Once Grateful, Now Trapped?

  • “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

I’ve had a growing awareness lately of the people around me who have so much in their lives to be grateful for, but everything “needs an upgrade”.

That’s fine if your car is 25 years old and it’s due for a new transmission, or your roof leaks and it’s time for a new one… but what I’m noticing is something different.

As a leader of Men’s Recovery Groups for nearly a decade, it is pretty obvious that people are unhappy, discontented, “dis-eased” with either some part of their external world, or something within themselves isn’t right (blame & shame) so they try and medicate the disappointment away instead of dealing with the problems.

But beyond even that, I’m seeing mostly successful people with good jobs, loving wives, healthy children, some material comfort, may even be serving at church or in their community… by all accounts, they should be happy.


Yet, for some reason the things they longed for become not enough… they lose gratitude and start feeling a lack. If only my wife was x, if only my children x, if only my job, car, friends, house… blah, blah blah.

I don’t know whether it is the non-stop bombardment of an commercialized society that needs people dissatisfied with their lives to keep working unfulfilling jobs so they can pump money into the economy to keep the merry-go-round spinning, or some form of natural human instinct that is always bent on “the next thing”, but I do know one thing for sure…

When Gratitude Begins to Fade the Prison Walls Begin to Erect

We take on a different vision of the people, places and things around us. The job that we prayed for, maybe spent months trying to get, and brought such incredible elation when we finally go it… is now a burdensome trap and is sucking the life out of us.

That wonderful wife that we completely transformed ourselves into Prince Charming for and courted for months or even years who finally said yes and made us the happiest man on the planet, is now that nagging bitch that spends all our money.

Or our beautiful kids who we would die for have become rebellious whiny brats, our awesome new car is now a piece-of-sh*t, our wonderful new apartment is now a hell-hole we’ve got to escape from. (Feel free to reflect on your own heart at this point).

This is what I call the Zombie Apocalypse.

We are each living in an existence that is the direct result of every choice we ourselves have made, and we will only have the direct result of what we believe we can have or deserve in the future.

Believing anyone else is responsible for our place in life or our emotions, good or bad, is complete bass-ackwards!

If we ever wonder “how did I get here” and begin to resent the very things we pursued, achieved and obtained, then we become disconnected from gratitude which disconnects us from feeling joy, contentment, peace, happiness, fulfillment.

Those feelings are never something we can pursue, they are current states of mind that we choose, every minute, of every day.

A good example of this, a friend called recently because his wife was “really” upset that the “automated” cat box was broken and the box was a mess and the cat just kicked old litter all over then took a leak in the living room”. His heart was burdened because she called him venting AT him. That word AT is the key.

He was feeling responsible for “her” feelings. Instead of just being able to take ownership of his chore that he neglected and apologize, he was carrying the shame and burden of his wife’s anger, disappointment, judgment and condemnation.

But how did this typical marriage discord begin. A piece of mechanics broke, and an animal didn’t want to pee in a dirty box.

I shared with my friend that his wife could have looked at the situation, and actually laughed. “What a freaking mess, how disgusting, here goes 15 minutes of my life I’ll never get back”. Then clean it up, or leave it for her husband, and simply comment “how bad did that suck” with a light heart.

But instead, as I understand it the conversation never came up again, he’s walking around with shame and she’s burying blame and resentment… and the once grateful marriage adds another prison bar.

We are NEVER responsible for the emotional state of another person. And we have the freedom to choose to own it, try fixing it, or simply help the other person re-frame it.

She had the choice to tell him “about” the situation, but instead she chose to throw it “at” him. He then had a choice to let the ball roll past him, but instead he picked it up and swallowed it, storing it in his ever-disheartening soul and begins daydreaming about “better days when life isn’t so hard”.

We have to check ourselves, if we can’t be grateful for EVERYTHING in our life, even the acceptance of uncontrollable and messy things in our life, then we simply need to get busy changing it.

We are not victims, we are not imprisoned to the situation, we are not stuck, we are simply in a reality we created and we have the same power and freedom to change it again, period.

Does that mean it will be easy, no. Does it mean it’s not our responsibility to change it, no. It is absolutely on us to adjust our own beliefs, feelings and behaviors and accept the people, places and things around us as they are, and be grateful in the process. Until we do, we will always “feel” stuck in the very prison we constructed in our own mind.

May your self constructed walls disappear with the renewal of your mind sooner rather than later.


If you would like to explore how to break free from the limiting beliefs and negative thought patterns holding you back from your best self, and discover your core strengths and begin dreaming into reality your best life, then please don’t hesitate to book a free consultation.