The Truth About Gratitude
Updated: May 23
What do you do when gratitude seems impossible?
Can gratitude be harmful or have a downside?
What are the best solutions?
Let me preface this by saying I am huge Gratitude advocate. Among other things, it’s been scientifically proven to result in:
Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure;
Higher levels of positive emotions;
More joy, optimism, and happiness;
Acting with more generosity and compassion; Feeling less lonely and isolated.
The fact that it enhances our overall well-being and quality of life is nothing new. So why wouldn’t everyone focus on practicing Gratitude to the max on a daily basis? Like many things, it is easier said that done. And there are times when it is simply impossible or actually generates negative emotions.
The fact of the matter is that while we might like to constantly experience a sense of Gratitude, there are times we are so overwhelmed by the stormy circumstances that life has handed us, just getting through a day is a challenge. As one client said to me, “I get up in the morning and find myself watching the time, looking forward to the end of the day so I can escape in sleep!”
During times that are more than slightly trying and the burdens and responsibilities feel unending or insurmountable, Gratitude isn’t something that comes easy. It is also not the time to force it.
Can Gratitude be harmful?
“Finding the gift in pain” isn’t first priority when you are actually in pain. Our pain and suffering deserves our attention and shouldn’t be denied or ignored. When we do, we actually delay healing.
Being told by well-meaning people: “everything happens for a reason” or having someone suggest positive affirmations, telling you all is well in the Universe – may be beneficial and soothing in the moment. However, frequently it is a like putting a tiny Band-aid over a giant deep wound.
When all is not well in your Universe, don’t make the pain pretty, allow all those feelings! It is not only okay but advisable. If you think it makes you appear weak, let go of that idea. Eventually, this too shall pass. Even the strongest among us experience times that understandably make us feel this way. Lest we forget, we are all human.
Is there really a downside to Gratitude?
Yes, believe it or not there can be… And again, Gratitude is an incredibly powerful state to be in. But let’s take a closer look.
In this day and age we are bombarded by negativity that those states and feelings have become more predominant than positives. Some of it exists for evolutionary reasons, but our prehistoric brains have yet to catch up.
Gratitude, when used correctly, can overtake the negatives.
The dark side, typically ignored, is the way it can cause guilt or shame.
Sometimes we are afraid to admit we aren’t happy and our life isn’t anything like we want it be. We begin to think there is something wrong with us if they can’t look on the bright side and always wear a happy face.
As an example, we may have a job we detest and dread facing everyday, but think we should be grateful because at least they can pay the bills. You get the picture…
So we fake Gratitude so those around us can’t use our lack of it to make us feel worse. With others we defend ourselves telling them (even though we feel miserable) that we are grateful – all the while feeling bad because we really don’t or can’t feel grateful!
Truth be known, faking it when life is lousy can make us feel worse because it adds yet a new internal conflict.
What about solutions?!
To enjoy the powerful benefits of Gratitude, it may take time, for some more than others. After all, when things are agonizing, they are agonizing! So what can we do?
Above all else, please don’t beat yourself up because of the way you feel. There are valid reasons for the way you feel and you are entitled to feel exactly as you do. Beating yourself up only adds to the agony.
Do your best to express Gratitude for the things can like a beautiful day or the roof over your head. Even small expressions of Gratitude raise your level of happiness. A chemical response takes place that actually helps you feel better.
Create a list of issues and aspects that have you trapped in despair or unhappiness. Start working your way through them with EFT/Tapping (Emotional Freedom Techniques). If it feels like too much to handle, avoid frustration and discouragement and seek the assistance of an accomplished EFT professional.
When the time feels right to you, consider a Gratitude journal. If you can think of nothing else, begin with your ability to breathe. It can definitely help.
While it won’t your change circumstances, EFT can help diminish at the very least some of the pain. It can help you overcome self-esteem issues, guilt, shame and any other emotional issues or limiting beliefs robbing you of happiness and the life you desire and deserve. It can help you develop the courage and the strength to deal with the things you can change – and strengthen your resolve to change the things you can. And yes, even help you begin to enjoy sincere feelings of Gratitude and its advantages!
I am sincerely grateful for each of you who take the time to read what I write. Know it comes from the heart with a desire to help you improve the quality of your life.
Be kind and gentle with yourself.
By the way, some tapping tips in “When Nobody Gets It!” can help as well. You will find it here:
As always, your comments and questions are welcomed…
With respect and gratitude,