Ken Page discusses how the pressure to feel grateful for everything hurts us.
Cultivating gratitude is wonderful, but forced gratitude clouds our judgement, and usually mutates into self-recrimination. Especially during holiday times, we’re constantly exhorted to feel gratitude, but who teaches us to honor feelings of non-gratitude: emptiness, longing, or a gut-level sense that something’s wrong? These troubling feelings hold half the key for achieving our most precious life-goals.
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. As I describe in my book Deeper Dating, 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.
Originally published at PsychologyToday.com.
Photo: B Rosen/Flickr
Follow Ken Page on Twitter @KenPageLCSW
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