I’ve now kept my renewed practice of gratitude using my gratitude journal for a week. I am struggling to remember to engage in this new habit each night before I go to bed (and have had to get back up more than once to do it after I’d turned off the light), but I haven’t missed a day yet.
The most obvious thing I’ve noticed as I’ve been making my lists (minimum of five unique things) each night is what a bad case of gratitude even-though-itis I’ve got. What is gratitude even-though-itis? It’s the bad habit of discounting the value of the thing for which I am grateful even as I am expressing my gratitude. It sounds something like “I’m grateful for the beautiful blue sky today, even though it was way too hot outside.”
Did you catch how that “even though” manages to sneak a complain into my gratitude practice? I only write down the actual thing for which I’m grateful (beautiful blue sky today), but the mental “even though” still works to counteract my delight in my blessings.
Naturally, when my observer-self noticed this tactic, I immediately asked myself how it serves me to engage in even-though-itis. The most obvious reason is that it is a way for my ego to avoid change. If I undermine the practice of gratitude, then it won’t cause any long-term changes in my outlook, attitude, or perception of life. Change is always scary, particularly when it is affecting long-held patterns of how I see the world through my stories and beliefs about myself and others. The mind is a very crafty beast to come up with such an insidious way to try to maintain the status quo!
Secondly, I think there’s some degree of self-protection in this. It feels scary to see life too positively because it means that I am more likely to be disappointed. If I keep my eye on the negatives, I won’t get my hopes up, so I’ll be safe … or so the little fear gremlins in my head try to tell me.
But there are too many blessings in this world to spend my time focusing on the things that are sub-optimal in some way. That’s the whole point of this gratitude practice after all! So I keep recording my gratitude lists each night and leaving off the “even though” qualifications, with no more than a wry smile acknowledging my mind’s little game, but my even-though-itis has kept the gratitude practice from feeling like it has made much of an impact on a daily basis.
The beauty of this practice, though, is that now that I’ve gotten to the end of the week and am going back to review my lists, I’m amazed at how many wonderful things happened this week that I would have already forgotten about without this practice: opportunities to spend time with friends (both new and old), two sales in my Etsy store, the beauties of nature (including my first water lily bloom of the season in my pond tonight), various personal accomplishments, wonderful food, the kindness of others (in person and online), and treats of self-care ranging from a massage to naps.
I’ve been so exhausted this week with the schedule change that I had already lost track of how many lovely things I have to be grateful for in just this one week! But reviewing my list brings them all back … without the “even though” qualifications getting in the way. I’ve forgotten almost all of those since I didn’t write them down.
My mind may be tricky, but it appears that I have managed to be even trickier yet to outsmart it on this one. I think that might be another thing to be grateful for.
What about you? Have you ever had even-though-itis? If so, how have you dealt with it?
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