I had a conversation with a friend today and she was describing how something in her life wasn’t going well and people would say to her;
But at least you are healthy.
You can be thankful that you live in such a great house.
And those things are true. And wonderful. And ARE something to appreciate.
But when you are feeling afraid or helpless or worried or powerless,
Having someone tell you that you ought to be be grateful,
can feel dam well annoying.
That goes for trying to appreciate on your own too.
It can make you feel WORSE because a now you feel bad for not being thankful enough.
Or you end up putting a fake happy mask over the dread and anxiety you are ACTUALLY feeling.
In those situations,
trying to be grateful is doing no good.
The whole point of being thankful is to elicit within you a FEELING of appreciation.
If the opposite is happening, you are better off not writing your ‘3 things for which you are grateful’ list.
Sure, when you are feeling more neutral or in a more positive mind space, appreciation is awesome! And I can’t recommend it highly enough.
That’s because when you are in a more positive mood, it’s not such a big jump to CREATE the feeling of appreciation .
But going from powerlessness and worry… is too large a leap.
What to do instead?
Aim for feeling SLIGHTLY better.
Not all the way in love with life and brimming with gratitude.
Just slightly shift your focus onto a thought that feels a little more calming. A bit more broad. A touch more gentle.
‘I am doing OK. Not great, but OK’
‘This is tough but tough can get easier in time’
‘Breathe. Take in a breath. That’s all I need to do right now’
‘I don’t need to fix this all at once.’
You will know you have found a more helpful thought when thinking about it makes want to breathe a little sigh of relief. When you feel your shoulder relax a little. When you feel the worry lines on your forehead soften a smidgen.
Then keep doing that.
Choose a slightly improved thought.
Let yourself notice and acknowledge that you were able to every so gently shift the feeling within you.
Do that, and you are on your way to effortless, great-feeling, overflowing states of appreciation.