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Can gratitude ever be unhelpful?

There can be a lot of emphasis on gratitude and being grateful during current times. However, can gratitude ever be unhelpful?

When we are upset, we may say to ourselves “Things could be worse”, or “I should be grateful that at least I have a job/house/good health”. Perhaps others around you might respond similarly with “But you have so much to be happy for” or “You should be more positive”. We can be quick to push down our emotions for many reasons; not knowing how to validate ourselves, depending how others respond to us, experience guilt/shame for feeling such a way when other things in life are going good for us etc.

Before being grateful, it is ok and essential to acknowledge that things can be challenging too. It is important to honour our emotions by acknowledging them, allow ourselves to feel them, give space to them and navigate through them. When we focus on suppressing and avoiding such feelings, we often invalidate and minimise our experience. This is rarely helpful and may even create more suffering for us.

Practising gratitude can enhance our wellbeing, relationships and develop our awareness. However, like there is a time to be grateful, there is also a time to acknowledge that things can be tough too.

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