With Thanksgiving coming up, we’re reminded to be grateful and count our blessings. I journal daily, and decided a few days ago that it was a good time to list everything in my life that is good. My joys, my loves, my physical and mental health, a great community, and the support of family and friends top my list. Science has proven that stopping to pause in gratitude is smart and good for our mental health. According to Psychology Today, “…mentally strong people choose to exchange self-pity for gratitude.”
I believe the science and have personally experienced the benefits of pausing to be grateful in the midst of disappointment, sadness and frustration. So what’s with the title of this message?
All of the popular encouragement to remember everything we have to be grateful for, to consider how much we have, and to focus on the positive has a dark side when we feel it’s not okay to acknowledge and process the very real human pain and suffering that plays out in everyday life.
Feel All The Feels First
What got me thinking about this were some recent conversations with friends who’ve been impacted by the fires in California and the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. These days people are so quick to remind us how fortunate we are…“at least you’re all okay.” And, it’s done from a good place of wanting to provide comfort and solace.
But when someone’s home is burned to the ground, or they’ve lost a friend, no matter what the reason, there is real grief to process.
Encouraging them to focus on the positive can convey the message that we don’t want to hear how hard it is. And, in the process we shut down a vital communications channel that can help in the healing.
If you’re feeling like everyone is telling you to keep your head up, I understand. I’ve been there. And I know it’s not always a good thing.
The holidays can be a difficult time for many of us. This is especially true if life isn’t wonderful right now. Maybe you’re not where you want to be professionally. Maybe there’s so much on your plate you don’t have time for you. Maybe you’ve lost someone, as I have, and you get caught in memories and realize that some things just won’t be the same anymore.
I say allow yourself to feel it. “What a Wonderful World,” by Louie Armstrong is a beautiful, positive song with a poignancy that makes it perfect for a good cry. Go ahead and cry. Allow yourself to be sad, angry, whatever.
Then and only then, pause. Acknowledge that life can suck, and remind yourself there is probably something you have to be grateful for. I’m going to share a few things on our Avarah Facebook page– why don’t you head over there and let us know what you’re feeling good about!