Things never go my way.
I’m always messing up.
They never listen to me.
I don’t matter.
Ever had any of these thoughts? I know I have—more than I care to admit.
I get it. Some days are hard. Sometimes we make mistakes.
We all have those thoughts of self-pity and doubt. While it can be challenging to avoid those negative thoughts, we can choose to exchange our self-pity for gratitude.
Self-pity keeps our eyes on blame, fear, and discontent. If we are not careful, self-pity will immobilize us to our past and hold us hostage to our mistakes. Self-pity keeps us absorbed in our unhappy thoughts and our troubles. We make everything about us.
But friends, self-pity wants to steal the best of us and a keep us from who we are meant to be.
We fight against self-pity when we focus on the goodness and glory of Christ. Out of our praise for Christ, our hearts overflow with gratitude.
Gratitude centers us on what it means to be loved, redeemed, restored, and sustained by Christ.
“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” 1 Timothy 4:4-6
If you are ready to kick self-pity to the curb so you can grow in your relationship with Christ and create a healthier life, try these three steps.
Start with the one.
When choosing to practice gratitude, it can seem a little daunting. Where do you start? Friend, simply start with the one. Identify one thing, one person, or one experience you are grateful for.
There’s no one “right” way to begin to express an attitude of gratitude. Pick what works for you and add it to a regular part of your day.
Before your feet hit the floor in the morning, go ahead and express gratitude to God.
Starting with just one statement of gratitude will begin to reshape your thoughts from self-pity.
When you find yourself focused on negative thoughts, think of one.
When your spouse does something to irritate you, think of the one.
When your teen’s attitude is pushing you over the edge, think of the one.
Focusing on one area of gratitude can lead to another grateful thought, then another, and another. Before you know it, you are more focused on the good than your toxic thoughts. You start to see the hand of God all around you instead of what you think are areas of thought.
Try it out and see what happens.
Write it out.
Choosing to keep a gratitude journal or gratitude list helps to keep our focus on the good. Setting time aside forces our brains to reflect on our day and process our emotions in a healthy way. We get to experience that aha moment of “Wow, I have a lot to be thankful for.”
Whether you choose to keep a paper journal or a running list on your cell, taking intentional time to reflect on gratitude will help keep your heart tender. The more you write down over time, the more you start to quickly identify the good in your life. You start to see how God is working on your behalf even in the uncomfortable season.
Creating a consistent practice of writing your gratitude will help you to see more positives than negatives, especially when we choose to focus on the people in our lives.
Writing out our gratitude is particularly helpful on challenging days. We can reflect on the good that has already occurred in our lives, helping to bring light in a dark moment.
Get to writing friends!
Say it out loud.
Taking the time to express appreciation and gratitude for the relationships in our lives helps up to develop and maintain stronger relationships with the special people in our lives. We deepen our connections when we stop taking our friendships and relationships for granted.
Where self-pity causes us to look at what we think people have done TO us, gratitude helps us to see what people have done FOR you.
Gratitude helps us to see others in a new way.
Instead of seeing everything our spouses, children, or friends may not do, we see what they are doing. So be sure to SAY something.
Whether you choose to say thank you to the person who held the door or buy a gift for a neighbor who helped with your yard, acknowledging the contributions of others impacts both our heart and theirs.
Be just as vocal about expressing your appreciation as you are about expressing your frustration.
Don’t just say thank you. Instead be specific about why you are grateful.
For example, your husband cooked dinner. Instead of saying “Thanks” when he prepares your plate say, “Babe, I appreciate you cooking dinner tonight. Thank you for helping out so I could get some rest.” Expressing the why behind your gratitude helps to positively reinforces their contributions.
Additionally, saying what we are grateful for out loud becomes a part of our praise to Christ. We are using our words to speak life and remind ourselves of Christ’s faithfulness in our lives.
In the morning driving to work, take time to praise God for all He has and is doing in your life. Praise is hard to do when we are stuck in self-pity mode. Discipling our thoughts to focus on gratitude helps us to exercise self-control instead of self-pity. No matter what is happening around us, we can choose to not allow it to impact what is happening in us.
Now friend, practicing gratitude and seeing the benefits take time. Taking time to write in your gratitude journal for a week is great. Please don’t be surprised if you don’t feel dramatically different or see any benefits right away. Cultivating gratitude takes place over time when you are intentional and consistent. Stick with it! The changes will come.
Intentionally choosing gratitude aligns our focus back on praise. We shift our thoughts from our lack, our problems, our worries, and our bad attitudes back to Christ. In everything, we can give thanks to the one who has given His all.
Before you know it, gratitude will be a part of who you are.
Cheering you on,