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Becky Henry is trained as a Certified, Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) and uses those skills to guide families to let go of fear and panic, learn self-care skills and become effective guides for their loved one in eating disorder recovery. In this week’s post, Becky discusses the healing benefits of gratitude.

Some of you know that I was in Hawaii in January 2018 when the State of Hawaii issued this warning to cell phones on all Hawaiian islands:

Different people react differently to threatening situations. I have, so far observed different approaches and all have various and numerous causes I’m sure. There must be a study somewhere on this…right Kitty Westin?

  1. Stand firmly in DENIAL and go on with our lives – if the threat remains just that.
  2. Walk around completely unaware.
  3. Sheer and total panic rendering the person incapacitated.
  4. Absolute Terror and action.
  5. Fatalistic approach…we are all going to die and it doesn’t matter what we do.

I have experienced most of the above at different times. This time it was #4! I was the most terrified I have ever been in my life. While others were standing at the oceanside blissfully unaware or fatalistically accepting…I don’t know which, I was preparing to die a long slow painful death and attempting to possibly save my own life.

After 3 bliss-filled weeks on the island of Kauai, I got up and watched one of the most beautiful sunrises I’d seen there. Then my husband left for his daily yoga class (during which he did not learn about the missile warning) and I settled in for a relaxing Saturday morning of looking for potential places to stay next year….haha…might just stay in Minnesota out of range of such attacks.

The warning arrived on my phone and after some frantic scurrying around and searching (along with thousands of others) “How to Survive a Ballistic Missile Attack” on the internet and found an article on Business Insider , I began preparing to try and survive inside while fallout rained down.

In addition to shutting windows, blinds and doors (yes it got very warm very quickly) and filling every container I could find with water, I called my mom in Minnesota to say, “Goodbye.”

During all of this my mind was going a million miles an hour; “Will I ever see any loved ones again? Will Jay stay put at the yoga studio? Will we die instantly or be sickened by fallout? Where are Jay’s passwords? How long with the food in the fridge be safe to eat? Will I run out of water? How will I tell my daughter what was happening? And a thousand scarier thoughts.

While talking to my mom; who was in reaction #1 above, I looked on Twitter and thankfully saw the Governor’s message that this was a mistake…never in those minutes did I envision this potential outcome! We were still going to be healthy, safe, able to eat safe food and drink clean water and breathe clean air!! And see our loved ones again!

Gratitude barely begins to describe how grateful I felt then and still do. It was a mind bender. About 30 minutes of sheer terror and sadness and suddenly back to normal. My good friend in Chicago helped me breathe over the phone until my husband returned. He was in a state of yoga bliss and didn’t even know what had happened…Guess that says a lot about the benefits of yoga, but that’s another article. Check out what Forbes has to say about scientific benefits of GRATITUDE!

After calming down I went to see the waves at the lighthouse with my friends who were also visiting the island from Minnesota. They had watched a football game while this was going on. Both had grown up with air-raid drills and weren’t phased at all. Blew me away, this wasn’t a drill, but they had learned to not trust these things. It was surreal to be outside breathing clean, safe air and watching the waves and whales after thinking my life as I knew it was over…talk about second chances!

The next day as I watched another gorgeous sunrise I was
filled with gratitude and joy! I had thought I may never see
another sunrise…that whole day I walked around in
amazement at all that I still had. Clean air, clean water to
drink, safe food to eat and a healthy body still. This was
amazing. Weeks later I am still incredibly grateful for all of these things.

One of the self-care tools I teach to parents of kids with eating disorders is to practice gratitude. Often parents will tell me there is nothing to be grateful for when they have a child at death’s door. Being grateful for clean air, clean water, enough food and good health are some of the things I’ve suggested that they feel gratitude about. It’s hard to grasp what a powerful antidote to suffering that gratitude can be.

It takes doing it regularly to get into the habit of practicing gratitude so that it can become a go-to tool to cope with all that eating disorders challenge a parent with on a daily basis. This is why we teach how to practice gratitude during the self-care training at the SHIFT HAPPENS Retreats. The next one is September 22-25 – in the Mid-Atlantic Region for all of the East Coast folks who’ve been after me to host a retreat out there, watch my website for updates.

I would love to hear what you are grateful for, how you practice gratitude and what it shifts for you. Please share your comments. Thanks!

Still not convinced that gratitude can reduce your distress while being the caregiver of someone with an eating disorder? Check out the “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude” published in Psychology Today in 2015.

 

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