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Giving Thanks (When It’s Been a Crap Year)

shutterstock_123420286You might be wondering why I’m even suggesting the idea of gratitude when you’ve had a lousy time of it.

It’s because appreciation beats the alternative: spending your holidays in an extended wallow, reinforcing your helplessness over your life.

If you’re reading, you’re considering. So I hope you’ll read on. This post isn’t about finding a silver lining.  It’s about marshaling your strength so that 2015 treats you better.

First, think about why this year was so bad.  And I mean really ponder on it.  Your gut reaction might be that nothing went right, that it wasn’t your fault and therefore, there’s nothing you can do to control next year either.  Or your gut reaction might be that you did everything wrong, and therefore you also can’t bring any measure of control in the future.

These are knee-jerk, extreme world views that hold people back from fulfilling their true potential.  Both leave you feeling powerless and helpless.  They leave you feeling -less.

And what I want to focus on in this post is more.  Think about what happened this year that you want to have happen again.  What do you want more of?  What are some concrete steps you can take to bring that about?

Recognition and gratitude are good places to start.  The reason is that it’s easier to make changes in your life when you come from a positive place.  Negativity is draining, while gratitude gives you energy.  And what you need to have a better year is to approach it with some energy.

I’m not saying that what happened this year is your fault; I’m also not saying that it wasn’t.  What I am saying is that taking ownership–saying “It’s my fault”–can be empowering, if you make efforts not to repeat the same mistakes.  But if all you’re doing is berating yourself, then that’s going to suck the energy right out.

So start with one good thing that happened, with one positive relationship.  That’s something to build on in the future.

Then start with bad things that could have been prevented.  Maybe you need to clear out some of the old relationships to make space for ones that give energy rather than take it away.  (You’ll notice that theme running through this post.)

Give thanks that you’re still here, and as long as you’re here, there’s hope.

Family image available from Shutterstock.

Giving Thanks (When It’s Been a Crap Year)

Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda ( ). She is also a novelist ( Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."

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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2014). Giving Thanks (When It’s Been a Crap Year). Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Nov 2014
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