February 2018
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giving thanks: what I learned as a child vs. what I learned as an adult.


My parents taught me something about giving thanks that has stayed fresh in my mind for many years. (not fresh as in crisp spring leaves, fresh as in just-dumped manure) By their actions (which rendered their words meaningless), they taught me not to show any gratitude upon the promise of a gift, but only upon the receipt -- the proof. If they offered something and I showed any excitement or gratitude, they would turn that offer into a bribe and force me to earn the 'gift.' By the time I earned it, I had no gratitude left.

I disagree with much of their parenting, but this seemingly-small thing rankles me more than most of their teachings. I LOVE to be grateful! I love feeling an outpouring of positive energy toward the person who has been generous to me -- most of the time I love this feeling even more than the actual gift. But if someone promises me a gift, I feel an uncertainty that lasts until the promise is fulfilled, and that uncertainty drains much of the positivity from the gift.

However, that attitude has recently been changing. A few months ago, I picked up a flyer printed with an affirmation for receiving unexpected blessings. At that time my partner and I had very strained finances, so I figured it couldn't hurt to try it. Shortly after that, my partner finally received the promotion that he had been working toward for over a year (with three attempts that didn't pan out). Things had already been building in that direction, so I'm not sure how much effect the affirmations had on our finances, but the important thing was the effect they had on me as I said these words over and over again:

I dwell in the midst of infinite abundance; the abundance of [God/dess] is my infinite Source. The river of life never stops flowing. It flows through me into lavish expression. Good comes to me through unexpected avenues. God/dess works in myriad ways to bless me. I now open my [spirit, heart, soul,] mind [and body] to receive my good. Nothing is too good to be true. Nothing is too wonderful to happen. With [God/dess] as my Source, [life amazes me with its beauty]. I give freely and fearlessly into life and life gives back to me with fabulous increase. Blessings come in expected and unexpected ways. [God/dess] provides for me in wondrous ways. I am grateful. Thank you [God/dess]!
(I changed the bracketed bits because my God/dess is genderfree)


As I said these words aloud, I put myself into a mindset of gratitude. I changed my focus from wondering whether or not it would 'work' and just felt the gratitude as if it already happened. I've never been able to do that before! The first time I did it laughingly, as a experiment (acting melodramatic and making extravagant gestures) -- but the peace and renewed faith I felt afterwards motivated me to keep doing it. Before, I always felt like I was lying or being naive if I said 'thank you' for something that hadn't happened yet, but now I understand that gratitude is not just a reaction caused by outside events; it is an attitude I can create within myself to kick-start a flow of positivity.

and I'm really grateful for this topic because I needed to reflect on this right now. So thank you, therealljidol! and thanks to all my idol-ing friends who unintentionally urged me to do mine (since I want to read your already-posted entries, you overachievers!). ;-)

LJ idol topic 3: "The Giving of Thanks." ((please vote for me if you got something from reading this!))

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Comments
mme_furiosa ══╣╠══
What a terrible approach to gratitude. I much prefer yours.

I was raised in the Roman Catholic church (which took a very long time to get over), but my father always taught me to pray by thanking god for providing for me in advance. Although I don't often pray these days, when I find myself in need, I always think of those things I lack and send a mental thank you note to the universe for them.

So far, so good.

Sending you much love, and hoping you are blessed with much abundance in this moment...
belenen ══╣nuzzle╠══
oh, that's how I was told to pray too -- but you know, the actions louder than words thing...

thank you so much for the love and blessings ♥
collectively ══╣White kitty╠══
What a beautiful affirmation! I agree with you completely; that's a much better attitude to have (and, I think, one that's much more likely to bring the things you are looking for!).
belenen ══╣artistic╠══
I agree! ;-) thanks for the comment!
rosepurr ══╣╠══
I understand how you feel. I'm glad you've found your peace.
belenen ══╣egyptian╠══
me too ♥ thank you.
mister_smartass ══╣╠══
the desiderata is my thing

http://hobbes.ncsa.uiuc.edu/desiderata.html
belenen ══╣beautiful╠══
I love that!
mister_smartass ══╣╠══
yeah it covers prettymuch everything. :-)
elva_undine ══╣╠══
Interesting; I always thought we were to give thanks ahead of time because we can trust God to provide.
belenen ══╣artless╠══
haha, that's what I was told, but actions speak louder than words. But the more I grow up the more I experience the truth -- that I can trust God/dess to provide. ;-)
anchasta ══╣╠══
Beautiful! :) Positivity and affirmations do work sometimes, and it is extra sweet when they do!
belenen ══╣interconnectedness╠══
I agree! as long as they work on the inside of me, it's just an added bonus if they work on the outside ;-)
roina_arwen ══╣Christmas Angels╠══
Lovely! It's amazing what having a positive outlook can accomplish sometimes. *hugs*
belenen ══╣interconnectedness╠══
definitely!
brighid0704 ══╣╠══
This was really excellent. Very deep and thought-provoking.

You'll definitely receive a vote from me.
belenen ══╣vivacious╠══
oh, wow, thank you! *beams*
baxaphobia ══╣╠══
Interesting
I can sort of relate to the "gift thing". My situation was a little different, but this makes sense. It was not til I met true friends who give without expectation that I accepted without hesitation. Nice job.
belenen ══╣writing╠══
Re: Interesting
thank you ;-)
angstzeit ══╣╠══
I remember feeling a change with my parents. I was off at college and had been a few years away from home. They helped support me and I visited as often as I could. But it felt wrong. It felt like we were each bribing the other. Then I refused their money for a while. And everything changed. I became my own person and found myself visiting my parents because I loved them. Their gifts came as offerings of love without strings.

It made my relationship with my parents the positive thing it is today.

Thanks for this post.
belenen ══╣writing╠══
yes -- sometimes we just need to break an old cycle. I'm glad it worked out that way!

thanks for your comment. ;-)
tulip_in_yellow ══╣╠══
Back in college I was friends with this girl that believed that you had to lavish other people in gifts to make them love you. I recall Christmases where she'd buy me extravagant gifts and I was a broke college student that couldn't remotely afford a gift of equal value. It got so out control with her that I eventually had to talk to her about how she was replacing money with pure affection. It never seemed to sink in, so I cut ties with her. There were other factors in the ending of the friendship, but feeling like I had to prove that we were best friends based on the dollar amount of my gifts...it just made my soul feel dirty.

Profound entry that honestly made me think. Thank you for that :)
belenen ══╣writing╠══
oh man, yeah that would make my soul feel dirty too...

Thank you so much for the lovely comment! ;-)
monkeysugarmama ══╣╠══
Jeez, the things our parents do to mess us up!

Your new prayer and newfound gratitude are so much more positive.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
I agree! But then, without those tangles I don't think I'd have become as good at untangling truth ;-)
sushimustwrite ══╣╠══
The feeling of gratitude is often so much better than the actual gift. Besides, it's positive energy, and who doesn't love that?
belenen ══╣writing╠══
exactly!
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.