I’ve embarked on a new crusade in my daily life, something I had never done before previously with any type of consistency whatsoever. That is, finding something, at least 1 thing, and sometimes only 1 thing, to be grateful for each day.
As a person who has spent a significant part of their life being a minimizer and “glass half empty” type of thinker, trying to embrace gratefulness on a regular basis is not exactly a walk in the park. Even in the last couple of years, where I have been blessed to be able work to with some amazing helping professionals in my healing journey, it’s not still easy.
My default response to anything used to always be, “yeah but….” or some similar type of rebuttal to anything that was deemed positive in my life. Whether it was a life changing event, or something seemingly small, if it was good and beneficial to me, I would add that clause to the end of it. It was a defense mechanism to not allow myself to get my hopes up that anything good would last.
If I set myself up to expect failure, I could embrace the good even more if the worst-case scenario didn’t happen. At least that’s what I thought.
Looking back now, it’s pretty clear that way of thinking has contributed to this state of sometimes just not wanting to feel grateful for something. I was hoping for the best, expecting the worse, and not being able to adequately deal with either scenario in a healthy way.
I’m not here to suggest to you that I have it all figured out, got it all together every day, and that nothing ever bothers or triggers me. That’s far from the case, because I’m human after all. What I am suggesting to you is that it’s while my old way of thinking definitely contributed to the “less than grateful” attitude about life, it’s still OK to have those days when you just don’t want to be grateful.
Nobody is truly happy go lucky all the time, every single minute of every single day of their lives. Even if that’s the way that they portray themselves to everyone around, each of us struggles with something at times. Some are just better at hiding it than others.
That begs the question…Why is it then OK to not feel grateful sometimes? Well the simple fact is that some days we just don’t feel very good about ourselves, about our home situation, our jobs, or any number of areas in our lives. Trying to force yourself to feel something that you aren’t connecting too can be a slippery slope.
There’s a fine line between embracing the positive qualities about ourselves and the good things in our life, and just going through the motions of saying them without believing them. Basically, trying to feel grateful when you just aren’t feeling like feeling grateful.
It doesn’t have to mean that we are bad people, that we are ungrateful in general, or that we are just miserable and doomed to bring everyone around us down to a state of despair. It just means that, for whatever reason that hour, that day, that weekend, just may seem overwhelming and we need to acknowledge that, and not shame ourselves.
Sit with that realization, give yourself time, space and permission to believe that it’s OK to not always feel grateful; knowing that the feeling will pass in time, and that it doesn’t mean that we are dooming ourselves to a life of misery.
I find that when I try and tell myself something that I’m not ready to hear, it might as well go in one ear and out the other. I’m not going to retain it or likely remember most of what was said to me, what I read, heard, or watched. I have to give myself permission to be angry at something, be sad about a situation, and wish things had turned out differently.
But, and here’s the key, I set a time limit of how long I’m going to allow myself to feel this way. Perhaps it’s a few hours, an afternoon, a weekend, whatever. I make sure to acknowledge my feelings, sit with them, learn from them, and realize they are important. They are part of what makes me who I am.
Then when my time limit is up, I gently and slowly start to pick myself back up and do some self-care. Which for me is music, reading, walking, writing, or going out to the diner. Then as my mind begins to focus on something other than myself, I begin to see new things to be grateful for. I start to realize that while my temporary ungratefulness was OK for a time, there are plenty of things in my life that I can be appreciative for.
Then I will begin to think on those things, little by little, and my mindset goes from one of “yeah but…” to Gratefulness for what I have in my life. I may not be rich, live in a huge house, be a movie star, or __________________ but I’m alive and making a difference in my own life of healing, and in the lives of others. I have amazing kids, two cool cats, some friends, and I’m finding my purpose in life one day at a time…and when you spell it out, that ain’t half bad. 🙂
You have a purpose in life too, you are on this planet for a reason. It may be hard to embrace that at times, and that’s OK. Take the great with the not so great, and give yourself permission to just be who you are. Keeping in mind that when you embrace the good; the not so good doesn’t seem to hang around as long.
Pictures courtesy of Pixabay. Social Media images created by Matt Pappas