Why I Don’t Always Recommend Gratitude

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, gratitude has been on my mind. And, while I have a regular gratitude practice that you can read about below, before I do this, I want to address the pitfalls that can occur when we’re working exclusively with gratitude.

Often we are taught when something isn’t working for us or when something goes wrong to go immediately into being grateful for it. And, while this can work, it often doesn’t work when there’s a charge, trigger or untruth to it.

Let me explain.

Say a family member hurt you at some point in your life. It could be something recent or it could be something that happened when you were a kid. If you go right into gratitude, for instance, around the role they played for you, without feeling the hurt, upset or anger that came with how they showed up, your gratitude isn’t going to feel authentic. And, when something doesn’t feel authentic, in my experience, it doesn’t actually shift anything, many times, because there’s a little child that lives inside of us that’s been waiting to have a voice and wants to acknowledge the pain of that moment, even if in real time, you feel like you don’t.

Here’s another example. Say you’re in an accident early in the day and, while you’re grateful that you’re not hurt, the other driver was a real jerk. If you go right into gratitude, and don’t honor your anger or that you are shaken up, again, your gratitude is likely to feel inauthentic. And, as part of this, it ends up being a cover-up for your hurt instead of a true practice.

So, what needs to happen before you go into gratitude around something?

1. Check-in to see if there’s something you’re upset about around it.

2. If you are upset, you need to give yourself time and space to feel what is up for you.

For example, if you’re angry, you’re going to want to give yourself time and space to express that anger. For me, one of my favorite ways to express my anger is to use my body and voice, whether it’s screaming, punching or kicking. If this doesn’t resonate for you, though, find what does.

And, if you’re sad or upset about something, take time to talk with the little boy or girl that lives inside of you and ask them what they’re upset about. For instance, if someone said something mean to you, you may want to ask your little one what about what they said bothered them, and then, as if it’s happening in real time, say that out loud. (I teach more about how to do this in my In-Person and Online Workshops, as there is an art to doing this and not just getting stuck in or replaying your story over and over, which can be really easy when we’re upset about something.)

3. Once you’ve felt what is up for you, then feeling the gratitude for it is important.

Important to note: It could take several times of doing the first two steps, before you can move on to true gratitude.

For me, my daily gratitude, which I call, “Putting Gratitude On the Day”, occurs when I’m done with my day and laying in bed. At that time, I go through my day and think of all of the things I’m grateful for. As I’m thinking of each one, I feel the excitement, joy and deliciousness of each. (Getting in the feeling is an important key!)

And, in the cases of when it hasn’t been so “delicious”, for instance, if someone has done something to me that hasn’t felt good, once I’ve felt the pieces that hurt me, I’m able to own it from my highest self and really take in and appreciate how the way that they’ve showed up is calling me to more.

What’s your experience with the above? Does it resonate for you? I’d love to know! Simply comment below.

And, either way, I wish you a beautiful Thanksgiving holiday this week! There’s a ton to be grateful for. 🙂