Now she had no need to like anyone, she was true to herself. He learned to love because he began to love himself. In recounting her life on the couch, she had discovered that within her there was another life that was as much her own as it was unknown to her. That discovery had made her stronger and freer. She had learned the healing power of the truth, since before it was made up of lies because it responded more to the desires of others than to her own. To some extent, he had been born again and this time he had done well: that is why he had the ability to be grateful for what he had received in treatment.
Gratitude, like love, needs a psychological maturation that has led us to know our limitations and to love ourselves for them, as well as to know what we need from others and what they can give us. Now, asking for and accepting what the other offers us is also recognizing what we lack.
The capacity to love and to feel gratitude is born in the first years of our life. ‘Every happy person owes his mother a debt of gratitude,’ says the British pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, and he owes it because that mother has done such an important and generous job for his mental health: she has taught him to love himself and affirm himself in her identity, allowing her to separate from her and learning to exchange useful experiences with others to understand her world.