As the holidays approach, so do messages of gratitude. It is Thanksgiving week in the United States—a time traditionally set aside to celebrate the abundance of the harvest with family and friends, and to give thanks for all the gifts that life has given us over the past year.
You probably already know that developing a gratitude practice is valuable any time of the year. Feeling grateful can open your heart and actually rewire your brain, allowing feelings of peace and happiness to flow more easily into your day-to-day consciousness. Of course, daily prayer and meditation can help us create a grateful mindset. But I also love to share this very practical approach from the folks at Unstuck: 9 Ways To Cultivate Gratitude.
Feelings of "Non-Gratitude" May Reveal the Truth
What happens, though, when we're having difficulty connecting with gratefulness. You know what I mean—those times when you feel overwhelmed by all that isn't going right in your life. You know you "should" feel grateful for what you do have, but very real and pressing problems have you backed against a wall, and a way forward just isn't clear.
If you do have a daily prayer/meditation routine established, this will help you uncover the truths of your situation. But you may need an extra boost of self-acceptance—and the permission to feel what you feel. These excerpts are from an article by Ken Page, L.C.S.W., called The Healing Gift of Non-Gratitude (I've put some key ideas in bold):
"In our quest for growth, we must mature past the dehumanizing, robotic cheerfulness of “positive thinking”, which pressures us to be grateful for all things always. As if any time we’re not grateful, we’re at fault. Chloroforming our innate sense of discrimination leads to debilitating self-doubt, not enlightenment. Often, the opposite of gratitude is not ingratitude—it’s self love....
Countless times, I’ve seen people keep trying to convince themselves to be more accepting, more patient, more disciplined—to be the bigger person, when their gut-level discomfort is dead-on accurate. I’ve watched so many loved ones and clients stay too long in unhealthy relationships and jobs, just because they thought they weren’t strong enough, grateful enough, or disciplined enough to fix things....
The places where we feel most broken often don’t need to be fixed. What they need is to be heard."
If you are feeling "gut-level discomfort" in any area of your life, whether in a romantic relationship or work situation, sit quietly with yourself and listen. Know that you are enough just as you are, and only surround yourself with those who appreciate and love you. That feeling of non-gratitude may be a sign that it's time to make a change. Remember that the opposite of gratitude is not ingratitude—as we've so often heard—but an authentic expression of self love.
Robyn Wahlgast is a Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Book a private consultation or subscribe to her FREE dating and relationship newsletter and get priority access to all new content.