“Does not the gratitude of the dog put to shame any man who is ungrateful to his benefactors?” Saint Basil
“Yet we act as if simple cause and effect is at work. We push to find the one simple reason things have gone wrong. We look for the one action, or the one person, that created this mess. As soon as we find someone to blame, we act as if we’ve solved the problem.” Margaret Wheatley
“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.” A[phonse Karr
It is so hard to separate our minds from the hurts we experienced. We rehash the episodes in our minds over and over again until we can recite them to anyone spur of the moment. They become ingrained in our brains and sadly our hearts. Of course as the years pass we record a few more to the list which grows longer with the passing years. Somehow the list comforts us because it justifies our position cause and talking points. By now most friends acquaintances and friendly family members have heard it all multiple times.
Consider just who the tally sheet or sheets pertain to. It is most likely a family member or spouse. The feud continues for years, the walls get thicker, the incidences become more embellished and our hearts become cooler or cold. When the person’s name is mentioned our heart beats faster, our breath is quicker and we might even become light headed. Our minds go into overdrive with thoughts and speeches we would like to say to them. Of course the rhetoric is saved for a weary listener.
We never think of other family members who may just love us both. They are caught in the middle and forced to revisit our conjured prison cell. After so many years we most likely refrain from offering advice because so many times it has fallen on deaf ears. Of course the latest noise flash of words or actions leaves us questioning and delving for the truth in the situation. We can almost observe the sweat beading on the upset person.
How any person, at odds with another, gets to this point in time is actually easy. So many of us do it in various forms and depths. Of course any kind of long term bickering is unhealthy for the people involved as well as for those who are caught in the current crossfire. We can’t avoid it. I am boiling it down to jealousy, possessiveness, and insecurity. We don’t feel like we measure up to this other person who we see as deceitful in getting their way. They have something over us we assume and they receive more time, attention, money and support. We want what they have or we fear losing what we have to them. They appear indomitable to us wielding power and might. They make us feel insecure about our position.
We doubt our parents’ friends spouses’ ability to love us as much as they love this person. We need to be number one and if we are not we rebel with our fear and anxiety. Actually what we can’t fathom is how much we create our own reality through our fears and doubts. We make it happen. By destroying our relationships in one way or another we leave ashes and pain in the aftermath. Of course it becomes harder to see or face the reality of our dilemma. We totally blame the other person and again we review all of the hurts they inflicted on us. It builds up our resentment and anger and this allows us to keep up the barriers. We never look at the hurts we returned to them. Those are burnt away and hardly thought of or remembered.
In marriage the same is true. We remember the aches and pains and injustices. No matter how long one is married, there are plenty of times each person was perfectly justified if they walked away from the marriage. Maybe what keeps the marriage alive is the ability to let the painful issues dissolve. If we refuse to allow the bad things to filter into the future, we have a chance at maintaining an intact marriage. There are no magic potions just maybe a poor memory in regards to hurtful past events and a long memory of the kind and thoughtful episodes.
If you keep a tally going in marriage or in any relationship it becomes a competitive situation. If you mention three painful experiences I must come up with at least three worse ones or four to win. By the time we continue this progress, after many years it is no wonder we finally tire and walk away. The saddest thing is maybe the love was always there but buried under the walls of pain. Neither partner can exhibit the aches. That would be weakness and we need to win because we hurt the most and have suffered the most. We can actually put a name to our emotional burdens. We just can’t say I feel jealous, demeaned, intimidated, fearful or anxious when you are around. That perhaps is because we know it is all in our own minds and we own the problem.
Now the most important item we have forgotten in this mess is to count, recount and celebrate the tally marks of gratitude. We just don’t keep this kind of a sheet at all on anybody. It would embarrass us too much if we realized our partner or friend was kinder to us than we were to them. Have you ever noticed that as soon as a kindness is completed for us it retreats to the very back of our minds and digs deeply into our hearts leaving it hidden? If that same person wounded us we would remember that forever.
With all of the counseling available and books I am beginning to wonder if we just require a memory sheet of good so that on a bad day we can consult it and recall a special deed someone did for us. By checking our list every day, it would fill us up with good thoughts about the people we have a list for. There would be no room for doubt. Our jealousy, fear, insecurity and anxiety would dissipate upon viewing the positive thoughts and actions others showered on us. If we are feeling low and abandoned we might attempt a tally sheet on the person who is the focus of our frustration. It might surprise us into understanding just how wonderful the person we are doubting has really been in actuality. It will make it easier to bury the fault and it will make life happier for us and others.
“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.” Ralph Marston
“Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.” Alan Cohen
“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” Gilbert K. Chesterton
“If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the Creator, there is no poverty.” Rainer Maria Rilke
I’m just thankful for everything, all the blessings in my life, trying to stay that way. I think that’s the best way to start your day and finish your day. It keeps everything in perspective.” Tim Tebow