In Gratitude: August Catch Up

A YEAR LONG CHALLENGE: I originally asked seven people who struggle with a common mental health issue such as depression or anxiety, or a sense of ‘lack’ to be in gratitude for the year ahead. Each of them represented a day of the week and began to post me a photo of something they are grateful for this day for a whole year. We started last month. Since my first request for volunteers three more people joined up and we doubled up on Fridays, Saturdays and more recently Sundays. Read original blog

We catch up with our ten volunteers three months into a year long photo challenge of capturing a photo of something they are grateful for each week. This month some of our group members ask each other questions about the challenge and we catch up with what they have to say…

Q: In a nutshell do you have a plan in place for your spare time or not? by Friday’s Yang Photographer
  • Monday: No plans for my weekend as it is spent seeing my children and its up to them what we do! Usually involves pizza and a film!
  • Saturday (South) This is such a good question and has made me realise that I pretty much ALWAYS have a plan in place of exactly what I’m going to do, where I’m going to be and how long it is going to take. I think I would actually like to start “winging it” more and letting life decide for me, relying on my higher power.
  • Tuesday I have no plan in place for my spare time. Having a hobby is something I am now challenging myself with. I am now thinking of buying a little van, and using it to drive around and visit places. Maybe have a little tent attached to the side. But am worried this will be a waste of money and a massive fail.
  • Friday Yang Hmm, tough question!! Personally I like to know what’s going on, have a plan in place. I hate waiting to see what happens, waiting for people to make a decision etc. However when I’m away on holiday I just ‘wing it’ and see what occurs. It’s always difficult when abroad to follow a plan and fit things in, there’s just never enough time!
  • Friday Yin try not to plan, unless it is for essentials such as shopping. I refer to see where my mood takes me
  • Saturday North if short amount of spare time I have a vague plan, which usually gets rammed with other people’s plans/suggestions to be honest. If there is a holiday time I will make plans.
  • Thursday no plans, unless the family are demanding my time.
  • Sunday Southern usually, yes. If I am just taking a few days off, I might have no plans
  • Wednesday I try to have a plan for my spare time even if it’s a scheduled check in with myself. I can’t relax at home properly due to a difficult neighbour so I take myself off to spend time by myself with just myself. I really need this time to reflect and I use nature to do this.
  • Sunday Northern Always a plan, however it is usually set in custard and not concrete. We can’t even plan to have dinner at the same time every night and as for house maintenance at the weekend, no problem, I pray for distractions and will take any that are going. We choose to go caravanning for our holidays, because we can be more flexible. I think that as an entire family, we definitely “wing it”. But we do sort of get there in the end though. This also explains why my own “In Gratitude” email is usually sent at about 11:00 pm on Sunday.
Q: Is it ok to be grateful you are not in someone else’s shoes? by Friday’s Yin Photographer :
  • Monday: Good question- after consideration I think it is ok to be grateful that you are not in someone else’s shoes as long as you are mindful of their situation and not passing judgement on their situation. It is human nature to reflect and even compare your own life when you are faced with other situations that are different to your own.
  • Saturday (South) It’s definitely ok to be grateful you are in your OWN shoes and to appreciate what you have got. Help others as much as you can, keep your boundaries clear and appreciate your own stuff.
  • Tuesday yes with a caveat to help other people as much as you can. I think this is a meaning of life, help yourself first and this enables you to help others.
  • Friday Yang I’d say yes, sometimes to be grateful you have to realise how lucky you are to have what you have.
  • Friday Yin yes
  • Saturday North yes, I think it is. Reason being that we have all chosen our own paths and will have our own challenges and I am sure other people look at you and think ‘glad Im not you’ when you get through them. Challenges are hard to go through, but when you look back and reflect you often find the positives.
  • Thursday yes, my shoes are comfortable and sometimes uncomfortable. Like all of us we are have a certain amount of pain and hardship.
  • Sunday Southern yes I definitely think it is OK to be grateful for your situation, regardless of what the situation is. If you are fortunate, and not as bad off as someone else, then you are not in their shoes, but shouldn’t you still be grateful that you are fortunate? Yes, I think that is a responsibility that comes with BEING more fortunate
  • Wednesday I don’t know if it’s really ok to be grateful that I’m not in someone else’s shoes because it’s concentrating on something negative for someone else and not a direct positive for you.
  • Sunday Northern I think that it is human nature to think like that. It’s no different to wishing you were in the lottery winners shoes. I try to remember that it’s how you walk the journey and how you deal with your experiences on the way. I say this because I have worn the shoes that nobody wants to be in, I have been through some “serious shit” that could have broken me and my family. I suppose I am still a bit damaged form my experience, but I am certainly a lot more humble, understanding and altruistic and believe that I am a better person of because of my experiences, no matter how bad they were at the time. I hope that I haven’t been too selfish in my answer.
Q: Did this challenge help you to live in the moment and appreciate the little things more? by Saturday’s Southern Photographer
  • Monday Yes, I am trying to live more in the moment, but sometimes that is hard as the day to day get in the way, and planning for my move.
