In another blog post I wrote about the need for acceptance to fully understand and express our gratitude. In that post I talked about gratitude with regard to ‘positively-valenced situations in our lives.
But what about gratitude over ‘negatively-valenced’ or ‘unwanted’ situations.
Certainly this is next level thinking with regard to gratitude. And what I mean is that given an unwanted life situation, we are able to transcend the facts that are unwanted and realize there is most likely something gained from the experience that, if understood and applied, can benefit us. Perhaps it’s just a learning of something.
This may be understood psychologically as just ‘reframing’ the situation, but I’m thinking of it as something more. Something not just about the situation itself, but what the situation means and can offer going forward. Perhaps, as in the Buddhist tradition, a discrete increase in understanding the concept of distancing of self from facts-of-the-world.
My point is that IF you are one of those people able to see the silver lining in the storm cloud (negative valence), acceptance plays a part – perhaps a more substantial part than with those positively-valence gratitude situations. For the latter, the feeling of relief can be very powerful and may overwhelm the separate aspect of acceptance. Of course, we accept something that has a positive valence, it’s not really in question.
With gratitude for something gained from an unwanted situation, the acceptance part smacks us in the face in a different way.
We must accept the fact that something unwanted has happened – opening the way to acceptance of the newly acquired knowledge, insight, etc. This then provides the opportunity to be grateful. Grateful for the acquired benefit, but also in a weird way grateful for the unwanted situation. We have to accept the negative-valence, which so often is easily turned away.
The separation of self from facts might also be more impactful given negative-valence situations.
Again it seems there may be an overshadowing of this separation for positive valance situations given the pleasure of the positive valence emotion. But, through the common-denominator of gratitude, this separation can be more substantial with negative-valence situations. It takes more effort due to the displeasurable emotion to get to a point of gratitude. This effort con result in a more pronounced belief of self and facts-of-the-world separation. And here we may even slip and slide past the negative valanced emotion due to the pleasurable positive valence emotion of relief (should there be such a resulting emotion).
So in a goofy irony, engage in the positively-valence emotion of anticipation for the negatively-valenced situations that can bring forth gratitude.