Have you ever felt that you just don’t want to be grateful? That little voice inside your head that rebels, throws a tantrum, and says, “I don’t want to be grateful!”
I’ve been there. Despite the fact that gratitude has been a long term daily practice for me, for a few weeks when I asked myself what I was grateful for my body would tighten up and my mind would go blank.
A part of me just did not want to go there.
Gratitude is a brilliant basic practice to cultivate. The more you focus on the good in your life, the more good you will attract in and the happier you will feel.
So why was I resistant all of a sudden?
I uncovered two reasons:
- Staying miserable made me feel safe.
Being happy and joyful translates to feeling expansive, open, energised and optimistic, which means trying new things, taking risks and getting adventurous. But by staying stuck in a negative spiral, taking risks and getting adventurous suddenly feels too daunting and leaves you feeling vulnerable. For me, it felt safer to stay in a more miserable place than to open myself to potential pain and failure.
- Practising gratitude when you’re not happy can feel like an imposter.
When I was asking myself why I didn’t want to be grateful, the answer came back, “Because there is shit I am not happy about!”. Part of me felt that if I was focusing on all the positive in my life, I was ignoring the negative and therefore saying it was OK for things to be that way. However, this was where I was getting it wrong.
Therefore instead of feeling I shouldn’t pay any attention to the things I wasn’t happy about (à la Law of Attraction), I realised it was necessary in order for me to be able to be grateful, but that this attention had to be constructive.
If this resonates with you, here are a few ways you can focus on the negative in a positive way, to attract more positivity into your life.
- Acknowledge that there are areas in your life you are not happy about.
This one is really simple- just say out loud, ‘I am not happy about x, y and z.’
- Give yourself permission to go negative.
Go to town! Get it all out. All your worries, fears, grievances and petty complaints. Keep on going until you run out of steam. You could write it down, or voice record it.
- Do not judge your feelings.
Honour your feelings by giving them constructive airtime. Recognise that this is healthy self-expression and be happy with yourself for giving yourself what you need (an outlet). No judgement required.
- Be curious
Once you’ve got all your negative feelings out, resist the urge to think or talk about the topic further. By getting all these feeling out there should be nothing left for your brain to grab onto!
Then watch and see what happens.
When I do this exercise, I feel a great sense of stillness in the aftermath. I feel room again for hope, positivity, wonder, joy – and gratitude! I hope you do too.