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October 13, 2019

About the Thanksgiving and Gratitude industries.

And what really helps to flourish in life

Not everyone is able to be thankful.

Not everyone is able to be grateful.

That seems to upset those for whom thanks and gratitude are essential to their identity. And that is unhelpful. Because those unable are actually crippled. You are asking people to walk who can’t.

People who struggle in life, burdened by mental illness, often view happy this and thanks that as unattainable – galaxies far, far away.

They know only the end of fists, guns, rage, fury, wars and more. Their greatest capacity is an unholy trinity: fight, flight and / or numb.

They might mask these entrenched strategies with civil conversation, savvy intelligence and wane smiles, or even muster a charm offensive, offensive only to them.

These facades are simply to pass the gates of acceptance, gates fortified by those who eschew discomfort, disease.

Those at the gate may claim to be advocates of mental health, and may post “Let’s Listen!” during mental health week, but privately they stir, “just suck it up, mate.”

“You just forgot to be grateful!”

“You cannot see what is so plainly in front of you – abundance.”

Such judgements may be well intended, but they stab the afflicted who know what they’re saying, but unable to summit the realization. Guilt upon guilt. Shame upon shame. Lose lose.

That outreach is not for the conflicted, it is for the (reasonably) well. After all, it is very difficult to enter the darkened cave of one who knows no other space.

It is courageous to enter that unlit space, with despondent, disembodied voices growling, “I am not enough.”

 Or worse. Far worse.

Most (allegedly) healthy folks don’t want to be around unhealthy folks, because it may trigger something real but buried miles deep. The so called weak may reveal the emperor has no clothes.

Know this: a still relatively young aspect of science and psychiatry proves that early childhood trauma mucks you up for years to come.

COPD, heart disease, criminality, diabetes, abuse of all sorts, and more flourish in those who learned only survival strategies from those with little to no love.

This is proven by a pioneering study conducted Kaiser Permanente and the US Centre for Disease control (CDC).

Bottom line? You are terribly, adversely afflicted if raised by trauma. Unless and until some blazing light comes into your life to lift you into another possibility of self-awareness, you remain diseased.

Those of us who lived in war zones in the west or east know that there may be much to be grateful for.

But for many, we are still dodging bombs, raising arms to defend against the blows, or running from the shots fired above our heads, or numbing from the voices that scream only messages of utter worthlessness.

We are not ungrateful: just terrified and stuck and numb and unconscious.

Give thanks? Give gratitude?

Help us. Give us time.

But more importantly, what about you?

Learn empathy.

Learn compassion.

Learn you: learn what it means to be fully human.

Oh my!

Be that for your children.

Your spouse.

Your organization.

Your community.

Your country.

Your world.

But especially, for you. Oh, the freedom you’ll enjoy.

Because it’s guaranteed: you have some sort of unconscious blindspot.

Be the change you want to see.

Don’t preach it.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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