Gratitude versus Appreciation
The concept of gratitude is much in vogue, but it doesn’t sit right with me. I hear clients express how grateful they are for good things that happen to them. In fact, many feel gratitude for practically everything positive that comes their way. The dictionary defines gratitude as, “A kindly feeling because of a favor received, ”and favor as, “A kindness.” Nothing hinky there, but I’m left feeling that the word has come to mean getting something you’re not completely sure you deserve.
Although there’s much to be said for humility, gratitude comes from a different internal place, and I’ve recently found myself suggesting that clients try feeling appreciative instead of grateful. Okay, maybe I’m reading too much into the word. Here’s why: the people who use it most are the same ones who have low self-esteem, struggle to feel worthy, don’t believe they deserve much in life, and suffer a sense of defectiveness and deep shame. Conversely, folks with high self esteem assume good things will come their way and are appreciative of good fortune and proud of what they’ve worked for.
You shouldn’t be grateful when people are kind and treat you well; you should expect it. You shouldn’t experience gratitude when you’re praised, adored, supported, validated, respected, and held in high esteem. You most certainly want to appreciate and value these responses, but gratitude is a bit over the top, as if such responses are a surprise or rare occurrence. The fact is, you deserve to be praised, adored, supported, validated, respected and held in high esteem. Of course, not every minute of every day and certainly not when you’re acting like a horse’s patoot, but most of the time.
Often people express gratitude because they don’t believe they’ve earned or deserve the good things they have—money, success, happiness, good health. They feel ashamed and uncomfortable feeling proud, so they retreat into self-effacement. Understandably, you may not want to come across like an arrogant or entitled snob or slob who expects to get something for nothing. For sure, there’s an important distinction between welcoming and valuing good things and taking them for granted. Yet gushing with gratitude doesn’t do justice to your work and efforts.
If you’ve made strides in your eating, it’s only been through struggle and hard won battles, so be happy, be thrilled, be appreciative, and let yourself bellow with pride. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of and thankful for success; you did the work and earned the feelings. Being grateful gives that all away.