The shame of the should-be attitude of gratitude and it’s dangers – an extension of toxic positivity 

I am coming across a collective of clients in my practice who are are feeling:

Blessed by their lives but also not happy


Have negative feelings or uncomfortable sensations within themselves yet disregard them and tell themselves “look around, you should be grateful for what you have”.


Practice the art of being grateful and feel they should be “getting more things to be grateful for” but instead challenging things are happening in their lives. 


I am writing this article today in hope for people to gain a  higher understanding about feelings, gratitude and the misconceptions of positivity. 


First of all remember  feelings are feedback.


 Feelings need honouring and attention. To smother them with “you should be grateful”, “what do you have to whinge about” or “just be positive” is turning your back on, dishonouring a part of yourself and neglecting yourself.

Not facing and honouring your feelings Can exacerbate them, have you reacting to situations in ways you consciously wouldn’t choose to, adopting a feel good behaviour or addiction (to wine, chocolate, binging, etc) to counteract the grip of these feelings and feeling more disconnected or unhappy with your life (even though you have every reason you “should be” grateful).

For example, You focus on all the wonderful things your husband or partner does but still have a background brooding resentment towards them and can’t understand why. You brush it off and keep focusing on the positive but the opposite feeling keeps surfacing and in times of heated discussion you explode.

I once had a client when after a few wines would tell her husband what she REALLY thought  about some of the things he was doing.

She’d then wake up in the morning feeling guilty and down on herself for being so negative towards him, because he “was a nice guy”.

In our consultation we dove into the fact that there was an underlying residual hurt left over from feeling let down, or betrayed by her own father as a teenager. These unconscious feelings were then projected on to her husband and caused her to be stuck in a cycle of beating herself up for “not being nicer or grateful” to him and shaming herself.

Of course, like any relationship her husband was doing things that were actually annoying her and crossing boundaries but  she didn’t want to appear “negative” or “create conflict”, so she never said anything at the time , until her guard or filter  was down after a few wines. 

This is one of the dangers of ignoring or brushing away your feelings and negating them with “you should be grateful look at all the things you have in life”. 

In this example if she continued to do this without exploring them, perhaps more resentment would’ve built up between her and her husband, she would’ve then vented continually in an unhealthy way and also not balanced  the past trauma she had with her father.


Another example is a client: we’ll call her Lauren. She was in a career that she excelled in, earning great income but she was becoming more and more unhappy. 

She looked at all she was doing within the context of her job, the money and kept telling herself “just be grateful”. 

The thing is being grateful doesn’t mean you have to continue to stay in a career, job or relationship that doesn’t feel like a good fit anymore. 

Being grateful is more about honouring what is, your feelings and and understanding everything serves.

Feeling YOU SHOULD be grateful and not feeling that way creates shame, confusion and procrastination. It can lower self worth and vitality.

With Lauren in our consultation, we went on to see how everything up until now, what she did in her job, the skills she developed and the money she earned was a way for her to develop the foundation of the business she’d been dreaming about in her mind. In a moment of gratitude, she then decided to leave her job and start working on her dream business.

NOW, she’s moved into true gratitude. She felt light, free and centred, an indication of true gratitude not shaming gratitude.

Before; she felt like leaving her job would be an act of ingratitude because of all that it has provided for her. This was until the realisation the it would be worse to stay, not just for her but also her boss and her colleagues because she would eventually start to resent them (even though they’ve done nothing wrong).

Gratitude is truth, gratitude is love, gratitude is feeling, gratitude is seeing both sides not just one (positive or negative)



YES, there are times I’ve said to myself, “Larissa, maybe you could practice gratitude right now” and YES is did serve me, but the important thing is not to shame yourself into gratitude by ignoring your true feelings.


Feelings are feedback, feelings are your compass, feelings are showing you that maybe your perception isn’t balanced.


Really Balancing your perception and moving into gratitude sets you free to choose, sets you free from the past and sets you free to make decisions that are right for you.


It’s not making excuses for someone else’s bad behaviour, it’s not a scape goat from your true feelings, it’s not going to serve you or anyone else if you use “you should be grateful” to stay stuck where you are.


Next time you hear yourself  saying “you should be grateful”, honour the feeling before these words came into your mind and explore or balance that. If it’s something you’re stuck with, know that there are many trained professionals like myself that can assist you in your journey to create fulfilment in your life.

From my heart to yours

Larissa xx