The Tools of Change were given to me at a time of emotional turmoil due to changes occurring in my own life and in the lives of people I knew. I will never forget the day I received the gift of this second Tool of Change. It was a year before my Dad passed. He had become seriously ill a couple of months prior and I knew that we could lose him at anytime. It really hit me one day, sitting at my desk at home. Cherished memories from childhood came flooding in – things we had done together that meant so much to me. I must have sat there for a couple of hours sobbing over the loss that I knew was coming. I finally told myself that he hadn’t been able to do those things for years (foolishly hoping that I could talk myself out of it!). But logic did nothing to sooth my broken heart. The floodgates were open.
I finally did what people tend to do when they feel utterly helpless. I audibly cried out to God for help, asking for SOMETHING that would ease my pain. The answer came with no delay. “Put your memories into Gratitude.” Hmmmm…..OK. I had helped many clients put their painful, hurtful memories into gratitude, assuring them that it would help them to truly forgive and reap the wisdom from those experiences. But it hadn’t occurred to me to do this for the gnawing ache of grief inside.
A memory surfaced of fishing with Dad. The spigot of tears reopened. I placed this memory into gratitude, and asked gratitude to envelope me. The surge of joy that filled my body was a complete surprise. My tears stopped and I could breathe again. Another memory surfaced, of racing to the house with him from the detached garage when he came home from work, wondering if I would ever be as fast as my Dad. More tears. I put that one into gratitude, and joy returned. Again and again that day, one after another, memories came to mind to be placed into gratitude. I wondered if it would ever end. Yet as the morning became afternoon, the minutes between them turned into hours. I knew it was working. By the end of the day and into the next I was emotionally and mentally lifted, sitting in joy and gratitude for all those wonderful times with my Dad.
Gratitude is the love essence of the Second Tool of Big-Hearted Change. It brings us out of the past and back into the present moment. This is true whether the past was glorious or gloomy. Memories and experiences can be painful. People have asked me, “How can I be grateful for something that brought me so much pain?” This is an excellent question. The answer lies in the heart, not the mind. We don’t have to “try” to be grateful, or convince ourselves of the value of anything. Gratitude is like Grace. It is an aspect of Divine Love that can be called upon to assist and fill us. It is a healing balm for regret, guilt, grief, anger, resentment, and nostalgia.
Gratitude is like forgiveness, in that it serves to release our emotional attachment to what has been. Yet it does even more than that. Gratitude also integrates the past into the whole of our life’s journey. My experience has been that, when I am willing to trust in Love, and ask for its help, not only does healing and movement occur, but I am also given understanding and a higher perspective that brings my mind along for the ride. That’s how these Tools of Big-Hearted Change work. They originate in the heart, and then understanding and solutions present themselves.
While the first Tool of Change – Grace – brings us back to the present from our fearful projections of the future, this second Tool of Change brings us back from the past. We have emotional attachments to so many things – people, places, things, memories, ideas, and ways of doing things. I want to emphasize the importance of feeling the whole range of our emotions. They are road signs. When they have done their job, gratitude helps us to release them. Letting go of the past is an important aspect of moving forward. True change can’t happen without it. We live and release. Live and release. This is living in the joy of the present moment. A hot air balloon must release its tethers before it can fly. Gratitude helps us to do the same.
*More about how to use Gratitude and the other six Tools of Big-Hearted Change may be found in the FREE Tools of Change pdf at bridgesofunity.com and in the book and ebook, “4 Essential Steps of Big-Hearted Change for Our New World Rising” by Marcia West.Share