“Gratitude is strongest, clearest, most robust, and radical when things are really hard.” ~Diana Butler Bass
For most of us, the relationships and connections in our lives are not without complication. Even with the people we love most in the world, there are disagreements and hurts both small and large. Sometimes we tend these wounds quickly and move forward feeling whole and deeply connected; other times, there’s disappointment or heartache that still needs care. While healing certain hurts can be a long journey, starting with gratefulness can open the door to repair. When we begin with an expression of appreciation for someone even in the midst of hurt or conflict, it creates the possibility of healing.
As you look at your constellation of relationships that sustain you, identify one that could use a little healing. You might choose to tend something as simple as a gap in communication that you’d like to bridge or something more significant. Gently orient your heart to this relationship, why you care about this person, and what they mean to your life. Holding them in your mind with tenderness, experiment with one of the following actions:
- If you’ve been wanting to apologize to someone or even waiting on an apology, try communicating what you appreciate about this person and your shared relationship; see what opens up.
- If there’s been a lapse in communication, send a note or text that communicates something specific you’re missing about this person’s presence; from there, see if it feels possible to make a plan to reconnect.
- If there’s ongoing tension or struggle with someone, try thanking the other person for staying present to the relationship even during a challenging time.
How did it feel to express your gratitude for this person even when your heart felt vulnerable or hurt? Did things soften for you? Did your expression of appreciation open up the possibility of healing? What might change in our relationships if we made a practice of beginning with gratefulness when healing is needed?
Moving Past Resentment to Grateful Living, a short essay by Dr. Kerry Howells
Please share your reflections below if you feel moved. We’d love to hear what emerges for you from today’s practice.