In my last blog post, How to Cultivate Gratitude, we talked about 4 simple steps anyone can implement to cultivate gratitude in their lives. Although committing to certain behaviors can help nurture and grow gratitude, there are also some behaviors that can kill it.
Sometimes without even realizing it, we develop habits that trip us up. Habits, that shrink our heart and prevent growth. Comparing, self-pity, complaining, and entitlement are a few of these limiting behaviors. If you want to kill gratitude, begin with comparing yourself with others, then make sure you feel sorry for yourself, complain about everything, and whatever you do, make sure you feel as though you are entitled to anything you desire.
When we compare ourselves with others, we become preoccupied with who they are and what they have, and forget all about who we are, and what we have. There is a formula for comparing and it goes like this:
- First- look at another person, family or situation and make assumptions based on what we think we see.
- Second- measure ourselves, and our lives against that perception.
- Third- feel inadequate, inferior, incompetent or whatever negative feeling you like.
Comparing sounds like this,
- They have a perfect marriage…We should be able to have a perfect marriage.
- Their kids are so accomplished…Our kids should be that accomplished.
- They have a new car…We should be able to have a new car.
- Her house is perfectly decorated… I should have a perfect house.
- She is always so put together… I should look better, dress better, etc…
Generally speaking, comparing comes with two basic outcomes, and neither one is good. Neither one will open our hearts to gratitude. The first is pride. We might say, “Whew! Well, at least I’m not that bad!” The second is despair. We might become despondent and say, “Woe is me, I’ll never be that good.” Either way, comparing kills gratitude. Comparing ourselves to others kills gratitude because we are so focused on other people, that we miss the blessings, gifts and talents in our own lives.
Self- pity is that deadly self–talk, that comes from comparing ourselves with others. It’s an ugly recording that plays over and over in our heads. It begins with, “poor me”, and ends with whatever we feel we are lacking. Left unchecked, self-pity can grow into a full-blown victim mentality, making us feel like everyone and everything is against us.
- Oh, poor me, my spouse is my problem
- Oh, poor me, my kids are my problem.
- Oh, poor me, what I don’t have, is my problem.
- Oh, poor me, everyone is against me
- Oh, poor me, no one wants me to get ahead.
Whatever form it takes, self- pity prevents us from being grateful because we see everything through a victim filter. We tend to hyper focus, on the negativity we perceive, being directed at us, and we actually begin looking for the negative instead of the positive. If we wallow in self-pity, eventually we lose our ability to see the positive in our lives. Not being able to see the positive, destroys gratitude.
Complaining, is really just verbalizing our self-pity. It’s that “poor me”, negative disposition spilling out of our mouths. The next time you complain, think about where it is coming from. Is it possible that you are feeling sorry for yourself? Like self-pity, complaining prevents us from being grateful, because when we complain, we turn away from the blessings in our lives and hyper focus on the negative. Complaining suffocates gratitude
Entitlement Attitude –
Entitlement is the general attitude of feeling as though we “deserve” whatever it is we want. Entitlement can be a way of justifying things in our lives, and can sound like this, “After all, I work hard and I am a good person, I deserve it”. When we work hard, it’s normal to want to enjoy the fruit of our labor, or treat ourselves for a job well done. However, when entitlement sneaks in, it changes our intention from enjoying and appreciating, to expecting it.
The problem with the “I deserve it” attitude is that it sucks the need for thankfulness out of any blessing, gift or circumstance. If we think we deserve it, it’s no longer a gift or blessing. If it’s not a gift, or blessing then what is there to be thankful for?
Although there are certain behaviors that cultivate an attitude of gratitude, there are also certain behaviors that block and even can kill it. Sometimes, without even realizing it, we develop habits that trip us up. Habits, like comparing, self-pity, complaining, and entitlement, all shrink our heart and prevent growth. If you want gratitude to grow in your heart, root out these destructive habits.