How Gratitude Can Help You Through Hard Times

Sometimes the greatest gifts seem to be hidden inside the most difficult things we experience in life.

Too often we feel gratitude is about being grateful for all the gifts in our life, the things that go well, the unexpected boons and sparks in a sometimes forest of darkness.

But, for me the power of gratitude was uncovered when I began to think about not simply accepting the good in my life, but being grateful for things that were challenging, and were in fact awful and downright difficult. I don’t mean being grateful in a kind of new-age positive glossing it up kind of way. I mean truly being with a difficult experience until the gift emerges.

A Bad Breakup

I was having a really difficult time with a relationship breakup where a lot of anger, blame and aggression was being directed my way. I had done the old "turn the other cheek" or let the storm of projections and character assassination roll over me.

And then one day something snapped and an enormous “NO” emerged from deep within my being. It was enough. And as this ‘NO’ erupted through my body, my hand reached up and slapped my ex partner’s face. Hard. Something broke between us, an energy cleared as it happened, even as inside I felt awful shame and my inner voice was telling me: “You’re a fraud,” “What about all your yogic teachings on ahimsa?” My critic was having a field day.

Finding Power Within

Yet, it also felt REALLY good.  I’m not proud of this moment and it’s part of my learning to set clearer boundaries and not allow others to bully me, but it felt clear, authentic and honest. And while I was a little shocked at myself, it led me on an inner journey where I began to really look at what was happening in this messy and nasty relationship breakup and on-going conflict.

And I began to look for, and see the gifts. I was being given an opportunity to discover my inner strength, my resilience, my patience, and ultimately, my power. This situation was teaching me how to stand up for myself, be strong, and completely unaffected by the whirlwind of other people’s emotions.

The Greatest Gifts

I feel tremendous gratitude to life, to the divine for this opportunity and I realize that I couldn’t really grow in my life and reach for my dreams, without this radical shakeup. Sometimes the greatest gifts seem to be hidden inside the most difficult things we experience in life.

Words by Azriel Re’Shel