Last week, a friend asked how I was doing. I told her that while things are good overall, I’m struggling a bit (I think “a lot going on” accurately describes the world right now).
She responded with a list of things I should be grateful for and MAN did it hit me wrong.
I gave an honest answer to her question–what else could I do?
Should I lie? Should I only give the highlights? Should I add a #blessed disclaimer to everything I say?
I was feeling gratitude guilt–when you know you should feel grateful… but don’t.
Gratitude is a proven tool to improve happiness. But you can’t make someone feel it–gratitude comes from within.
The only thing coming from within me at that moment was resentment. I do have so much to be grateful for, but getting a list that would fit on a Thanksgiving hand turkey didn’t help me feel it.
I had to step back and think about why my gratitude guilt was so strong.
First, I’m a big believer in feeling your feelings. I was expecting space to talk candidly and was caught off guard.
And second, I really wasn’t feeling grateful.
That’s the other half of the gratitude guilt. You do feel like you should be grateful.
I hate admitting it, but while I had acknowledged that things could be worse, it came from a place of proving I’m not a crappy person more than genuine belief. Instead of feeling defensive, I needed to take a chill pill (sorry Mary).
I’m here to say that you don’t have to feel guilty. When you’re going through a tough time, you are allowed to go through it however you need and that might include moments where it’s hard to feel grateful.
But also… I have to say that recognizing my lack of gratitude has been helpful.
Gratitude is useful, but gratitude guilt can be one more thing on a pile of shitty emotions. We have to be honest with ourselves on whether we’re feeling grateful and let others do the same.
To being better without lying through your teeth,