The gratitude trap is extremely dangerous. It can prevent you from rising to a new levels of joy, success and fulfillment. It can keep you stuck in adequacy or mediocrity. In some situations, it can also be lethal.
What is the gratitude trap?
Have you ever stopped yourself from wanting something and thought, “I should just feel lucky for what I have?”
While it’s true that what we appreciate appreciates, and that gratitude is an incredibly powerful state of being, somewhere along way, some of us got the memo that we should just be happy with what we have.
We shouldn’t ask for more.
While it’s so very important to pay attention to all the good in your life, count your blessings and practice gratitude, none of this means that it is bad to ask for more.
Let’s look at how this “just feel lucky for what you have” gratitude trap can play out in your relationship in 2 different scenarios:
Couple #1: Mark and Sue (not the Mark and Sue you know, these two are completely fictitious individuals).
They’re both professionals, healthy, financially sound, have happy kids, do fun things, and on the outside looking in, it looks like they are the picture of success and fulfillment. Their love for one another is undeniable.
They appreciate each other tremendously and feel grateful for the incredible lives they live.
Yet there’s something missing…
They feel like a distance has developed between them that they can’t quite put their finger on.
They seem to be doing everything right according to what many relationship experts and gurus would say: do more than your share and appreciate all you have.
This becomes a slippery slope when you lose sight of something very important:
Your own needs and desires.
These needs and desires can range from a back rub from your partner to something totally unrelated to your partner. No one is responsible for knowing what they are but you.
The gratitude trap tripped Mark and Sue up because they confused gratitude with the end when in reality it is more powerful as the middle or beginning. By thinking, “I am so grateful I should not want anymore” they cut off a connection to themselves and their hearts’ longings that then cut them off from one another.
If you identify with this sort of disconnect or perhaps have inklings about what you’d like in your life or relationship but feel squeamish about bringing this sort of thing up, take this post as a sign that it’s not only okay to have desires for more, new and different in your life, it’s completely healthy.
The strongest and healthiest of relationships grow and evolve together.
Here’s another scenario in which this kind of gratitude trap can be lethal:
Couple #2: Jim and Rose (not the couple you know, these two are also made up)
Jim and Rose enjoyed an intense, infatuated love. Rose has felt that this relationship is “too good to be true,” as it appeared to be everything she was looking for.
Jim loses his temper at times, sometimes to the point of physical aggression.
He does kind and meaningful things for Rose, however, that make her swoon.
In reality, Rose is in a dangerous relationship. Jim is getting more and more violent and controlling though Rose doesn’t quite realize it. She alternates between feeling lucky to be with him and feeling scared.
For awhile, the writing is hard to read on the wall that she is in an abusive relationships, and the gratitude trap is part of what’s keeping her stuck.
Rose’s best bet is to not excuse the bad with the good, and demand better for herself so that she doesn’t slip too far down the slippery slope of intimate partner violence and potentially wind up another sad statistic.
The moral of the story
When it comes to love, money, health, or your sense of happiness, there is always room for growth.
It is always okay to desire more, or something different.
While the best thing you can do is appreciate all that you do have, it is also powerful to allow yourself something even better.
This also means not settling, regardless of how good you think you have it.
Through the power of your desire, collectively, we grow, change and evolve.
Pay attention to it and allow it to manifest for your sake, your relationship’s sake and for the sake of the planet.
Let me know your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.