Have you ever felt sad or defeated and then someone said, “Be grateful!” and it just didn’t help? Ever feel lost and confused and totally without hope and then a well-meaning friend says, “Think about what you have to be grateful for!” and you suddenly regret ever bringing it up?
It can really make you feel like a jerk. And then you feel worse. And then you start feeling guilty for not being grateful. And THEN you associate the very idea of gratitude with how much of a loser you are.
I’ve been there. And so have many of us. We can really have it drilled into us how we are supposed to be. But the truth is, we feel how we feel.
We can’t really move through a feeling state until we’ve owned it and felt it. Add guilt and shame on top of it, and the emotions get sticky. Then the feelings linger and start to fuel the mind’s need to create stories and then those stories tell us there’s something wrong or “off” about us…and soon we’re mired in a stuck state.
So during this season of giving thanks and experiencing gratitude please remember:
1. You get to feel what you feel. Your emotions are your moment-to-moment inner temperature. They will change, since emotions always shift. But for the moment, you get to feel exactly how you feel.
2. Just because you’re upset about something doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate the good in your life. It isn’t black and white and all or nothing. We can want to change our lives – or change the world – while still seeing all that is right about it.
3. A little gratitude goes a long way. You can’t muster feeling grateful for your whole entire big fat life? That’s OK. Maybe you feel grateful that your friend is stopping by later. Or that you’re wearing your favorite sweater. Or that you don’t have to do a thing for the next five minutes before class starts. Appreciating a small thing unleashes some gratitude juice that can warm up your heart. And a warm heart helps you feel more relaxed and at ease.
So it doesn’t really matter what you feel grateful for. And it’s alright if you feel down or see what needs shifting in your life. And hey, those well-meaning buddies who tell you to look on the bright side are just trying to help. They care. And I think that’s something to be grateful for…even though they might drive you crazy sometimes.
About the Author: Sarah TAYLOR is one of Your Monthly Mentors, a meditation teacher and a Master Level Reiki Practitioner, as well as an actor, comedian, and writer based in Los Angeles, CA. Drawing from a Buddhist background as well as the other non-dual spiritual traditions, her classes and talks are accessible and filled with humor. She was a series regular for three seasons on NBC’s “In Gayle We Trust”, can be seen in the comedy feature, “The Golden Scallop” and has made appearances on Hot In Cleveland, Bunheads, and numerous other TV shows and films. Read More…