My Inner Struggle with Gratitude and Acceptance

“Ingratitude is a crime more despicable than revenge, which is only returning evil for evil, while ingratitude returns evil for good.”

― William George Jordan

Being a Problem-Solver isn’t a bad thing. It comes in handy in many ways and has led me to much success and resilience within devastating circumstances.

However, being someone who is always looking for the problem to solve makes it difficult to be in gratitude. And, believing that I can always make things better prevents me from practicing acceptance of what is happening in the moment. Both of these things can affect every area of my life.

My to-do list is endless. I’m never satisfied that I have done enough or have everything I need. I’m rarely present. In my head, I am going over what I don’t have, haven’t done, or what do I need that’s not here. I can throw myself into a shame spiral telling myself that I haven’t accomplished enough.

At the core of all of this, there is a desire to control the uncontrollable. My desire is to create a feeling of certainty in an uncertain world.

For me, it’s a result of trauma. It was brought to my attention years ago that I live in a state of hyper-vigilance.

Hyper-vigilance is a heightened state of alertness where you are extremely sensitive to your surroundings, including other people. You are trying to prepare for hidden dangers, that almost never materialize.

It’s like doomsday prepping for something that already happened in the past.

If I am constantly preparing for the worst, I cannot even see the good to appreciate it. If I think I can fix everything, I cannot relax into accepting the present moment.

Happiness can exist only in acceptance.

– George Orwell

I would love to say I’m cured and I am just taking things as they come and smiling at the daisies. But, the reality is that I have to be aware of my mindset and negative self-talk.

The way I started this process was to allow my mind to go wild with judgment and just listen. It was like a snowball effect. As it went downhill, it gathered more and more ammunition of things to complain about until I felt as if the whole world was falling apart. I realized how unhealthy it felt.

When I find my mind is ranting about everything wrong, I have to gently counter it with the observation of things that are going right. I have to ask, is it true?

Most of the time, it’s not true. Once I challenge it, the thought loses its strength and the rant seems futile.

When I find myself overthinking or feeling hyper-vigilant, I have to challenge it. I offer positive proof that my fear is wrong until I can retake my mind and direct it to what I want it to focus on.

Sometimes, I have to give it permission to surrender. Other times, I have to write down 30 things I’m happy to have, do or be. I have a gratitude journal and sometimes, I have to read past entries to remember all the reasons I have to be in gratitude.

Some days, the reason to be happy is because of how far I have come from where I used to be.

I work at not allowing my mind to overlook all that I have accomplished physically, emotionally and mentally. The more I do it, the easier it has become. I can douse the fire immediately as soon as I smell the smoke.

There is also nothing wrong with seeking out a professional to assist in learning how to cope with hyper-vigilance.

“Have patience with all things. But, first of all with yourself.”

― Francis de Sales

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