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A cure for loneliness? Gratitude!


Magdalena Galek - published on 11/02/16

I made a decision: “I will give up self-pitying and choose to be grateful.”

I used to indulge in self-pity and had an outstanding talent for seeing that everyone else was better off than I was. Gratitude was a real eye-opener. It opened my heart, too. I understood: it is not true that I am alone.

There is a time in human life when we have no one close to our heart. Some people experience it for a short period, temporarily, so to speak. However, I am one of those who are single permanently. My loneliness has been long-lasting.

Waiting for Mr. Right. Nervously catching the chance glances in the street in the hope of finding a sparkle of love. Biting lips during a friend’s wedding. Weeping in the pillow at night and repeating to myself: “Why am I alone?!”

Sound familiar?

Ever since I can remember, self-pity has been a recurring theme in my life. I used to indulge in self-pity and had an outstanding talent for seeing that everyone else was better off than I was. Actually, I found some satisfaction in this. Unfortunately, I did not realize that thinking this way is a serious problem.

Self-pitying became my habit.

My brain automatically looked for reasons to feel sorry for myself even in moments of pleasure. While eating chocolate I thought: “I am really fat”; when at a party I was imagining: “I look the worst of them all,” and when singing in a choir I said to myself: “God, I am singing out of tune.”

When years passed (and I was still single), the following toxic motto buzzed in my head: “I am going to be alone forever,” “I will never meet anyone”… I hit rock bottom and found myself in a hole which I had dug for myself over the years, day after day. I had no strength to do anything. I lost all hope in myself. Need I write that it did not feel nice? You know it did not.

Today there is no trace of that painful period of feeling low. I am happy, although I am still single. What has changed?

I made a decision: “I will give up self-pitying and choose to be grateful.”One evening I wrote in capital letters on a piece of paper: “THANKFULNESS” and listed the things which I am thankful for: “having a place to live, fresh air, the kindness of the people I have met during the day, the fact that I was able to pick raspberries in my garden”…

There were over 100 reasons! How is that possible? The author of Psalm 63 wrote that the soul may be dry and thirsty. My soul must have been totally exhausted if it needed so much gratitude.

If you feel exhausted, if you start thinking at the break of dawn that you will always be alone and that it is sad, painful and scary, please make a list of the things that you are thankful for. Right now. It is enough to collect 5 reasons: “I have something to wear, I can use the internet, my breakfast was delicious, it is summer, and I have one more day of life ahead of me.”

These are only examples, but it is worthwhile to write down your own reasons for being grateful. And then take a look at your feelings, the self-pitying or being thankful, and choose what is best for you.

I choose gratitude. Not forever. For one day. For today. For three years. Gratitude opened my eyes and heart. I came to my senses: it is not true that I am alone. I saw my family, my friends, acquaintances, neighbors, dwellers of the city in which I live whom I meet on the bus, in shops, and on cycling paths. I noticed that there were interesting people around me whom I had failed to see earlier.

Thanks to being grateful I am not afraid to be alone. Gratitude prevents me from feeling lonely. Gratitude cheers me up. I don’t cry in my pillow day after day and I am no longer miserable. I have abandoned the egocentric illusion of loneliness and have my feet on the ground.

The real world is full of wonderful people who want to meet me and you, perhaps for a longer time and perhaps just to hear about gratitude and to be able to reject self-pity and move out of a black hole.

The text published in the Polish edition of Aleteia. 

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