Does Gratitude Ever Get in The Way of Our True Emotions?
The more I think about the question the more I realise that there could be something in this ..
The definition of GRATUTUDE is to be thankful, and yes it is a wonderful thing.
To be sincerely grateful for elements in your life, feels wonderful and good, in the heart and in the soul. But what if you convinced yourself to feel grateful because the only other option was to feel the pain, the hurt, the betrayal? What if you were told you had to be grateful by others? Would this not just compound the pain by adding guilt to the other initial underlying emotions - which were normal and natural BUT stopped?
This week I revisited my Loss History Graph, which is an assignment in the Grief Recovery Method. I had a light bulb moment when I realised that the 2 life-changing events (over 26years ago) had been acknowledged only in 'grateful mode'. I had never truly acknowledged or gone anywhere near releasing the stronger emotions - the devastation, the anger, the guilt, the incredibly deep sadness, all of which that I felt at the time, with every bone in my body, with every cell in my body. I felt these emotions at the very core of me. But looking back, I feel I 'dimmed', or 'played down' if you like, my real emotions. I convinced myself, or perhaps I had hoped, to feel grateful because the reality was too scary at the time to face.
Another crucial element of The Grief Recovery Method is taking look at the myths around grief and the intellectual comments that those around us often say. The 6 myths are: Don't feel sad, Replace the loss, Grieve alone, Just give it time, Be strong for others and Keep busy. I can see that instead of feeling sad about these life-changing events I convinced myself to feel grateful - 'no-one died, we lived, no broken bones, no life-threatening injuries or disease' etc etc. To succeed at 'being strong for others' I also had to block my true emotions - if I had given in to them (which I so SHOULD have done) then I was failing at 'being strong'. You can see how unbelievably destructive these myths around grief and loss can be.
When we grieve a loss we feel it in our hearts. Intellectual comments, despite the possibility of being a fact, do not benefit us emotionally. So comments such as " Be grateful you can have more children.". "Be grateful you had him so long", "Be grateful that he didn't hit you." etc etc. maybe true facts, MAYBE, But they are trying to heal your heart with a statement for the head. Not one of those statements above would make you feel loved, listened to, understood or supported.
There is a great saying "Feel what you feel, when you feel it" and if that feeling is not gratitude then don't beat yourself up. I have become increasingly aware of the enormous importance that is put upon gratitude within the realms of Spirituality. I am not disputing, whatsoever the beauty of such a true feeling, but I am suggesting however that that feeling of gratitude is a sincere one. If it isn't then you could be blocking your true emotions and that can be anything but healthy.
When we deny our true feelings we deny ourselves the truth. When we deny ourselves the truth then we're not living life for us, we're living it for others. Denying our truth leads to confusion, irritation, frustration, anxiety, depression and ill health too. We know the heart affects the mind and the body too.
Lean in to your true feelings, honour them, embrace the tears, the screams, the frustrations. And when they have passed, there may be, but only may be a sense of gratitude fall upon you. If it doesn't then that's OK too. Be honest, Be real, Be true to you. .