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Acknowledgment and Gratitude are Key in Recovery

On Memorial Day, the whole society of the United States, they pause, they completely stop. I mean it’s a federal holiday so everything just stops. What’s the main purpose? Remembrance. Acknowledgement and gratitude. We all know that that’s the theme of it so we know that for those individuals who go fight those fights, they deserve at least that one day for that. I’m telling you as human beings, even if you’ve never been in a war, that type of war, we all deserve the same acknowledgement. Being acknowledged for who you are and the things you do in life is a human need. It is something that when experienced, when we allow ourselves to experience it, it is something that feels good. It has healing potential.

Why People Can’t Accept Acknowledgment

However, since I’ve been working in the mental health space for 12, 13, 14 years now, I’ve noticed something. There are a lot of people that have a problem with being acknowledged. There’s a lot of people that have a problem with receiving compliments, receiving positive words towards them, and if you think about it, it kind of sounds bizarre. Because it’s why would a human being have a hard time experiencing someone saying, “Hey I’m proud of you. I see how well you’re doing. I see how hard you’re trying.” You’ve made so many changes in these areas of your life why would someone have a hard time receiving that? Two reasons. Number one, they never received it in life. Nobody ever told them “I see you, I’m proud of you.” Nobody ever told them “you’re doing a good job.” What they probably heard is, “You’re not good enough. It’s not good enough.” Or they didn’t hear anything at all. Their actions were unnoticed by those around them. So then they get into therapeutic circles. Their peers or counselors say, “Hey man, I see you man, you’re grinding, you’re working so hard. I’m so proud of you,” and they get uncomfortable. They can’t accept it. 

The second reason is because when you don’t receive all of those things in life growing up, in active developmental years, the impact that it has on your self-worth and self-esteem is profound. If you never got compliments your self-esteem stays low. If you never got told that you’re doing well and you’re worthy of love your self-worth is low. A person that has minimal to no self-respect and selfworth, first of all does things to their mind, their body, their spirit, their soul that matches that kind of relationship with that, but also has a hard time receiving acknowledgements and love back. 

An Acknowledgment Exercise

In 2011 my brother and myself, my brother rest in peace, we did this workshop together and it was one of those intensive workshops. It was multiple days – each day was over 12 hours long. 12 hours in the same room. You didn’t leave. And let’s just say there’s 60 people in that group. It was an advanced forum and one of the things that people had to do was, one at a time you had to go on the stage, with all 60 people and the group presenters and the people that were helping there, they were all watching you on stage. First of all, that’s just a terrifying experience for a lot of people, believe it or not. As much as I love talking and I’m all into this back then, it was scary, man! If you’ve never done it before it’s not an easy thing to do. But you would go there and you have to say “Who I am is the possibility of…”, and you would say three different things. So for example, health, love, generosity. Whatever you wanted to to create and bring about this world you would acknowledge that you’re the possibility of that. And if you said it kind of under the breath, if you said it low with no energy, they’d be like, “Nope, say it again!” And you say, “Who I am is the possibility of health.” And “nope, say it again, get to the point.” You would have to stand there and say, “Who I am is the possibility of…” and you would say it as loud as you could and if it passed the test of the facilitators, the entire 60 people in that room would stand up and start giving you a standing ovation. They would whistle, they would holler, they would scream, they would yell, and they would just clap for you. And you’re standing on the stage vulnerable and there’s people clapping for you, and just screaming and yelling your name, and just really energetically giving you love.

The Lesson I Learned

I learned something back then. I wasn’t even a therapist yet. I was just a counselor. I barely got through graduate school. I learned something there. Oh my God, we are all uncomfortable with being acknowledged. We are all uncomfortable with having that energy coming towards us. And some people would just start crying on the stage. I’m not kidding – they would just start be falling on the stage when people are acknowledging them because they felt they didn’t deserve it. Some people would just get so uncomfortable they get off the stage and walk away and they’d have to bring them back on. By the way, no one could leave that night until everyone was done with all these experiments. So it was powerful. So if you had to be there for 20 hours you would stay until everything finished. But what happened was after the first 30 seconds of discomfort, 30 seconds of just feeling so uncomfortable in your own skin, because you’re getting a standing ovation for the first time in your life, then they started to just smile and laugh and just look around the room and make eye contact. They were soaking it in. And then something even more profound than that happened when they went off the stage and the next person went on and they did the same exercise. “Who I am is the possibility of…” and once they passed people start clapping. Once they did that guess what happened? Those that got off the stage, they were the loudest, they had the most energy. I mean all 60 people, for a minute, every single time with a timer, you had to go as hard as you could. So for 60 minutes straight everyone just gave everything they had to those on stage, to acknowledge them, to make sure they were seen. Everyone lost their voice and I’ll tell you this. The ones that would go off the stage were the loudest because they received the need that they never had in a long time. It’s kind of like walking through the Sahara desert just dehydrated, dying of dehydration, and that one minute was the water you needed for life. That’s the power of acknowledgement and the power of gratitude.

Gratitude's an Attitude

I believe that. And “Grateful people are happy people and those who aren’t, aren’t.” I also say, “Gratitude that’s not expressed doesn’t exist.” So the reason why we’re grateful for what those people did when they go overseas and fight the wars, those men and women in armed forces, were grateful for, it is because it allows us to have a specific thing in our life and that is the ability to live the way we all live, the freedoms we experience. And unfortunately when it comes to the world of mental illness and substance abuse, not only do we take that freedom for granted, we also double down on it and imprison ourselves in the prison of the mind and the body and the spirit and the soul through those substances and those lifestyles. So please make sure that you acknowledge yourself. Be grateful for your progress, acknowledge those around you, and be grateful for who they are and how they show up in your life.

Call Buckeye Recovery Today!

Are you in recovery but not making progress? Recovery is not only possible but attainable, and it all begins with reaching out for assistance. By addressing both addiction and mental health issues, individuals can break free from the cycle of despair and embark on a path to a healthier, more fulfilling life. Contact Buckeye Recovery Network today and initiate your journey to recovery and improved mental health. Our dedicated team of professionals is here to guide and support you every step of the way.

Today is going to be the best day of your life.

Kelsey Gearhart

Director of Business Development

Kelsey carries multiple years of experience working in the substance abuse and mental health treatment field. Her passion for this field comes from her personally knowing recovery from addiction.

Prior to Buckeye she held titles of Recovery Coach, Operations Director, and Admissions Director. Kelsey was brought on at Buckeye Recovery as the Director of Business Development. She has a passion for ensuring every individual gets the help that they need, and does so by developing relationships with other providers.

Kelsey also oversees our women’s sober living environments – The Chadwick House for Women. She is committed to creating a safe, nurturing, and conducive environment for all women that walk through the doors of Chadwick.