I know I’m a day late, but let’s talk gratitude. The realities of gratitude. I am not here to gratitude-shame you. I hate that shit SO MUCH. No one gets to tell you how you should feel, and don’t you forget that. Ever been trying to open up to someone about what a bad place you are in mentally/emotionally/spiritually only to have them tell you that you should be grateful for what you have? Not only is that not actually listening or holding space for you, it’s gaslighting you for trying to open up and ask for support the only way you know how. Don’t even get me started.
Sometimes it feels difficult to be grateful for the tougher challenges in life. We may tell ourselves that they are learning experiences. We might even ask ourselves, “What is this teaching me” rather than “Why is this happening to me?” It’s definitely the more positive mindset, but finding gratitude for something that causes great pain and grief is an advanced skill that takes patience and commitment to hone.
Gratitude is a choice, just like any outlook in life. Sometimes it may not feel like a choice – especially when you’re mired in a tiresome rut of depression, anxiety, and traumatic past experiences. I never thought I could feel anything except for hopeless, bitter, unworthy, and trapped. Love myself? Hilarious. Nothing seemed further from my desperate, pleading grasp.
I’d been told over and over again by a multitude of well-meaning people that positive thinking and gratitude are something I can decide to engage in at any time. It was up to me to shift my way of thinking. That’s great and all, but telling someone who is so stuck in their trauma-based patterns and depression to choose gratitude is like telling a thirsty person with no arms or legs to crawl over to the water and drink. It’s not that easy. When you’re in that position, you have no idea how to begin changing.
So yes, gratitude is a choice, but you might need help to get to a place where you can even see it as such. My personal shift began when I was so desperate, afraid and low that I knew I had to start looking for support from someone, somewhere. I dove in – I knew that if I didn’t, I was never going to have a decent quality of life. Once I admitted that I couldn’t handle my pain on my own, everything began shifting for the better. It’s amazing how the universe will reach out and support you when you allow it to happen. It hasn’t been a quick process, and it’s not always a clear one. I just do the best I can, every day, and accept that some days my best won’t feel that great. I am not perfect, but I am learning, and that’s all I can ask of myself.
Yes, it is possible for you to shift your perspective, but I’m not going to tell you how or when to do so. Everyone has their own process. Everyone has their own needs. Just as an addict will never stay clean unless they have made an autonomous decision to do so, you will never choose a positive, grateful perspective just because someone says you should. The shift comes from something inside you that decides, no more. We have to find another way, and we have to admit that we need support in that choice.
Know that I am here for you if and when you are ready to shift. Be gentle with yourself. You are unlearning years, perhaps decades, of toxic thought patterns. Go slow, take the space you need, and set any necessary boundaries with those around you. You got this. I love you, and you are so worthy of your own love too.