Gratitude Gallery

Clients often move quite quickly from the desire to understand what is happening for them emotionally –  to what to do about what is happening emotionally. Clients say, “I feel depressed or anxious or paranoid or traumatized, yes, but how do I change that?” There is not an answer that works for everyone all of the time. There are strategies and tools that we have to apply in different situations in response to variable stressors. This is not easy or simple work. I try to warn my clients, families, and organizations that recovery takes a substantial amount of effort.

One of the tools that I recommend to clients for recovery is a planful and repetitive gratitude practice –  This can look different for everyone. Practicing gratitude can assist in silencing negative thinking, can soothe a troubled or tense limbic system, and potentially reframe our perspective.

Three Ways To Practice Gratitude:

  1. With others by sharing elements of our life that we are grateful for. 
  2. Outwardly express gratitude through art, music, or being in a grateful community with others. 
  3. Practice gratitude privately. 

The third option is most approachable for my clients that are private, introverted, or otherwise not ready to be vulnerable with others.

Specifically, I recommend a gratitude “gallery”. A practice  in saving images/snapshots in our mind of moments that are meaningful and that we are grateful for. These images can be moments that you observe in nature, loved ones, pets, or professional experiences that we notice, witness, and freeze forever in our minds so that we can conjure them up when we need to feel gratitude. The gratitude gallery becomes a place we can take ourselves when we need to shift our perspective, quiet the negative thinking, and soothe our stress response. 

When choosing the images, I want you to take in all the details of each image. Our brains (regardless of how stressed we are) can be aware of the most detailed sensory information. We can use this superpower for our own benefit when creating our gratitude gallery.

Notice the colors, textures, patterns, and pictures unfolding around you so that when you need the images, they will pop up in your mind as deeply embedded and profoundly detailed. The more details, the better, as our brain will believe we are in that place again and we will be able to re-create and land back in those moments.

A gratitude practice can help us as a tool or strategy for changing our experience. More specifically a gratitude gallery can send us there more quickly.

  1. Know you are in charge of how bountiful and plentiful your gallery is and that your work will pay off.
  2. Understand that you get to decide your gallery and you can create whatever you most need, that need will be different for each of us.
  3. Search for the images that speak to you and give you meaning or move you.
  4. When you find a moment like that, pause, become still so that you can absorb all of the details.  Store and remember as many sensory elements of the image so you can conjure up those images when you need to practice gratitude.

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