My observation over these many years in the therapist’s chair is that whatever you tend to focus on becomes your reality. If you focus on your problems, the people who hurt you, how difficult life is, or your financial difficulties, all of those things become magnified. They can become your identity if you’re not vigilant. Once identified, you actually begin to work against yourself in subtle, and not so subtle, ways. For instance, if you identify as oppressed, put upon, and broke, when an opportunity presents itself you, in all likelihood you will either miss it or dismiss it. It simply won’t fit your paradigm of how you see yourself and the world around you. You’ll immediately focus on all the reasons it won’t work and talk yourself out of it before giving it a reasonable shot.
Having an attitude oriented toward gratitude and possibilities is a sure antidote that can make a world of difference in your life. It starts with reorienting your focus.
So, for the next nine days leading up to Thanksgiving Day, here’s a suggestion: Do A Novena of Thanks. Each day focus on one blessing in your life—one thing for which you’re truly thankful, and meditate on that blessing for 24 hours. I’d recommend you make your list ahead of time and put each one on your calendar. Set reminders on your phone every hour or two each day to bring you back to that blessing so you don’t let the stress and busyness of the day bury it in your awareness. After all, that’s our basic problem, isn’t it? We let life dictate our thoughts and our mood. Use this as an opportunity to take control.
Now, I recognize that many of you are struggling with real problems, sometimes devastating and paralyzing pain. I don’t mean to minimize that in any way. But especially when things seem at their worst in our lives, this is when we need to focus on thanks and praise for blessings. It could be as simple as a comfortable pair of jeans, a compassionate friend, the food on your table, or the freedom and relative peace we enjoy as a nation. The soldiers who fight for our freedom and our Catholic faith are also things worthy of deep meditation. Perhaps think of nine special people throughout your life who have impacted you positively—from your kindergarten teacher to a saint who’s answered a prayer. Be creative.
Let’s make this year different. Let’s pre-game it, as they say, so when the Thanksgiving Day arrives, your heart will already be full of gratitude to make the celebration that much more meaningful.
Wishing you a blessed and joyful Thanksgiving.
Allison is also the Founder and President of www.CatholicTherapists.com, a nationwide network of dedicated Catholic therapists.
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