Plastic gratitude is using feel-good personal development as a way to avoid negative emotions —instantly arriving at a place where the adversity is now a blessing.
And while gratitude is no doubt potent —and done right —can and should bring you to your knees:
Plastic gratitude is avoidance.
Plastic gratitude is distraction.
Plastic gratitude is suppression.
And worst of all —plastic gratitude actually stunts your emotional development and ends up being a form of avoidance.
Let me explain:
You’re going about your day where all of the sudden you encounter an emotional trigger.
This trigger creates anger in you —and makes you uncomfortable.
But instead of “allowing” yourself to feel:
You instantly distract yourself by going to the “feel-good” feeling of gratitude.
The anger you felt gets shoved into your subconscious mind —and is never actually felt, accepted and processed:
Which means it’s now stuck.
Which means it’s now halted.
Which means it’s now supressed.
And while a simple example, all of these emotions can get stuck if they are not fully felt, expressed and released.
(And then they all come out in one blaze of glory when someone cuts you off in traffic or you get trolled on Twitter.)
So, what’s a better way?
Allow yourself to feel.
Feel the trigger —and do not judge yourself for sadness, grief, envy or anger. These are all healthy aspects of the human experience.
Accept and identify.
Part of feeling your emotions is the ability to accept and identify that you’re feeling them without fixing them.
Express, release, act.
The last step is to release your emotion through expression —and then choosing to act in accordance with a deeper level of clarity.
Once you’ve gone through this simple process, you tap into deeper gratitude that can’t be accessed without feeling your emotions.
By the way —the process above —can take 90 seconds or less if you do it right.
To quote Harvard Psychologist Susan David, an expert on emotions:
When we push aside normal emotions to embrace false positivity, we lose our capacity to develop skills to deal with the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.
The reality is:
There is nothing “wrong” with feeling emotionally triggered.
And in a world that preaches self appreciation and trust —nothing is more potent to trust yourself than honoring your emotions and letting them pass through you.
Because while most people think a cocktail and Netflix are a distraction to soothe negative emotions:
Plastic gratitude and “feel-good” personal development can be as much of a distraction too.
Allow yourself to feel —and then tap into the silver lining.
When you do, you honor your emotions while experiencing deep, authentic and invaluable gratitude.
Have you ever used plastic gratitude?