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  • Writer's pictureKen Clark

Being Thankful for the Protectors

At the top of any gratitude list of people we should be thankful for are those that watch out for and protect others. These are the people who guard not just the physical safety of others, but the hearts, minds and self-esteem of the people in their world. They spend their life to make sure others are safe, sometimes giving up huge pieces of who they are or what is comfortable for themselves.

While most people will naturally think of police officers, firefighters and the military, who all truly deserve to be thanked on a daily basis, this gratitude prompt is so much wider than that. It includes so many other people who we don’t immediately think of as protectors, but who at some point in our journey, protected us.

It may be a parent who protected us from shame by making sure we always had something respectable to wear, even though money was tight. It may be the person at our job who protected us from isolation by making sure we felt welcome on our first days. It may be a stranger who stood up for us when we were being bullied or a mentor who protected us from our own self-hatred and convinced us there was more to us than our mistakes.

Being thankful for the protectors in our lives takes some thinking, because they come in all shapes, sizes and job titles. Most of the time they don’t carry badges or work in an emergency room, but go by the label of friend, co-worker, neighbor or pastor. It takes thinking through our life, scrolling through our text messages or reviewing our calendar from the previous month to find the heroes that hide in plain sight. But they’re there.

Being Thankful For The Protectors: Great for Them and Us

One of our core goals at the Thanks A Billion Project is to spread the message about how deliberately developing a process of thanking people in our world changes BOTH the world around us and the world inside us. We believe that gratitude and fear cannot occupy the same space and when we jumpstart our thinking with gratitude, the reflexive fear in our life is put on mute.

Nowhere is this more true than with the people who have made us safe. When we identify the people who have brought safety, love and acceptance into our world, we remind ourselves that fears don’t always come true. We remind ourselves that people do look out for one another, that good does triumph and that we are valued enough to be protected. We remind ourselves that although the world is an imperfect place and bad things happen, there are good people in it fighting for us. Being thankful for the protectors helps our brains replace fear with hope.

Just as important, when we take the time to actually appreciate these folks, we are now doing our part to protect them. Being thankful for them tells them that their actions and sacrifices did not go unnoticed. We turn off the voice in their head that tells them that they don’t matter or aren’t appreciated. We’re helping to heal their own wounds of self-doubt, abandonment or trauma. And in doing so, we’re putting fuel in their tank to fight another day on behalf of those who need protection. We’re helping them be the best version of them that can’t help but be a hero and a protector.

Now is the moment… who protected you back then? Who protects you now?

Find that person on social media, send them a text or email, pick up the phone, tag them in the comments or send them a thank you card. If you can’t think of someone personal to your own journey, then go thank those who protect all of us. Drop off goodies at your local emergency room, tell the spouse of a first responder that their entire family’s sacrifice matters or post something to social media thanking everyone who gives years of their lives to serve in the military.

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