“The miracle of gratitude is that it shifts your perception to such an extent that it changes the world you see.” -Dr. Robert Holden
When we are feeling negative, gratitude is the last thing we think we could feel. We also tend to go into a place of feeling bad about feeling bad! We tell ourselves that we shouldn’t feel a certain way, because we would be happier if we didn’t, or we think it’s “bad” to feel anger or jealousy or resentment. Unfortunately, feeling bad about our emotions will never get us to a better place. It just creates more negativity. Instead, we have to find a way to be grateful for even our negative emotions.
In order to accomplish this, an important first step is not to have such negative self-talk. Stop beating yourself up. Your negative feelings are just fine. They are actually helping you by telling you what you’re unhappy with! It’s telling you that you need to change something in your life. It’s a chance to show up for yourself. This is important information to have! Because once you have identified what changes you need to make, you can set out to make them.
This can feel like an overwhelming task, but one thing I invite you to try to help this right away is to start getting more emotional support by supporting yourself by not having that negative self-talk. This is really important because your emotions are a part of you, and you need to show up for yourself by accepting yourself (negative emotions included) before anyone else will be able to. Once you feel you are in a place of greater acceptance of yourself and your emotions, then I would invite you to move on to communicating with other players in your life who you may need to clarify things with or make amends with.
Here’s an example. A friend of mine was feeling incredibly angry towards her boyfriend for canceling plans on her at the last minute all the time. But, she felt like she needed to be kind and understanding, so she didn’t speak up about it. Eventually the feelings would fester, they would have a blow up argument, and the cycle would repeat. If instead she first accepts that her anger is there to tell her something (“I’m angry because it hurts my feelings to have our plans canceled because it makes me feel unimportant”), she can accept the way she feels as a part of her. Then she can talk with her boyfriend about his commitment to her and to their relationship from a place of self-acceptance and self-care. It doesn’t turn into a huge argument because she is coming from a place of her own power instead of a place of defensiveness, and she is able to make a decision about whether to stay in the relationship or not. She first showed up for herself, and then she asked her boyfriend to show up for her, too.
See, her negative emotions told her something really important. Don’t beat yourself up for having them!
So how will gratitude help in this process? This goes back to my post on turning the negative into positive. Try thanking your negative emotions for what they teach you. These can be wonderfully healing affirmations, and they can help those emotions lessen. I like to say something like “thank you, anger, for teaching me that I need more support. Thank you, impatience, for showing me that I’m not being patient with myself.” But you should make affirmations that make sense to you, in your own words.
“Gratitude opens the door to […] the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe. You open the door through gratitude.” -Deepak Chopra
Don’t abandon yourself when you experience negative emotions. This practice can be truly transformative for your emotions and inner world. Instead, use gratitude to create magic in your own life.