Gratitude: The Antidote to Fear

It’s been a weird week. In one 7-day period, I’ve heard more bad news than I care to know and have watched as aspects of my life, once established, begin the process of change. I’m definitely feeling the fear and frustration that all this uncertainty generates. Without a clear understanding of what to do, unsure if there is anything I can do, I’m doing the one thing most available to me to soothe myself: Offering gratitude for all that is my life… even the stuff that feels terrible right now.

Getting scared and anxious is natural when things go awry or you’ve heard information that challenges your sense of stability. We all want good news, joyful days and exhilarating experiences. Sadly, daily euphoria is not realistic and even the happiest and most successful people have rough patches. Going through hard times is part of life. These moments can either sideline you or help you grow. Your reaction predicts what will follow. It can also influence how long the discomfort will last.

I once had a client that wanted to heal her body from a host of inflammatory problems and lose weight. After discussing her diet and medical history, it became clear that she had a wheat intolerance, experiencing painful joint inflammation, indigestion and bloating after eating it. When I suggested she eliminate wheat as a starting point, she broke down in angry tears and accused me of wanting to ruin her social life and sense of fun through food. She loved to eat and her primary way of socializing was by dining out with friends. If she couldn’t eat wheat, how could she possibly participate?

I had compassion for her feelings, but her reaction surprised me. She was looking for advice on how to feel better, and I was offering it. Rather than feeling happy that there was a solution to her suffering, she reacted in anger, upset by a change she felt was monumental enough to destroy her social life.

It’s not my tendency though, to insist that my clients do what I suggest. Instead, I educate and explain so that they may better understand the science behind the recommendation. I also offer alternatives so that socializing and dining out are as wonderful as before. Ultimately though, I’m not in control of their health, they are. So when my client reacted so strongly, I gently told her that she didn’t have to do what I suggested. She could continue to eat wheat as long as she understood that in doing so her health concerns would continue. If she was okay with that, then I was too.

This made her cry more because she knew I was right. She had intuitively understood that wheat was a problem but couldn’t wrap her brain around the idea of living without it. She was blinded by her attachment. Realizing this, I asked her if she could perhaps feel grateful for the fact that we had found a starting point to her journey of wellness. Rather than fixate on wheat elimination, I asked her to focus instead on feeling good every day, not having uncomfortable and embarrassing gas after every meal, feeling more fluid and alive in her body. If she could harness the excitement that gratitude for a healthy future could provide, she might feel less anxious about the change.

It worked, as gratitude always does. By changing her focus from what she didn’t want, to feeling happy about the promise of what she did want and having a plan to get there, she changed her energy from anger to hope, frustration to excitement. Within a couple of weeks, her digestion was nearly 100% better, her joint pain was substantially diminished and she had lost a couple of pounds.

It can be challenging to sit in gratitude when you hear bad news or when things fall apart. Change is terrifying and gratitude can feel like a counter-intuitive response. But if you can practice gratitude for what you had, what you will learn, and the potential of what is to come, you win. And you feel better faster. The initial experience itself can feel awful, but something will come of it. What that will be, you do not know but staying in a space of appreciation will shape the way you respond and in turn, what will emerge from the ashes of what once was.

If you’re going through a difficult time and find it hard to cultivate gratitude, start small by writing down the 3 best things that happen to you every day. This practice gets you in touch with what is working in your life, and helps you see that even in darkness there is a little bit of light. This is a great tool to use every day, even when things are going well. But it’s particularly useful when things are in flux.

What do you think? Have you ever used gratitude as a way to help you out of a challenging situation or when managing your mood? What happened? In what way did gratitude help you? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

I hope you have a wonderful week and that the sun shines on you! 🙂  And know I am grateful for every single one of you!

xo
B

Olive and Herb Scones!

Here’s a little treat for all of you out there working on eliminating wheat from your diet. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 cup pitted and chopped kalamata olives
  • 3 tbsp mixed herbs, minced (I used fresh parsley and basil)
  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • ¼ cup plain unsweetened almond milk

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375’F
  • Combine first four (dry) ingredients together and mix well, making sure to get rid of any clumps.
  • Mix the next 5 (wet) ingredients together. Until well blended.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and blend to make a batter.
  • Using ¼ cup measuring cup, scoop out batter and place on greased baking sheet or in muffin cup and press slightly to make it into a scone shape. Repeat until you have 6 scones.
  • Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes. Mine took 22 minutes and then I shut off the heat and let them sit in the oven an extra few minutes.
  • Remove from oven and place on wire baking tray to cool.
  • Serve warm with a drizzle of olive oil or with olive tapenade. You can also have them as a breakfast scone with scrambled eggs or sliced avocado. They are also delicious on their own! Enjoy!

Share Your Thoughts...

