Does gratitude practice repress negative feelings?
Recently I wrote a blog about gratitude and how cultivating gratitude improved my experience of living in suburbia.
I’m “grateful” to find my brain defaulting to a more thankful perspective and it’s now become somewhat of a habit.
However, I’m also mindful of how this perspective could be taken too far and used as a justification to repress negative feelings or as an excuse to be lazy.
Bentinho Massaro, a U.S. based self-help/ spiritual teacher says “you get what you tolerate” and if you want to go beyond that you have to be clear about what you prefer.
I find these perspectives a little contradictory at times where on one hand you can practice focusing on what you like in any given circumstance… or on the other hand you can acknowledge what you don’t like and focus on what you’d prefer to be there, on what you might like to change or create.
Can you do both or does one negate the other?
Take for example the above brick wall view similar to an old view where I used to live in Brunswick. I loved the groovy inner city location but the house itself was a very old dark and gloomy terrace with brick wall views. Where I am now is light filled, with park views including century old gum trees.
Each location had it’s pros and cons and eventually I moved out here because the cons outweighed the pros. It took me a long time to make that decision to move though because the idea of moving was overwhelming and there was a lot I liked about the old location. It was easy to just keep focusing on what I liked and justify it.
For a time I successfully repressed the negative feelings I had around certain house problems (e.g. it was poorly maintained and falling apart) and delayed necessary action.
I wonder if there is a way to practice gratitude and ensure you’re not tolerating a bad situation that really needs to change.
Maybe the age old wisdom of the serenity prayer provides some answers. Traditionally this had been addressed to “God”.. but I prefer to say “God force” to encompass the entire universal matrix mystery that we are part of.
Perhaps we can ask ourselves what are we grateful for and to everything else what aspects can I change?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments.