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Being grateful

timetogrowupat46 posted 2/7/2020 18:06 PM

One of the things that was absent for me was gratitude. Being grateful for my BS, my job, having 5 kids, everyone being healthy, having opportunities in life. That lack of gratitude led to me not appreciating my wife, my kids, my job, which led to me not giving back, to put all those things on the line.

I think a lot of that lack of gratitude comes from a number of things:

Being arrogant, self centered, expecting too much, insecurity, looking for validation, lack of self love, the expecting others to give me validation and to feel better about myself, seeking approval (rather than it coming from myself), having narcissitic traits.

A lot of this I can trace to my upbringing, having a narcissistic mother, always trying to please her, not wanting to upset her, make her cry (which she used as a manipulative tactic and still does). I was insecure, I lacked boundaries.

If you are grateful for things in life, then you protect that, you do your best to give back. I wasnít grateful to my BS, who supported me when I got a new job in the US. I was more interested in getting the job and earning more money, a new adventure in a new country, rather than look at how my BS felt about it, making sure she was ok and making sure that things would be ok for her and the kids (two kids at the time). To appreciate how big of an upheaval this was for her and for the kids. Taking them away from school, again. Having to make new friends, being so far away from family and their support. I was selfish. If I had been grateful then, I would have listened to what my BS wanted, how she felt about it, how the kids felt about it, make it right for them, including not moving or at least making the transition as easy as possible. Not getting wrapped up in my new job and being home more, getting my wife a car so she could get around, go places, take the kids to the park.

I wasnít grateful for my marriage, our happy life. Instead of giving, I took. I controlled, if it was something I wanted, was ok about, I supported that and made it happen. If it wasnít something I was ok with then I dragged my feet. Pure selfishness. The same in my job. I was doing well, I got great reviews, I got promoted and I became big headed. So when the AP came along, I was ok going to the gym at 9, taking long lunch, running in the morning, I was unfirable, I could come up with bullshit if I needed too, who would question it, I worked hard, I was doing well. Instead of being grateful to have a job, to earn good money and to make sure I put everything into giving back, to earn that good wage, I took advantage of that and almost lost my job, like I took advantage of my wife supporting me in my career, to give me the time to do my job, take on looking after 5 kids, a big house, renting out a house. I took advantage of that to take the AP to lunch, to text during the day, the night, at weekends.

Those that have suffered the most though because of this are my BS and our kids. They didnít get the love and support that they deserved. They didnít get the appreciation they deserved.

That it took having an affair, to losing my family and being lucky not to have lost my job, to really look at how grateful I am to have had such a loving and supportive wife, to have 5 great kids and the opportunity to have a good income and good life. It has also made me look at my upbringing, how much I let my mum affect me and our family. The lack of boundaries.

When our youngest was born, I started to think how old I was going to be by the time she graduated, having to change diapers again, sleepless nights. Instead of being grateful that we had another baby, a new member of our family. Now I feel so lucky to have three young kids, that I can still go to daddy/daughter dances, still do things with them. I am grateful for that, feel young for that, being proud of that.

The reason I post this is because I would like to get other peoples view points on this, to help dig deeper on the underlying issues behind this, like entitlement, self centeredness. Any good reading on becoming grateful or other posts on this. What did you do to turn this around?

EvolvingSoul posted 2/9/2020 20:55 PM

Hi there timetogrowupat46,

Your post is a good step. You're essentially claiming your story and that's not easy to do when you're the villain of the story instead of the hero. Being able to own all the parts of yourself, though, even the ones you're not proud of, is an important part of the process of becoming whole.

I think gratitude can be cultivated. You've looked at all the ways that you weren't grateful (there may yet be some of which you are not aware) but recognizing a problem is not the same as solving it. To change your thinking you'll need to do things differently so one thing you can start with right away is a gratitude practice that you do every day. Keeping a journal in which you list things you're grateful for is a good way to start, but for me even more than that I look for things to be grateful for throughout my day and I thank people/beings for the things they do that help me and that help other people live better lives.

Examples:

Food. A lot of people take access to a wide variety of foods for granted. They go into the grocery store, load up a cart and hand over a few pieces of paper or stick a plastic chip into a card reader. But have you thought about all of the many people and how much effort is involved producing all that food and shipping it and storing it properly and stocking it on the shelves and having someone there to help you with your purchase? What about the animals (if you're a meat eater) that gave up their lives so that you can sustain yours? Every meal, you can express gratitude to all the beings whose collective efforts made it possible.

Services. So many jobs are thankless. Think about the person who picks up your trash every week, if you have that service. Imagine what life would be like if there were no one doing that job. Trash everywhere. People who do these kinds of jobs almost never get thanked. Even if you never see that person, every time you drop your trash in the can with the knowledge that it's going to disappear from your life in a day or two, silently thank them for being willing to do this service.

Beauty. Anything beautiful can be a cue for gratitude. I live in the desert and a couple of days ago I was driving down a dirt road on a cold, crisp morning and stopped the car to watch a hawk winging its way along, silhouetted against a crystalline blue sky with a snow covered peak in the distance. I thought about how glad I was for the cold weather, the fresh air and the existence of hawks in the world. These little moments can happen many times a day if you are paying attention.

The people who love you. As you deepen your gratitude practice what you will discover is that the most precious thing you have is the connection with the people you love and that love you. Tell them. Show them. Thank them for their presence in your life, often.

Things that get in the way of gratitude are numbing behaviors and comparing what you have with what someone else has. Avoid those, work to cultivate gratitude and I think you will find yourself with a lot more joy in your life.

Best to you from a fellow EvolvingSoul.

66charger posted 2/10/2020 01:25 AM

Beauty. Anything beautiful can be a cue for gratitude. I live in the desert and a couple of days ago I was driving down a dirt road on a cold, crisp morning and stopped the car to watch a hawk winging its way along, silhouetted against a crystalline blue sky with a snow covered peak in the distance. I thought about how glad I was for the cold weather, the fresh air and the existence of hawks in the world. These little moments can happen many times a day if you are paying attention.

The people who love you. As you deepen your gratitude practice what you will discover is that the most precious thing you have is the connection with the people you love and that love you. Tell them. Show them. Thank them for their presence in your life, often.

Your post for finding joy in life is also relevant for those near the end of life. As we face the passing, the little moments you speak of are magnified 1000 times. The hawk, the clear blue skys and clean air were written for a different subject, but resonated to those who need a little light in the darkenss of grief.

You wrote anything beautiful can be a cue for gratitude. Please accept our gratitude for your written words.

[This message edited by 66charger at 7:35 AM, February 10th (Monday)]

wantstorepair posted 2/10/2020 05:43 AM

Timetogrowup46,

Thank you for starting this post. Reading your words was looking in a mirror, although Iíd be TTGU47...so many years wasted being an ungrateful and selfish person, and hurting so many people along the way, first and foremost my BW and great kids. I started a daily gratitude journal and wrote three things down that I was grateful for to start my day in the right mindset. Doing this is certainly beneficial, but I actually was using it to minimize the damage done and ignore reality. For instance, writing a that I am grateful for my BW and kidsí security and safety today is true, but completely ignores the reality that they are not safe...what if one of my AP BPs decided to come get revenge for me wrecking their family? How safe are they really? I have no idea, and no control now that my selfish actions are done, and I did the exact opposite of creating security and safety, so being grateful for it today is more like a wish, dream, luck or hope. I guess what
I am saying is absolutely live with gratitude and humility, but also donít ignore the absolute destruction, and consequences (even the ones you have luckily not faced, like losing your job) or minimize your BW,s pain and the true awfulness of what you did. I have started going back to my gratitude journal and wring the reality of each day to keep things in perspective and use that to drive my actions now to make sure I am truly acting and living with gratitude because I am acknowledging the consequences of my selfish, narcissist actions.

hikingout posted 2/10/2020 09:20 AM

Great post. And funny I read this after I just posted to wantstorepair recommending a gratitude journal to just read he has one ;-)

TellTailHeart posted 2/10/2020 14:09 PM

Being grateful may seem obvious but sometimes we have to hit rock bottom to see what we lost and what we can do to come out of our denial and false life. Thank you for posting.

timetogrowupat46 posted 2/10/2020 14:12 PM

Thank you for the replies.

EvolvingSoul.

I totally agree with what you say and writing a gratitude journal is something I will do along with continuing to practice gratitude in everything I do, not just for my BS and our kids, my job, but, as you say, being grateful for other things.

One of the things we like to do is go to Goodwill to buy things that we need, look for bargains, buy fabric that my BS can use for her sewing projects. We are grateful that such a place exists, for people to donate what they no longer need, rather than it go in the landfill. Grateful that people do donate and to reciprocate that by donating back to Goodwill for things we no longer need or have a use for.

We like to go down to the lake and pick up trash, not because we want recognition or thanks, but because we appreciate going there and get a lot of good from doing so and keeping the place clean, and spending time together. If someone walks past and shows their appreciation, then that is nice, but it is not something I look for, or use it to brag and tell people about, looking for thanks, like I would have done before.

66charger

Couldn't agree more.

wantstorepair

No, we don't ignore or hide away from the destruction and deep hurt we have caused our BSs and families or minimise the pain and trauma I caused my BS, including consequences that didn't happen, ie not losing my job. I will never forget what I did and the destruction and trauma I caused to my BS and my family. But use that to change, practice humility and gratitude to my BS.
And as EvolvingSoul said:

Things that get in the way of gratitude are numbing behaviors and comparing what you have with what someone else has. Avoid those, work to cultivate gratitude and I think you will find yourself with a lot more joy in your life.

Zugzwang posted 2/10/2020 17:52 PM

Great post about being grateful and in it being mindful.

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