29 comments on “Gratitude: The Antidote to Fear

  1. Deborah

    Hi Barbara,
    Reading your blog post while sipping on your delicious Thai Spiced Broccoli & Coconut Milk Soup. I was grateful to read your post, see the recipe and can swear to the effectiveness of daily 3 bests and 3 intentions. I am grateful to you in helping me to change my habits for the better and keeping my attitude up and positive.
    Good luck with your struggles!
    (I think it’s going around, have had a few awful ones this week myself)

    Be well and thanks for helping me to be well too.
    mwah!
    Deborah

    Reply
  2. Lori Russell

    Yes. Going through hard times is really challenging. I am unfortunately going through one of the hardest times in my life right now. My husband, Bill, of 30 years died suddenly on March 28. Four months ago. I have said what you suggest. We need to stay on the positive side. Practicing what I preach can be very hard sometimes. But it does work! I can either lay down and cry all day long or I can get going and try to make each day count. Bill was only 56 and we were only beginning to have a life together as our children were having their own apart from us. Now I am alone and trying to figure out my future. Life can be very cruel sometimes. I will try the writing down of 3 positive things in my life. I bet I can find a whole lot more. Lori P.S. I am the one that sent you the homemade products.

    Reply
    1. Barbara Mendez RPh MS Post author

      Oh, Lori, I am so sorry to hear this sad news!! I was actually just thinking of you yesterday as I used the moisturizer you sent me and wondered how you were… this is very sad indeed.Life can often be cruel and when something this big happens it is hard to see the light. What I know (or at least I feel) is that when you look back on your life one day, this will fit in the picture in a way you may not be able to see right now. Something comes from everything, even the bad stuff, and it all leads to somewhere else. And obviously, where that will be it is impossible to know. In your sadness see if you can embrace a sense of wonder for what is your future. If you can watch it unfold with the spirit of adventure of what’s to come, you may find that really amazing things come your way,. You will never not love or miss your husband, and it may very well be way too soon to feel anything but grief, but when you are ready, see if you can embrace the beauty in all that is not known and marvel at what comes next… be light in your grief and try not to let it suffocate you…. but it does sound like you are doing this already~ Sending you tons of love and peace!
      xo

      Reply
      1. Lori Russell

        Thank you so much for those kind words. I will reread them over and over. I am hoping that one day I will be able to be happy and light again. But in this sadness, I cannot seem to happy. I am positive that one day I will be ok. I have two boys (23 and 29) that depend on me and I am not going to let them down. Bill had a wonderful life with us and one day I am hoping that the boys and I can celebrate that. Thank you again for your caring thoughts. I can see Bill and I going to the post office in Florida to mail that package to you. Go figure! Take care and I will keep reading your Monday posts. Lori

        Reply
  3. Laura Bode

    Thank you Barbara

    This is helpful to me in my challenging job search. This has reminded me to be grateful that I have many years of valuable work experience and to stay in that positive state of mind despite feeling fearful of finding a job. The message of having Gratitude comes to me in various ways from various sources and is incredibly helpful when fear starts to creep in. Thank you for being another source to remind me!

    Laura

    Reply
    1. Barbara Mendez RPh MS Post author

      I’m so glad this was helpful Laura! Stay positive and focus on the good things…. do what you can with an enthusiastic mindset and if you stay with it, the rest will follow~
      Best of luck to you on your search! I hope you are enjoying your summer!
      xo

      Reply
  4. Tom

    From Got Questions:
    And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:7
    Question: “What is the peace that passes all understanding?”

    Answer: In Philippians 4:7 we have a wonderful promise: “The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” It is important to note the context of this promise, because that’s where we find the condition: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (verse 6). God’s peace is promised to guard those who pray—with thanksgiving—about everything. This peace will transcend our ability to understand it.

    There are other gifts of God that are not fully comprehensible to us. The gift of salvation is “indescribable” (2 Corinthians 9:15). The complexity and wisdom of God’s plan is inscrutable (Isaiah 55:8–9). According toEphesians 3:19, the love of Christ is something else so great we will never fully understand it. Likewise, human reasoning is incapable of fully comprehending the peace of God.

    The believer who places his or her full confidence in a loving God and is thankful in every circumstance will possess a supernatural peace. An inner calm will dominate the heart. The faithful believer will know peace—his heart and mind are “guarded” by it—despite the tempest raging without. No one, especially those outside of Christ, will be able to fathom that peace. To most, it will remain a mystery how someone can be so serene in the midst of turmoil.

    The peace that comes from being in a right relationship with God is not the peace of this world. The world’s peace depends on having favorable circumstances: if things are going well, then we feel peaceful; when things go awry, the peace quickly dissipates. Jesus made the distinction between His peace and the world’s vacillating peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:27).

    God’s supernatural peace surpasses natural understanding. A cancer patient who experiences a remission of the disease may proclaim, “I am so thankful to God!” That is praise. A cancer patient who is dying and in pain may calmly say, “Everything is all right. I claim Romans 8:28, and I have peace in my heart.” That is “the peace that passes all understanding.”

