Gratitude Can Become a Trap

We had a friend over last weekend for sketching, snacks, and mead, and over the course of the evening, the sentence “Gratitude can be a trap” came out of my mouth as I was discussing my life after having my daughter and leading up to losing my job. And I realized the truth of the statement. If you always feel grateful for what you have, even when life turns extremely difficult, the gratitude can easily become an opportunity to not process emotions properly or to allow situations to continue long past the point they should. At least, that’s how it worked for me. I have a wonderfully supportive and hands-on co-parent in my husband and my mom took time off after the baby was born, on top of help from other family and friends. So when I felt overwhelmed in my recovery, I buried those feelings in gratitude and told myself “It can be so much worst, I have no right to complain.” And I believed it. And because my previous employer allowed me to have the baby with me, when the nigh impossible job I had actually became really impossible, rather than complain, I just kept plowing ahead and told myself how lucky I was to get to have the baby with me. It became this kind of feedback loop that helped contribute to tunnel vision that got so severe I couldn’t even tell when I started working myself sick.

I don’t want to downplay the role of gratitude in my life. It’s really important. But it’s a passive virtue, and therein lies the crux of the issue. The passive and the active have to be balanced against each other, rather than allowing either one to dominate your life to an extreme, and I think the action that should accompany gratitude is another ‘g’ – generosity. Generosity of spirit. Generosity of love. Practiced both outward onto the world and inward toward one’s self. Because if you are generous towards yourself, you won’t allow people to drive you to your breaking point. You won’t drive yourself to your breaking point.

What are your thoughts on gratitude? Have you ever felt yourself in a similar situation? Do you find yourself falling more into a passive or active attitude toward life, or are you fairly well balanced?

7 thoughts on “Gratitude Can Become a Trap

  1. Thank you, Kat! You just named for us all what has been for me also one of the deepest emotional patterns in life, what is still so sick for me. Why after I had suffered so profoundly from one individual person just to show any appreciation, I sharply stopped saying even “please” and “thank you” to an entire category of people… then the hard road it was to bring my heart back to producing even a single pence of those two graces, let alone both!

  2. I feel at tha end of tha day everyone has to be a lil bit selfish in tha way of personal gain as in “Im leaving, I have to wake up early” but not too selfish where its like “I know I have more weed at home but I’m still not going to leave u with someone even though I know u don’t have any” #balance

    • I think maybe we need to stop thinking about taking care of our personal needs as “selfish” and relegate that label to personal wants. But the trick is really separating out our needs from our wants, isn’t it?

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