  • Saturday (South) Yes because it forced me to! I knew I had to find something once a week to be grateful for… it opened my eyes and helped me see the wonders around me.
  • Tuesday it contributes to the other work I am doing. It is certainly nice to know there are others out there like me, doing this challenge.
  • Friday Yang I’d love to be able to live in the moment more and appreciate the little things in life, but my job always involves forward planning and this then effects all other aspects of my every day life.
  • Friday Yin yes
  • Saturday North its helped me keep on top of living in the now, as I was already practising this. So its a helpful tool.
  • Thursday yeah definitely. Its made me take time out to appreciate things and keeps me in the here and now…and also along with the seasons.
  • Sunday Southern yes. living in the moment is something I am wanting to do more, so taking the time to appreciate the photo taken helps this.
  • Wednesday I have always tried to appreciate the little things as collectively they hold more impact to my life. Living in the moment is a constant commitment which I have been trying to practice for months now. Re-reading The Power of Now has helped enormously and I would recommend this book to all of you.
  • Sunday Northern Yes it did. I have started to slow down a bit and take more time to see what is going on around me, my wife and daughter still refer to me as “Captain Chaos”. In particular, my role in the garden for the last 39 years has been one of excavator and weed remover (and sometimes – not weeds apparently).  Anyway I have recently discovered that together we’ve actually created quite a pretty and colourful little garden.
Q: Has this process developed more self awareness in yourself and recognition of the positive and negative predispositions in others around you? by Saturday’s Northern Photographer.
  • Monday This process has definitely increased my self awareness and made me appreciate what’s around me more. I think that I was already aware of the predispositions of those around me as I am much more aware of this now after my training. 
  • Saturday (South) It has definitely helped me become more aware of the small and mundane blessings I am surrounded by everyday. It really could be worse.
  • Tuesday Its nice to know other people are doing this challenge in the week. Their comments and their photos and in their catch ups. Its actually been nice to ponder what to take a photo of.
  • Friday Yang For me it’s too early to say.
  • Friday Yin not really re self awareness, re others being positive/negative, I think I am already aware of others frames of minds.
  • Saturday North that’s my question innit. Hmmm. Yeah its helped me, its reminded me its important to keep practising self awareness and in doing so you can kinda use the point you’re at as a measuring stick when you meet others as to how positive or negative they are in comparison to you. If that makes sense?
  • Thursday I think for self awareness its made me look at things and what I appreciate, my dad, my husband, chilling out, my home and being grateful. But I think I have always recognise people’s predisposition as positive or negative.
  • Sunday Southern I am not sure about this one – I already consider myself a fairly self-aware person – in fact I am on a personal journey of self-awareness at the moment, so this challenge compliments that.
  • Wednesday I have made excuses in the past not to look after myself by putting everybody before me. I have to make a conscious effort to do this. I have noticed how aware I have become of my own negative thinking and how my families negative thinking effects me. I have tried to limit my exposure to this to help me as I can’t change them.
  • Sunday Northern I am definitely more self-aware; there are actually a massive amount of reasons for me to be grateful in my everyday life. I particularly notice negative attitudes in others close to me and with work colleagues. I focus more on positives in myself and others rather than highlighting the negatives.
Q: Do you see a reoccurring theme in your photos? by Tuesday’s Photographer
  • Monday No reoccurring theme but nature and family seem to be key to me.
  • Saturday (South) Yes! Most of my photos are to do with people or animals that are really close to me and make me feel safe and loved. I’ve only had a couple that are of nature or inanimate objects.
  • Tuesday yeah. Beautiful nature and love.
  • Friday Yang Nature……… I live in a very beautiful area which is always taken for granted, every now and then you just need to stop and take it all in!
  • Friday Yin generally nature and solitude
  • Saturday North Yeah it all seems to be home for the most part.
  • Thursday yes…people. Friends and family.
  • Sunday Southern Yes, absolutely. I think everyone can see I have a very strong animal/nature recurring theme
  • Wednesday I knew I would have a reoccurring theme as I know nature is what enables me to feel connected to wider things outside my mind. Having a mental illness only isolated me and leaves me feeling alone and lonely. Connecting means I am not alone.
  • Sunday Northern Here I go again! Being as organised as I am, recurring anything just doesn’t fit in my life, but having said that, maybe this challenge will change that. I did want to concentrate on a particular subject, so let’s see what develops.
Q: Why did you want to take part in the challenge? by Monday’s Photographer
  • Monday I wanted to take part in the challenge to focus my mind.  I am more mindful that I need to focus on what is going on in my life day to day and not constantly think about the future and I had never done anything like this before. I also feel that it will be a wonderful thing to look back on in a years time! 
  • Saturday (South) a daily list of things I am grateful for is an essential part of my recovery programme, so taking pictures really helped me with this.
  • Tuesday it all looked like healthy inner work stuff.
  • Friday Yang I thought it would be interesting and i’m looking forward to seeing all 52 of my pictures at the end of the year.
  • Friday Yin it wasn’t that I wanted to take part, I was asked and accepted
  • Saturday North every little helps when you are on a path to a better place. And this is one of those helping things.