    Also:
    Proverbs 3:5-6
    Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

    Reply
  5. Tiffany

    Thank you Barb!
    This is one of my favorite articles both for the recipe and the message. Thank u for taking the time to enlighten us with something so simple yet therapeutic and too often taken for granted.

    Reply
  6. Jimmy Li

    Hi Barbara

    I would like to say a word of “thanks” for your insights.

    How true it is for a person to lash out when the focus is on something un-comfortable, such as change.
    And we do know inside that change is inevitable. But knowing that each new day is fresh and comes with new possibitlities, let’s me know that there are new opportunities. I’m grateful for that !

    Thank you and all your followers for taking time to reply.

    And, a big thanks to those precious words from your loving mom, so wonderful and heartfelt!

    Best regards,

    Jimmy Li

    Reply
  7. Virginia Duffy

    I am thrilled to share the book, “The Healing Code” by Alexander Loyd, PhD, ND and Ben Johnson, MD, DO NMD.
    During these unusually personally challenging times, a client of mine told me of this book. It is about healing your mind and body and has healed many of my bodily problems in the short time I have been using the four quick and easy methods, about 10 minutes three times a day. This is the best path to health I have found ever! Along with all the wonderful things I have learned from you, Barbara, I am becoming healthier each day!

    Reply
  8. Connie

    Wise thoughts, words, and reminders !!! I love the way you said by not reacting you can sense possibilities brewing..
    That is very inspirational
    I will save this message for my reminder when I need it and I know I will!!! Thank You. once again !
    Best wishes for what will be

    Reply
  9. Margot Fountain

    Hi Barbara,
    You asked us to share 3 ways that gratitude helps us to cope with personal daily challenges (be they nutritional or otherwise). I’d like to share mine:
    1.I’m thankful that I decided to read this message today – its “food” at the right time for me as well. I’m also trying to cope with digestive problems, eliminate wheat from my diet and lose a few pounds.
    2. I’m truly grateful to receive the information you shared.
    3.Thanks for the recipe – my reward! This will help to get me off to a good start.

    Reply
  10. Theresa

    You are a survivor and this too shall pass! “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time , accepting hardship as a pathway to peace. Taking as He did this sinful world, not as I would have it. Trusting that if I do all things according to His will I will be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy forever in the next”. Hope this helps. It got and gets me through life! I love to write and am a huge believer in gratitude before all else. Please don’t tell me you are leaving your practice since I hope to meet with you in the Fall. However , do what is best for you!! Xoxo. Oh and can your mom adopt me ? Love her messages and miss having my mom even at the age of 61. Best, Theresa thanks for sharing and will keep you and yours in my prayers!!?

    Reply
    1. Barbara M Mendez, RPh, MS

      Thanks Theresa! And no, I’m not leaving my practice. But thank you for your kind comment and know I am ok and so is my family….
      I appreciate your note and I thank you again for taking the time to share your wisdom with me 🙂

      Reply
  11. irene

    Barbara, I went off wheat last November and I feel so much better. I am a bread and pasta lover and have found many gluten free options and have no trouble eating out. In fact, I don’t fill up on bread before the meal arrives. Other than digestive issues, I have no serious medical condition so I can cheat once in a while. It’s definitely been a positive change in my diet. Thanks for your inspiration and hope future news is good news.

    Reply
  12. martine

    Take good care of yourself. I am a psychotherapist/ hypnotherapist and one technique to use would be to take the problem and see what it will mean in one month, two months, a year, two years from now..loop it out. Know that life is mutable.

    Nothing stays the same and new things can come in.

    Kind, loving regards, Martine

    Reply
  13. Iraida Mendez

    Once again you make me feel so proud and happy of being your mother!. You are so wise, so smart and so sensitive that I just want to reach out and hug you again and again. And, I am so grateful for having you, for your life, for every thing that you do and for every thing that you are!. I do say thanks every day for all my blessings, great and small, and somehow it makes me feel better!. Thank you again, for being you!. Love you, Mom

    Reply
    1. Barbara Mendez RPh MS Post author

      Thanks mom. Actually, when I think about gratitude I think about how you express gratitude in big and small ways and how the simplicity of that makes you a happy, balanced and healthy person. So thank YOU for teaching me that lesson~
      Love you!

      Reply
  14. Lisa

    I’ve been through rough times and I am here to say that by feeling the feelings and keeping myself healthy were the keys to finding peace again. It takes time and practice and – I agree – gratitude to realize that this is life with all its stuff. Hope you are ok. Keep doing your work. It is inspiring!

    Reply
    1. Barbara Mendez RPh MS Post author

      Thanks Lisa! I appreciate it. I’m ok…. sitting with it is interesting because there is also a sense of possibility that is brewing because I am not so busy reacting. Meditation helps, gratitude is everything, and eating well and working out are saviors, as you well know~
      Hope you are well!
      xo

      Reply

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