If you're not thankful, you shouldn't feel guilty, too

COPING OTB

November 26, 1991|By Barbara Turk, M.S.

This is not your year for thanksgiving. Maybe the economy has you in a scary bind, or there's trouble in your family. Whatever has you down, you feel like pitching the turkey and forgetting the whole thing. And, to make you feel more dismal, they tell you to count your blessings, it could be worse.

Maybe they're right, it could be worse. But telling yourself to count your blessings when you feel far from blessed, sets you up for feeling guilty, and then angry at yourself for being so self-concerned. So what should you do, feel sorry for yourself? Wouldn't that make it worse?

Sure, if that's all you do. Try this instead:

* First, allow a little time to feel sorry for yourself. After all, life is hard for you right now. Wouldn't you feel compassion for someone else in the same position? And, while accepting your negative feelings,

* Resist the temptation to build catastrophes in your head. Concentrate instead on attending to the realities of the moment. Chances are putting one foot in front of the other each day will get you through the storm.

* Recognize that while times are difficult now, they have been better in the past, and they will be better again in the future. And that is something to be thankful for.

Barbara Turk is a psychotherapist in private practice.

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