Today's twentysomethings, aka Gen Y, have a reputation for being overly self-focused and entitled. Although there may be some truth to this stereotype, it's neither 100% true nor 100% negative. There are upsides to focusing your awareness on yourself, ESPECIALLY if it has to do with gratitude and appreciation. Around this time of year, it is very common to list all the things you are grateful that you HAVE like health, family, friends, the roof over your head, and so on. But how often does your list of gratitude include statements that are solely about who you ARE?
This Thanksgiving, consider making a list of self-gratitude - spread some love to all those parts of you that are neglected, or shut down, or just not celebrated nearly enough. Thank yourself for having the courage to look for a new job, being open to falling in love, showing compassion to your friends, practicing frugalness to achieve more financial balance during this difficult time, demonstrating enthusiasm by going to the gym, expressing creativity, or loving yourself enough to break a bad habit. Acknowledge yourself for the times you have gone out of your comfort zone to take a step toward a goal. Appreciate the moments that have been challenging in your life and be grateful to yourself for getting through them. Consider what makes you special and be grateful for the unique role you play on this earth.
Now the key to all this self-appreciation is to not make it about your ego. Self-gratitude is not meant to inflate your sense of self, but rather to recognize and appreciate who you are separate from what you have or what you do. Why is this important? Along my own journey and in my work as a life coach, I've learned that outer experience is a reflection of inner reality. The more accepting of ourselves we are, the more accepting we become of our circumstances no matter what they are. A sense of entitlement and a need for instant gratification simply come from not being fulfilled with who we are on the inside.
So begin your gratitude practice today and give yourself the validation you are craving. Don't wait for someone else to do it for you! Even bring appreciation and acceptance to the things you are not that fond of about yourself. For example, I am not a very patient person and I criticize myself for that. But I can bring light and gratitude to this quality simply by shifting my awareness to: "I am grateful that I am aware of my impatience and am practicing slowing down."
So start now! Write your own self-reflective gratitude list; acknowledge yourself, your accomplishments, your characteristics, what you have learned, your willingness to make your first Thanksgiving turkey (that's one of mine) or even just the fact that each day you get yourself out of bed. Self appreciation and recognition is not selfish or narcissistic. Rather, it creates a more loving energy field around you; thereby, attracting and radiating more love out to all the people and things you are grateful for.
And as the end of the year approaches, many of us look back at the beginning of the year with all the bright shiny resolutions, and feel a little pang for what we did or did not do. Don't beat yourself up! Every moment, every day, every year we make choices, and if you didn't get to change or move forward with something this year, that doesn't mean you can't next year. Be grateful for your self-awareness, and know that it is never too late to affect change.
And as Thanksgiving approaches, remember that practicing gratitude ALL year round is a key to sanity - don't save it all up for turkey day.
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