What has been your biggest struggle as we completed another week of quarantine? The main issue my patients seemed to struggle with, this past week, was feeling unmotivated to do more with this time and then guilty about that. Besides the obvious benefits of forgiving ourselves for this time our nervous systems seem to need to adjust to this new reality, are there tools to feel less guilty, that could even lead to more motivation? Thankfully, there’s an enjoyable one, that really seems to help. I call it the Self Gratitude Exercise.
Once we appreciate the good of who we are, it will be much easier to be compassionate when we are, inevitably, performing less than we’d like to. For this, we’re going to do a streaming gratitude practice towards ourselves. Streaming gratitude is where we make one gratitude statement after another- not spending too long on any particular one or giving it too much thought.
The statements all begin the same: in this case, the statement will begin with “I am grateful to myself for___” and then you’ll fill in the blank. It’s important to structure the statements in this way so that the brain isn’t thinking completely spontaneously- as it may tend to go off on negative tangents. When you fill in the blank with something true, your brain won’t reject the statement that you are grateful to yourself and you will slowly transform to feeling self gratitude and love.
To start, I want you to do this for 5 minutes. If that seems impossible, you can say 10 statements, or some other parameters, but the key is that you decide before you start. Otherwise, we tend to quit when we run out of easy things to say rather than pushing ourselves to keep going to the point of actually shifting the way we feel. Usually, it will take at least 5 minutes of doing this exercise to shift the way you feel about yourself.
So, try this now. Start saying “I am grateful to myself for ____” and fill in the blank with such things as characteristics that you like about yourself- like kind, thoughtful or funny; things you’ve done (no matter how small), things you accomplished in the past, decisions you’ve made that you are proud of, things you’ve done for others, or just that you’ve kept going and are trying things like this exercise to feel better.
Commit to doing this practice each day, 10 statements or more, and then 5 minutes, any time you are starting to feel down.
If you’d like to know more about how you react to difficult situations and get a free recording and tips to empower you to shift the way you feel, take my Free Quiz
Enjoy you this week!
Alicia Ruelaz Maher, M.D.