How many times does it take to listen to the same advice over and over before things truly make sense? I am sure we have all heard cliche phrases said by others who mean well, yet we hear it so often we become immune to it. We perhaps acknowledge it as wisdom we already know, stored away somewhere in our minds, and beyond that we don’t give it any more thought. Yet when something drastic happens to us, perhaps something we have never dealt with before, we suddenly see and hear the world completely differently. Perhaps, at first, we see the world in a darker light. Then as we discover new truths about ourselves, we may start to see things in the perspective we need the most when we are feeling vulnerable and in strong need of comfort. And if we are open to improving ourselves, we may attempt to change our way of thinking, even if only in the smallest of ways, which can lead to unexpected improvements in our overall perspective on life.
I find myself rediscovering common sayings and appreciating them in a different sense now that I can relate it to my life. Simple things such as “you need to love yourself first before you can truly love others” or “life is a gift, be grateful for what you have” speak to me so differently now, I can barely recognize my old way of thinking. As I hear it now, I recognize it for not its simplicity but its complexity and depth. It hits me in a way that takes me away for several moments with a modest sense of enlightenment and I find myself puzzled at how I didn’t see it this way before. I then look back at times when I had heard this saying before, perhaps in some other variation, and had thought at the time that I understood it. Yet I didn’t truly know how that specifically applied to my life. I never once questioned if I did or did not love myself fully.
Similarly, I thought I understood the importance of being grateful for what I had. Yet I never devoted much time or thought to actually appreciating both the little things as well as the important things in my life. Now, having been to such a low point in my life emotionally, I have had to re-learn to see the positive things in my life – however small they may or may not be. I never really knew what the greater purpose of being grateful would be. That the sheer power of showing simple gratitude allows one to reflect and appreciate one’s day with a focus on positivity instead of negativity. And with practice, this can become a habit that leads to a brighter way of processing life.
I decided to make this an exercise I would do each night before going to bed after having read about it in one of the self help books I was reading at the time. I brought it up to my boyfriend as a suggestion for both of us to do and he agreed to do it with me. It has now been about four weeks that each night, before going to sleep, we each take turns expressing three things we appreciate about ourselves. Surprisingly, this has turned out to be very difficult for me. Especially having to say what I appreciate about myself out loud for him to hear. Its a very odd feeling and even eye-opening when your mind struggles to find things, but over time it gets a little easier and becomes more natural of a process. It has helped me search for the things I do like about myself and to remind myself of the wonderful qualities that I do possess and find enjoyable. With that, I have learned to reflect on them and see myself in a worthy and positive perspective.
Along with that, we also take turn each night to say three things we each are grateful for that happened that day. Its a lovely way to think back on the day, look for some of the good things, however small they may be, and share them with each other in gratitude . Often times we find that we are both grateful for one particular thing that happened to us both and other times we end up showing gratitude for something one of us did for the other. This has become a wonderful way to share a few minutes connecting with each other in complete positivity. It has also allowed each of us to explore and learn more about the other.
This exercise did take a couple of weeks to feel comfortable to do and to start seeing the little positive changes. But now, it has become part of my day I really look forward to. I enjoy sharing this with him and to hear about what he has to say. I highly recommend it to anyone who is struggling with seeing your own greatness or seeing the positives in your day to day life. Its not that each of these items we bring up are neccesarily magnificent on their own, but its the overall change in the way we think and feel grateful that is the true brilliance of the exercise. As we keep on practicing this, I hope to continue to grow my self appreciation and gratitude – and with that, my self-love and positive outlook on life.