The first thing you may notice as you begin to focus on being thankful for everything, is your OWN resistance to doing so.
As we talked about in an earlier blog post, when we start trying to be thankful for everything, we become aware of all the times and places and people and situations that we are NOT thankful for.
So let’s say you keep on going, as I hope you have. I assume you have, because you are still here, reading this.
Bit by bit, you are remembering to be thankful throughout the day. You are noticing more and more things that you feel thankful for. The doom and gloom of life are beginning to look brighter.
Maybe it is not all so terrible. One thankful thought at a time, you are slowly clawing your way out of the Pit of Despair.
First of all, that is just fantastic! Good for you for hanging in there. Your strength and perseverance are to be admired.
I know how hard it is to do that because I’ve been there too. I am right there with you.
And now, there is something else I’ve started to notice.
Now that I am starting to feel happier and cheerier and more genuinely thankful about life, I’m noticing that a lot of people around me seem really annoyed. By me.
I walk into a store where I’ve been shopping for years, with a bright cheery smile: ready to make small talk and spend money. And I am met with a snarl by the person I am trying to give money TO.
Hmm. Maybe I’m being paranoid. Maybe they are having a bad day. Or maybe, as my father (may he rest in peace) would have put it, their shoes are too tight.
So I go somewhere else, and again I smile brightly, and I notice the same thing. People that have known me for years are giving me the cold shoulder. People I’ve always done business with don’t want my money. I ask someone how they are, with love and kindness in my heart, and they turn away from me while mumbling, “FINE!”
Hmm. Once, maybe their shoes were too tight. Twice, maybe there’s a flu going around. Three times, maybe I’m paranoid.
But when this starts happening over and over, I have to sit up and take notice: something’s going on.
Now if it was EVERYONE doing this to me, I’d have to say: maybe it’s me. Maybe I have spinach on my tooth, or toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my shoe. Maybe my deodorant just isn’t working. Or maybe that cute logo on my T-shirt says something nasty in a language that everyone understands but me.
But it’s NOT everyone. Because while SOME people have started reacting to me with coldness and hurt, others have started embracing me with extra warmth and love.
The environment is polarizing around me like a magnetic field, with some people being strongly attracted and others repelled. And the only thing I’ve done differently lately is: practice thankfulness.
So here’s what I am thinking:
The energy of thankfulness must be acting like a magnet.
It’s attracting some people towards me, and pushing others away, even though I myself am acting the same towards everyone as I always have.
I’m noticing something in common among the people who seem to be avoiding me: like many of us, and as has certainly been true for me throughout my life, they all seem to be in some kind of deep emotional pain.
And it seems that something about the energy of thankfulness, that I’ve been focusing on, is drawing that pain out.
That’s the whole point, isn’t it? We are trying to get OUT of the Pit of Despair, which is certainly a dark and painful place. The only way to get OUT of a pit like that is to first be aware we are in it.
I am certainly aware that I am in the Pit of Despair. I am very very very very aware.
I’m no stranger to deep emotional pain.
Lost the one I love? Check. Can’t get a job for the past seven years? Check. Rejected by a large group of people I honored and loved? Check.
And that’s just the recent stuff.
I’m no different than anyone else. Deep emotional pain is part of every life.
It’s my own choice if I choose to deal with that pain, to bring it to the surface so it can be healed. That’s what the practice of thankfulness is all about.
By being thankful for EVERYTHING, even being thankful for our most deeply painful experiences, we bring them out into the light of day so we can receive the gifts and blessings that they hold for us. And then we can let them go.
But some people may not be ready to let their emotional pain go. They may not even be ready to acknowledge it’s THERE.
And then I come along, all thankful and cheery and bright. Can you imagine anything more annoying? I am even annoying MYSELF just talking about it. (Lol).
Let’s use an analogy for a minute. (I love analogies, can you tell?). In this case, our analogy is going to be an MRI machine.
An MRI machine is a useful diagnostic tool. We can use it to find out what’s inside of us, that might need to be removed, or healed. (In this analogy, the MRI machine represents the practice of thankfulness.)
But what if we have some pieces of metal inside of us, or attached to us in some way? (In this analogy, the pieces of metal represent buried emotional pain). Maybe we forgot to remove that belly button jewelry on MRI day. Or maybe there’s an old fracture from skiing in the Olympics, that’s being held together with metal pins. Or maybe a piece of shrapnel from some ancient war, got lodged somewhere and we’re still carrying it around.
Normally, these pieces of metal aren’t bothering us. They may even serve a useful or important purpose. But if you put them near an MRI machine, that powerful magnetic force starts moving those metal pieces around, and the result is pain.
Ok, the analogy is over. You can come out now.
The practice of thankfulness is not exactly the same as going into an MRI machine of course. But the analogy is helpful in understanding why some people may start acting uncomfortable in your presence once you start to really practice thankfulness consistently. Or why they may even avoid you.
Maybe that won’t happen to you. Hopefully it won’t. But it’s been happening to me, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
All I want is to spread rainbows and sunshine and happiness around. But even with rainbows and sunshine, sometimes when you start shining a light on things, the first thing that happens is that light reveals everything that’s been hiding in the shadows: everything that’s wrong.
So how am I going to handle it if people don’t want to be around me and my bright thankful smile?
That’s the hard part, because it does hurt my feelings of course. But I need to learn to not take it personally. It’s not personal. They are in pain, and my bright cheery smile is part of what’s SHOWING them their pain. My bright cheerful smile is a result of my practice of thankfulness, and that’s what is bringing other people’s pain to the surface, also.
The pain—whether my own or anyone else’s– is coming to the surface to be healed. But it has to be felt first, and it’s only natural that people will resent that if it’s not something that they want or choose to do right now.
What I need to do is what I need to do in all cases, about everything: be thankful. Go home and pray about it. Send them blessings and love and light. And most important, don’t take it personally.
So if you start to notice that some people are avoiding you, or acting grouchy, once you start practicing thankfulness, remember to be thankful for that too.
Be thankful for everything.
Maybe your friend, acquaintance, or family member will come around. Just keep being nice to them, while giving them more space, as long as they seem to want it.
And here’s another thing to be thankful for: people’s reactions, whether we experience them as negative or positive, show that the practice of thankfulness is working.
It is having an effect in the world. That can be alarming, especially at first, and especially when the effect seems to be that people are avoiding us. I certainly don’t like that, and I can’t imagine anyone would.
But if I can understand it at a deeper level, I can appreciate these things:
1. I’m actually doing something. I am being thankful, and people can feel that.
2. People will find their own way to deal with whatever is part of their lives. Maybe becoming aware of whatever is bothering them, is a step on THEIR path of moving out of the Pit of Despair.
3. If I just keep going, being thankful for everything, sending love and light, people will either come around, or they will go out of my life.
4. Those who want to be around a thankful vibration will come into my life, and I am thankful for that.
Just as our own personal resistance to thankfulness kicks in when we start trying to change, other people’s resistance to US is also aroused by the changes we are making.
The important thing is not to give up. Keep being thankful, and in time, people may come around.
I’m already seeing evidence of positive results in OTHER people’s lives, as I start to practice thankfulness. I will write about that in the next blog post.
Since you started your practice of thankfulness, have you noticed any changes in how others are reacting to you? Download the worksheet and write down some reflections in your journal.