When I find myself questioning my ability to make my dreams come true, and I feel my self-confidence begin to waiver, I look for unexpected blessings. The very best way to calibrate your dream compass is to count your blessings.
Especially unexpected blessings.
I’ve been pursuing my dream to empower women for over a decade. Sometimes I hear feedback about how I’ve helped women gain confidence in themselves. But I still wonder if my never-ending encouraging social media posts, be-fierce articles, and body-confident photography sessions intended to encourage women are making any difference.
The times when I look for unexpected benedictions from the universe, it always answers. This week was no different. My unexpected blessing appeared in a message sent to me through my phone on a sleepless night as I lay in bed tossing and turning in my dark hour of doubt. For whatever reason, I picked up my phone and read my messages. Then I cried.
There it was, glowing up through the darkness, my answer, my unexpected blessing to count–
Hey Iman, I know it has been a good long while and I hope you are doing well, I know this is random but I just wanted to say thank you so much for doing your inner beauty project back in 2011. I was needing some self-encouragement this week and I was able to find my letter still in the article you wrote and I just burst into tears of joy that all of the letters and all of the comments are still there. I’m sure you have gotten a lot of “thank you’s” surrounding the project and it’s because you deserve them! Iman, that project changed my life once for the better and I think it’s about to again. Sincerely with all of my heart, I thank you for that because I know that the amount of people that were reached and helped through something you started is now boundless. You are wonderful and so I just wanted to make sure you still knew that! – Laurel
The majority of empirical studies indicate that there is an association between gratitude and a sense of overall well-being. (Source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). Research has also shown that athletes with higher levels of gratitude increased their self-esteem over time. It seems there is a clear association between gratitude and personal satisfaction which leads to enhanced self-esteem. Even the Dharma teacher, Phillip Moffitt, stated, “The Buddhist practice of cultivating gratitude leads to the direct experience of the interconnectedness of all of life.”
But there’s also an essential piece to the gratitude process you cannot ignore, and that is that you must be open to it. You must be willing to look for the unexpected blessings in your life. You need to be able to remove the negative filter through which you are viewing your current situation and look for what the universe is offering that you simply aren’t seeing.
You have to be willing to search for the unexpected blessing.
Haven’t you experienced some awful setback in life that seemed catastrophic at the moment but upon reflection later in life you find it was the point when your world changed to allow you to move into a new and better place? Sometimes you become so stuck in your life-ruts that the universe has to throw you a curveball to get you to move along your path in life.
Being grateful is the slave that soothes the burn of change that is unexpectedly, and often painfully, thrust upon you.
Counting your unexpected blessings is akin to throwing a life-preserver to your self-esteem when you are drowning in a sea of heartache and doubt. Dreamers are especially prone to despair and disappointment because you take risks to move your big dream forward. You experience a lot of rejection, and you have to be able the pick yourself up and begin anew. Gratitude becomes the outstretched hand that helps you stand up again.
So fear not, dreamers, when your dreams change. Count your blessings and get back on the dream journey. Your self-esteem needs you!
Iman Woods is an American artist who specializes in pin-up photography. Through a unique and therapeutic process, she’s spent over a decade in perfecting, Iman helps women undo the damage from a negative self-image and unrealistic beauty industry expectations. She helps women embrace their own style of beauty and see themselves in a new light. You can find her on her website, Iman Woods.