Resentment is the opposite of gratitude.
Boom! Last week we talked about Gratitude. About how gratitude could possibly be the only resolution we need to make, ever.
I believe in gratitude. Gratitude overshadows negativity. Gratitude outshines what isn’t with what is. I believe gratitude’s companion is hope, and hope is infinite.
By practicing a bit of gratitude everyday we have the ability to rewire our brains, allowing us, to stay open to experiencing even more gratitude. That sounds obvious, right? Yet, that isn’t how we live. Let’s look a little deeper at gratitude.
When someone says thank you or I appreciate you or your effort, how does that make you feel? Picture it. Later when you are retelling the story to someone or going over and over the encounter in your head while having alone time in the car, what do you say?
I say, “That made me feel so good when Donna said thank you for helping her with the yard sale”. “Sarah said she loved the coats I dropped off for the shelter. I loved that it made me feel connected.”
It made me feel good. It made me feel connected.
What is the common thread of all gratitude?
Michael and I had children so young. How young were we, you say? We had children so young that our grandson is the age of the children of our friends. The friends who are our age. Right? That is crazy math, friends. Anyway, over the years we have had lots of friends with small children. Each couple just trying to get through the day and keep everyone alive. I remember.
At some point during a social event a child will need their diaper changed or help in the bathroom or help with anything. They are children. Either the husband or the wife will suggest its the other one’s turn because which ever one is speaking is the one who has to do it all the time. The score card comes out. The husband/wife complains he/she is the one who always does laundry or always mows the yard or always goes to the grocery store. Whatever the task may be, they are the one who does it all the time. So many tally marks.
I believe one of two things is going on here. Either someone has picked a real jerk to procreate with OR, and this is the subject of this writing, someone simply doesn’t feel appreciated or valued. And that feeling is turning into resentment. Because the opposite of gratitude is resentment.
How do I know this? One, because I’ve been there and I know what my dirty laundry looks like. And two, said person is listing their accomplishments. They’re actually bitching in the form of a list, but still listing. Please don’t misunderstand me. I believe It is human nature to feel this way occasionally. We are humans. We all have times when we get up in our feelings, and we are disconnected, but sweet Holy Mother don’t stay there. Don’t go getting comfortable and hang your photos on the walls.
Twenty or thirty years ago I thought if Michael would pay more attention to me he would be more thankful for me. Youth truly is wasted on the young, isn’t it? And maybe its true. Maybe he would have, but…
Michael had a life to live too. He had a job. He had responsibilities. Maybe he was dealing with things I hadn’t paid attention to. Gah, see how that comes back around?
It was unfair to expect Michael to know and act on things he had never been told about. I was such a BRAT! I would get mad and pout. I know. I hear the words. I’m not bragging. I’m speaking truth. I cringe when I think of the “brat” years.
I would be all, “I’m fine!” When everybody knows that means so much the opposite.
The whole time Michael had to be thinking, “here she goes again”. I would rant. He wouldn’t say anything. He would let me go on and on and get it out and I would feel better. Because, you know there is a satisfying release that accompanies a good rant. Its a precious exhale. I would finish, Michael would apologize and we would move on…until. A never ending cycle. (except, spoiler alert, it did end! Keep reading)
Thinking back it almost makes me sad to remember the struggle it takes to grow. And then it makes me thankful for the effort and the hard work that went into that growth. Each phase of our life presents obstacles we have to conquer. And not only do we have to conquer them, but we have to do so while dealing with…life.
Cause here’s the deal, sister, brother, you never arrive. You never get there. This isn’t a destination adventure. This whole thing is a journey with levels of difficulty and growth and beauty and tears.
I believe in being your own stick in the gerbil wheel. Be what throws your own ass out of what isn’t healthy. Strive to be you to your fullest. That means always being willing to learn and being willing to make the tweaks necessary to achieve that fullness.
Ok, back to me pouting. When I finally had my aha moment I started doing two things.
Everyday I said out loud, “I choose Michael. He is loyal and loving and a good provider….on and on. You may be thinking, “Wait! I thought we were talking about YOU not being appreciated?” We are. I had to get out of my own way and shift my focus. I wanted him to be thankful for me and what I was bringing to the table. So if the concept of “to have friends, you have to be a friend” is true, shouldn’t I be thankful for what he is doing? For what he is bringing to the table? If I am focused on what I appreciate about him, I don’t have time to lick my wounds. And, I’ll tell ya, it made him sexier too. Seeing and appreciating everything he brought to our lives. Bonus!
The second thing I did was tell him how I was feeling and I told him every time I felt that way, before resentment had a chance to rear its ugly head, we were having a conversation. Here’s the thing, if Michael really loves me and really has my best interest at heart then I have to believe he would not intentionally hurt me or make me suffer. Right?
I didn’t start the conversation by saying, “You never appreciate me. Why don’t you give me all of your attention?” (Its possible I’ve said that) Nothing makes a man run faster than hearing You never and Why don’t you.
“Michael, I have been feeling overwhelmed lately. I know I’m not the only one who does anything around here, but it feels like it. I don’t feel appreciated.” Everything is a season. Remember, nothing lasts forever.
I can promise every time I’ve said that, Michael has held me and said, “I’m sorry. I’ve got blah blah on my mind, or You are right, I wasn’t paying attention and I’m sorry. You do such a great job. What is a project we can do together?”
He has my best interest. We are teammates working towards the same goal. Resentment is the opposite of gratitude. I know I said that earlier, but its true, and resentment has no place in my life.
We all want to be appreciated. Appreciation equals connectedness. Connectedness equals being seen, being heard. Valued.
If you are struggling today with feeling not appreciated or not valued I challenge you to find something in your life to be thankful for. Actively and verbally show your gratitude. Commit to your gratitude. Be sincere with your gratitude. Communicate how you feel. Navigating relationships and maintaining gratitude can leave us feeling vulnerable at times. That’s great. Lean into it. That’s where the growth happens.
Be brave. Be full of gratitude.