water on my bathroom floor. My partner had left the shower curtain outside the tub, and the whole floor was soaked. I was lucky I hadn’t hit my head, but my clothes were wet, and the towel wasn’t hanging on the rack. I was really pissed off. “How hard is it to learn to put the curtain inside the tub, shower, and take it out again?”
After taking care of that mess, I went to make coffee. I used the last of my instant coffee powder, mixed it with hot water, and poured in the milk. I took a sip and spat it out. The milk was sour and tasted like vomit mixed with coffee. I threw the whole cup in the sink and stormed out of the kitchen, muttering about how I was supposed to get anything done without coffee.
I felt like crawling back into bed, determined my whole day was ruined. Everywhere I went, bad things happened to me. Some were minor like these, and others were huge, life-changing, awful events. I constantly revisited those old events in my mind, reminding myself that I’m a person that has a hard life.
What was happening?
This would have been a typical day until I learned about changing my mindset and practising gratitude. I had what’s referred to as a “victim mentality,” and it wasn’t serving me. Through the lenses of my victim glasses, I focused on all the ways I was at a disadvantage, marginalized, and most of all, hurt. I could write a book about “all the bad things that have happened to me.” Many of them I’ve never had the guts to write about. Some of them I have. I am so grateful I decided to try a gratitude practice.
Until I learned about gratitude, sometimes my day was ruined and I hadn’t even gotten out of bed. Now I know that I made a choice to let negativity snowball into more and more negative experiences. But at the time I felt hopeless, completely out of control. I was depressed and felt disempowered. On a morning like this, I would be exhausted by 10 AM, spending all of my energy on negative thoughts and experiences.
Being More Grateful
With gratitude, the same morning goes completely differently. I start the day by thinking of things I am grateful for before I even get out of bed. This helps me to shake off any bad dreams if I didn’t manage to conquer them with lucid dreaming. Even if I’m not awake enough to get creative, I can be thankful for my bed, my clean sheets, the air conditioner, the dark curtains, and my partner with my eyes still closed.
I make sure I’m in a grateful, positive mindset before I move. You may want to try this gratitude practice for yourself! When I’m feeling good, I rarely have mishaps like stubbing my toes or slipping in water. Instead, I notice the wet floor and laugh at how oblivious my partner can be. I also find it amusing that he hasn’t lived with a bathtub and shower curtain before, so it’s still easy for him to forget to pull it inside to shower.
When I pour sour milk in my coffee, I can laugh and say, ‘I guess I wasn’t meant to have coffee this morning. I’ll make some tea instead.’ I feel grateful that I have a cupboard full of delicious tea options, and it’s really difficult to hold a negative emotion at the same time as gratitude.
So if I’m annoyed that I’m out of milk, but I’m grateful that I have the means to make myself something else, that I have clean water and a boiler that makes it hot in a matter of seconds, then I can quickly move on from my negative emotion. I can even be grateful that I spit the sour milk out before I swallowed it, and that it landed in the sink instead of the floor. I may even manage to be thankful that something interrupted my normal routine taking me a bit out of my comfort zone.
When I’m operating out of gratitude, I can save my energy for the things that matter for me. I may make plans to get coffee with a friend and if I’m sharp enough, I ask to meet near a supermarket where I can pick up more coffee and fresh milk. Instead of grumbling and being irritated, I can deal with the same situation in a more positive manner. Even without changing the outside circumstances, I feel much better on the inside and I feel empowered to choose how my day is going to go.
What’s the Point of Being Grateful?
In every situation, there is something to be grateful for. It may not come naturally at first, but with practice, it will only get easier and easier.
I don’t miss the days where I felt like the helpless victim, everything was happening to me, and I believed I was completely disempowered to do anything about it. Now I know that I can choose what to focus on, I can make each moment better just by shifting my perspective a tiny bit, and I can feel good each and every day.
If you would like to take back the power over your life, try a gratitude practice! Or join my gratitude challenge on Instagram! Read about some of the ways you can practice gratitude here:
Thank You For Reading This – Some different approaches to practising gratitude.