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Gratitude journals suck and here's why. Ep 13.




 

I think gratitude practices have been forced upon us. Don’t get me wrong, having some form of gratitude practice can have huge value BUT I feel like you should be allowed to wallow in your feelings sometimes. Sometimes things aren’t feeling great for you and being forced to list things you’re supposed to feel grateful for can feel phony and like you’re lying to yourself. This can make you feel even worse and actually guilty that you’re NOT feeling happier than you currently are and that you’re not constantly grateful for the things you’re supposed to be grateful for.


That’s toxic bullsh*t right there. Don’t do that to yourself.


Gratitude Journals Are Annoying 🙄

I’m tired of hearing gurus on social media, podcasts, news articles, etc. talk about how their gratitude practice changed their life for the better both mentally and physically.


That's cool. Great for them. For me, and at least a bunch of others based on my googling, feel like it's annoying and can even be harmful.


For a while I tried drinking the kool-aid of being grateful each day and writing it in a journal. If you listened to Is your morning routine killing your productivity? Mine was…Ep6 then you know that I used to have a whole morning routine of hype up and gratitudes that I eventually realized bored me and ironically decreased my productivity.



I would mostly write some version of:

“I'm thankful for my husband for being such a great husband and father and being so supportive, I'm grateful for my daughter that she's so sweet and thoughtful, and I'm grateful for my supportive friends.”


After a while I started to feel like I wasn’t grateful enough and I should be MORE grateful than those same three things. So I started writing stuff like, I don't know...I guess I’m grateful that:

  • I have a mini heater next to me because I'm cold and I guess some people don't have that?

  • I have clean water in my water bottle and that I didn't have to walk 20 miles and carry it on my head in a dirty bucket in the scorching heart

  • I have working electricity so I can work from home?

  • my legs work and I can go to the gym to workout?

It made me pause and ask myself “...am I just an ungrateful jerk…?”


Are You an Ungrateful Jerk?? 🤨

I wasn’t connected to the things I should have been grateful for. I was just writing these things because I SHOULD be grateful because others don’t have them.


But I've always had clean water, I've always had working electricity. It’s hard to feel that grateful for something that’s always been there and you’ve never not had. Does that make sense?


It was basically peer pressuring me to feel grateful for things in comparison to others. And I should be grateful for this.


I started feeling tinges of guilt for not appreciating every second that I was using my legs, or drinking clean water, or using the heater because others don’t have those things but I do.


It was a weird thing to process when I realized my gratitude practice was actually putting guilty thoughts into my head. All of my plights just seemed now to scream “look at all the stuff you have, walk off with your healthy legs and go chug some clean water you whiny B!”



What I’m Most Grateful For 👯‍♀️

What I’m most grateful for were the relationships I’ve built for myself over the past few years that had nothing to do with what I've achieved or what I’ve been able to accumulate, other than a lot of internal work because I was previously unable to create healthy relationships of any kind up until a few years ago.


Relationships take a lot of work which is something I don’t think people actively think about on a regular basis. To be a good friend you have to remember certain things, you have to actively engage, be able to allow them space to not smother them (that was a big issue for me due to insecure attachment issues).


So the thing I’m most proud of and grateful for isn’t that I had a daughter at 20 years old and then went back to school full time to earn a 3.9 GPA and didn’t become a statistic (which is what alot of people say I should be proud of), it’s that I’m now able to build and maintain healthy relationships.


I think this is because I knew I could write papers and turn them in before deadlines, that’s never been hard for me. Getting pregnant at 19 was just a hiccup to that. But my relationship to relationships has changed and grown because I put work in to fix an issue I realized I was causing a few years ago.


Active vs. Passive Gratitude ✍️

Other than the fact that gratitude journals were making me feel like a whiny B and in constant comparison to others less fortunate, it’s a passive act of gratitude. There’s no focus on actually showing your gratitude to the people and thing’s you’re grateful for.


For me, the journals were silly because it felt like just documenting what I already knew and tried to show to the people I was listing everyday in my journal. I was already actively showing in my gratitude to those people in the moment I was grateful for them.


Writing in my journal everyday became an annoyance and felt disconnected from what I was already doing on a daily basis and a waste of paper.


The biggest issue in gratitude journaling is the passive act of writing random gratitudes vs. actively living them.


Hashtag Living in the Gratitude Moment 😸

Showing your gratitude IN the moment is better. For example, when you feel good because a friend did something nice, you tell them right then and the. You don't later write “dear gratitude diary, I'm thankful for Audrey today because she helped me solve a problem.” But all you said to them in person in the moment was "thanks."


No. Make your “thank yous” mean something.


This can and probably will feel really awkward and corny at first. Taking the extra moment to be truthful and vulnerable in how you’re feeling takes effort. Being sincere in any emotion takes vulnerability. Vulnerable feelings are weird and they suck, and I hate them too. But you eventually get used to that corny uncomfortable feeling and it becomes more of a habit to just say how you actually feel.



People usually appreciate you sharing how you made them feel or a nice word you might have. Even if they don’t say anything back or don’t appreciate it, that’s on them.


No hard feelings towards them. Maybe they aren’t used to it either and you made them uncomfortable. Or maybe they didn’t care. BUT that’s not your problem. You at least said your feels and can feel better knowing that you spoke your truth.



I Rest My Gratitude Journals Suck Case 👩‍⚖️

Gratitude journals may work for some people, but for a lot of us out here, obviously myself included, they just feel dishonest and silly.


Understanding the point of what a gratitude practice is supposed to serve and actively living in that gratitude is much more impactful than passively listing random things that you should feel grateful for when you compare your life to others less fortunate.



Challenge for You! 🥳

Think of something you’re grateful for. Just one. If “grateful” is a loaded term for you think of it as something or someone that you have strong positive feelings for on a daily basis. Don’t think about it in terms of anyone else's life. Just say what gives YOU joy and gratitude. If you want, you can write it down. Or don’t. Save the paper :)


Cliff Notes 🧗🏻‍♂️

Gratitudes practices have been forced upon us and I’m over it. Sometimes things aren’t feeling great for you and being pressured to be grateful for all that you do have, can make you feel even worse with a new layer of guilt for now being a selfish, ungrateful B. That’s toxic bullsh*t right there. Don’t do that to yourself.

In this episode we discuss:

  • the impactful difference between an active vs. passive gratitude practice

  • how comparing your life to others less fortunate is a terrible way to feel forced gratitude

  • how feeling poorly and listing things you should feel grateful for can actually make you feel worse

  • being grateful for things you’re actually grateful for, without shame or shoulds


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