After all this talk so far this week about dysregulation and feeling unsettled, which happens when a relationship isn’t going well, we’re going to shift a bit into thankfulness. Finding something to be thankful for makes a huge difference in your body and your ability to regulate yourself! This is not about denying something is going poorly or that there isn’t suffering when there is. It’s easy to get sucked into the bad. Actually, our brains are wired to really be on alert for the bad things. That’s what helps us to avoid painful things in the future. It’s important and it helps keep us alive.
Can you imagine if you touched a hot stovetop if you didn’t avoid it the next time? That kind of avoidance keeps us safe. But sometimes our brains take it to an extreme. Instead of just avoiding hot burners, maybe we start avoiding kitchens. Everywhere there is potential to be hurt and so we start eating only cold salads and restrict our relationships and contact with others. It ends up not being helpful. It may seem like a silly example and it is certainly exaggerated, but this kind of thing happens in our brains. We get sucked into the negative and maybe we’re safer, but we’re also more isolated. And possibly stuck only eating cold food for the rest of our lives. Gah!
I’m Rebecca Thompson Hitt and this is the All Relationships Can Heal Podcast. Today we’re talking about gratitude and being thankful and what that has to do with healing relationships.
Bringing in gratitude or something that you’re thankful for literally changes the chemicals released in your body.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – Proverb
Take a moment and find something in your space that brings you joy. I have a picture in my the space I’m sitting in right now of a tranquil Mexican cobblestone street lined with quaint joined houses with a wagon in the foreground filled with plants. The colors are yellows, orange, and browns and is very soothing to me. When I look at the picture, I notice I take a deep breath and settle into my seat. I feel my shoulders relax and feel some happiness in the center of my chest.
What can you find in your space that brings you joy? Can you see it, hold it in your hands, smell it, touch it? Allow yourself to do that and notice what it feels like in your body when you do.
The shifts in your body can happen very fast when your mind and emotional brain are engaged. This is a resource state, a place where you can settle back down into this moment, in the here and now, feeling your chair underneath you, feeling your breath, and connecting with yourself.
The psychological benefits of gratitude include more positive emotions and thoughts, more aware and awake, increased self-satisfaction, and enhanced mood. The physical benefits include a stronger immune system, less body pains and aches, optimum blood pressure and cardiac functioning, and better sleep-wake cycles. Social benefits include better communication, more empathy, stronger interpersonal relationships, more likability among group members, and more involvement as a team member.
Why does this matter? When a relationship isn’t really working, we get stuck in the negative. We only see the things that aren’t working. And that is definitely a sign that the relationship needs attention and support, so it isn’t about ignoring that.
BUT do you think if you’re sleeping better, you have more empathy, and you’re communicating better that you’re going to be more likely to find your way through the healing process? My bets are on gratitude for the win.
Why is being thankful important to healing? When we’re in a state of constriction, pulling into ourselves to be safe because something, like a relationship, doesn’t feel good, we’re in a state of protection. We keep ourselves safe, but we’re isolated and we’re cut off from growth. Bruce Lipton, a neurobiologist and epigeneticist, says that down to our cells, we’re either in a state of growth or a state of protection. Healing requires growth and opening to the world, even if it is a small corner of our lives that we can change. Getting in touch with our gratitude opens the cells of our bodies and makes room for healing. It is essential as we shift our neurobiology and our physiology for healing to occur. Even in brief moments, it makes a difference.
You can bring in gratitude when you wake up, during your day at any time, or before you go to bed. You can do this by yourself or with your family members, writing down or sharing one thing that you’re grateful for from your day. It’s a habit, a learned skill, that has the power to change our minds, create hope, growth, and our bodies. And it’s free! And gratitude is an important part of the process of healing.
How do you celebrate gratitude in your everyday life? What are your gratitude practices? I’d love to hear.
This is the All Relationships Can Heal podcast and I’m Rebecca Thompson Hitt. Please join us tomorrow for FUN Friday and find out what FUN has to do with healing relationships!
https://positivepsychology.com/neuroscience-of-gratitude/ Retrieved on Monday, October 7, 2019