Growing up as a PK (pastor’s kid) in a small country church, I often heard the Bible verse, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” This was usually a lighthearted reference to a small turnout when the weather was bad, or several families were on vacation. When I, the “guest speaker,” arrived to lead support group in Elwood, the leader Gail apologized for the low turnout. With this Bible verse at the forefront of my mind, I thanked her for having me and told her we’d have a good evening with those who were there.
Attending a small support group can be beneficial in different ways than a larger group. It’s a personal, intimate setting where everyone has a chance to share. Those who may not speak up in a larger group sometimes come alive when there are only a handful of people to talk to. For those who showed up, thank you. I hope you share my feelings that this was a caring group where you can give and receive support for many months to come.
Our discussion was free-flowing, and we covered many topics related to the psychology of behavior change, addiction, and persistence. To me the most memorable part of the night was our discussion about gratitude.
We all have things to be grateful for. How many times do we instead focus on the things that aren’t going well? Simple practices like keeping a gratitude journal can shift our attention, change our perspective, and improve our attitude and mood. It’s something anyone can do. This practice can be related to success with bariatric surgery in many ways. In my experience, negative life stress often leads to someone losing focus on their goals, using food to cope, decreasing physical activity, and ultimately gaining weight. If during these times we can put the life stress in the context of the good things in our life, we will weather the stressful season much better.
Gail, a skilled therapist I’d highly recommend, made a wonderful suggestion. When you practice gratitude, do so consistently and in small chunks. It’s easy to try to do it all at once when we feel thankful and things are going our way. But often the objective is to realize what we’re thankful for during tough times. Searching for one thing on one day can truly change our perspective. She described in detail an inviting tree visited by birds that centered her one day. A man in the group described a conversation he had with a stranger that was meaningful. One person was grateful for the quality time she recently spent with a loved one before she passed. Another lady unexpectedly thanked me for helping her get to the place of having surgery. My heart was full.
If you live near Elwood, come to support group. I think you'll be pleased with your decision.