  • Thursday because I think we take things for granted. And because of my anxiety I have I don’t naturally stay in the moment my mind gallops off to negativity and this challenge makes me stay in here and now in a positive way.
  • Sunday Southern because I have done a similar gratitude challenge with George in the past. At a time that was extremely tough for me – and for George. I found the exercise of messaging George three things I was grateful for everyday for a month was an excellent way to get through the funk
  • Wednesday I wanted to take part in this challenge because I wanted to support this counsellor and thought it would be a lovely opportunity to explore myself more.
  • Sunday Northern I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to, as I have said in one of my other answers, sticking to plans doesn’t come easy to me. I don’t think that I have ever turned down a challenge and this is quite unique, so I though why not, maybe I’ll learn something about myself. It took me a few weeks to finally agree to it but I am so glad that I did and I am looking forward to the rest of the weeks ahead.
Q: Are any of you scared of “getting better” and by that I mean, do you fear changing lifetime behaviours because you worry about how others might perceive the new you? by Sunday’s northern hemisphere Photographer
  • Monday I think that ‘I am better’ having beaten the psychosis and PTSD that I suffered, but this resulted in an underlying anxiety that I will always have- it doesn’t scare me and I don’t see myself actually getting ‘better’ but learning to embrace this as part of me and with this self acceptance will come the confidence not to worry about how others perceive me.
  • Saturday (South) I fear changing and “getting better” because I know what I may have to sacrifice in order to get there. I have already had to make some very difficult sacrifices in order to progress in my recovery. I think you have to let go of that fear and put yourself first in order to truly be happy.
  • Tuesday No because I have been desperate to change, and as the changes occur I am starting to experience feelings and relationships I never thought possible. I’ve a way to go yet but there are chinks in my armour of darkness and my life seems to be getting better.
  • Friday Yang Nope, not at all, i’m looking forward to either getting back to how I was, happy in life. Or simply bettering myself.
  • Friday Yin No I am not scared of getting ‘better’ not that I see myself as needing to get better. More adjust my thinking and change the way I see things.
  • Saturday North Having been on a journey of getting better for the last 3 years through professional therapy and personal persuits of gaining knowledge in self development, I began it all very frightened of the challenges and changes that lay ahead for me. God knows a fought against the changes but my therapist helped me accept what must happen. The broken and rusty armour I had fought all my life to maintain slowly dropped away and instead of the protection being around the outside of me, which also stopped anything good coming in, the protection came from within. The new me has taken at least a year and a half to get used to but it’s much easier now and I feel like I’ve escaped a war.
  • Thursday no, I’m too old for that shit.
  • Sunday Southern No I do not….I relish in the improvement of any of my personal behaviours. If you are into humanistic psychology, this is our goal in life: to attain self improvement/self awareness/self actualisation. If anyone in your personal circle perceives the new you in a negative light, then I suggest that says more about them that it does about you….and that person should remain on the periphery of your circle. People don’t like to see you improve if they always felt you were ‘below’ them in some way. So no, do not be scared, relish in the changes and the journey to the new you.
  • Wednesday no I’m not scared of getting better. Sometimes old dysfunctional pattern are hard to break though. i have already experienced the backlash from my family when trying to set boundaries and face them with a different me. The sad things is that every morning I go back to my default setting and have to work on it every day. It will be a lifetime of work.
  • Sunday Northern After many years of therapy in different forms for my depression, being introduced to Transactional Analysis (TA) has probably had the biggest and most positive impact on me, and for me (thanks Georgie). I do worry about the feelings of others close to me as my behaviour changes. Becoming the Adult is quite challenging and sometimes takes considerable effort. The family have noticed a change and I’m not sure what they think about it. I particularly notice it when I do revert back to Child or not so commonly, Parent behaviours. I will not be giving up though, I quite like the changes and I quite enjoy living in the now. I just wish that I knew about TA earlier.

If you wish to know more about Transactional Analysis – check out our blogs under ‘Counselling’ and then ‘Transactional Analysis’.

Sunday’s Southern Hemisphere Collection from July
Thursday’s collection from July
Wednesday’s collection from July

The August challenge…

“As we move forward into August, I am now going to challenge all the group to set their own reminders for their photos, including our monthly catch up blog (next one for beginning of September). So if your day should pass without submission, no issues, no judgements, it is what it is. This is to give you all ownership of your ‘grateful for’ or ‘in-gratitude’ journey, so there will be more of an implicit change – a change from within. Rather than having a reminder from me that perhaps gives a message of being ‘forced’ or ‘parented’ to doing a ‘chore’ for my blog (something for me), a photo of something you are grateful for each week becomes a tool to use for your own positive mental and emotional well-being (something for you). It has been interesting for me to observe the biggest positive changes so far are with those who have embraced this challenge as their own. So the August challenge has organically grown from this observation.” – Georgie

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