Feel first, then find gratitude

When I started writing about the beneftis of practicing gratitude 25 days ago, I never imagined how much more grateful I would feel in my daily life.

I also realized something important: While gratitude turns what we have into enough, it does not remove life circumstances we wish we didn’t have. Furthermore, if we don’t feel sad/angry/annoyed about something we don’t want in our life, gratitude is a lot harder to find and practice.

I am a ‘wear my heart on my sleeve’ Italian kinda gal. I’m emotional, I yell, I can’t imagine getting botox (NOT because I don’t need it or don’t believe in it!) because I furrow my brow and raise my eyebrows so much you’d think I was Carrie from Homeland (watch five minutes of Homeland if you don’t get the reference.)

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So imagine my emotional, Italian self when I realized some months ago I was using gratitude as a way to avoid negative feelings. I was so angry with my husband about an ongoing issue. Like really pissed. No, I mean full on F-bomb pissed. But instead of allowing my self to feel truly angry, I mentally said “He is so good though, good at this and this and that – be grateful he is so wonderful.”

Another example: When I went back to work after being a stay at home mom, I felt like I had no right to complain about it – I got to stay home for years and years and YEARS and thought “Who do I think I am? It’s time to buck up – I am so lucky to have such a great job, close to home, pays well……”

While all these things are true; I am lucky – Hubs IS wonderful and perfect for me, 90% of the time. I am lucky to have a great job. BUT, guess what? I get angry with HUBS. I get fed up. I think about running away some days. I prefer to be a stay at home mom and it pisses me off that right now, I can’t.

These are real feelings. Burying them in gratitude only made me more angry, frustrated and resentful. it took me away from my truth. We need to feel. We need to express feelings. Bottling them up only serves to make them stronger until one day we explode or make ourselves sick.

So when I exploded because I was making myself sick, I realized “Holy shit – gratitude cannot mask our feelings! That’s so unfair to gratitude.” We need to feel and let it out. I don’t recommend wallowing in negative feelings for too long – how long is really up to you. I know I’ve felt angry enough, sad enough and frustrated enough when feeling that way starts to weigh me down. When I feel the pity party taking over my life –  I allow gratitude to come in and clean up.

Gratitude is a kick ass cleaning lady. When gratitude takes over life falls into place, the rooms smell fresh, the air is light and the glass is clear. Gratitude brings clarity and appreciation for what is good. And there is a lot of good.

We can more easily allow bad feelings in when we have a regular gratitude practice in place. The negative feelings are easier to manage, we come back from our falls and feelings of despair more quickly and we can come back to embracing gratitude.

We can and must acknowledge what is wrong and we MUST feel whatever emotion comes with it. Then, with open arms, we allow our friend gratitude to walk on in and take over. Our world becomes calm again. Our world is enough (even when the shit show arrives.) Our world is lovely.

Just a few days left of #30daysofgratitude! How are you doing with your gratitude practice? Let me know in the comments below!

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