Guest Blogger series: Jennifer DiGenarro edition

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Guest Blogger series - Jennifer DiGennaro Edition

 
 

Quick Note: I love community and connecting others. That is why I’m happy to publish these guest blog posts. I hope this series resonates with you and please know that the opinions expressed are those of the writer and not my own.

Defensive Gratitude

Gratitude is powerful. Letting ourselves see the good in life, and be thankful for it, is incredibly healing! Yet clinging to gratitude can be a way to avoid emotions. When chronically turning to gratitude becomes a way to distance from our feelings, it is not so helpful anymore.

Defenses are the things we do to avoid dealing with our emotions. People do all manner of things to avoid feeling. For example, numbing out by scrolling through social media or over doing it with shopping or eating can be defenses. Of course, staying connected with friends through social media, shopping and eating are not inherently bad ideas (definitely not!), they can take on a life of their own when used to avoid how we feel. The same goes for gratitude.

How might we tell the difference between pure gratitude and defensive gratitude? Start with noticing what is going on in the body.

Real gratitude is felt from the inside and radiates out. There is sense of having enough and being enough. It is not about comparison.

On the other hand, defensive gratitude has a sense of desperation to it. There is often tension in the body and perhaps a fleeting sense of a strong emotion. From here, we swoop in with an often-unconscious story that goes something like this:

“I do not get to have that feeling because I have so much to be grateful for in my life.” That is actually not true and is the essence of defensive gratitude.

So, how do we begin to let go of defensive gratitude and live with more true, open-hearted gratitude? We start by naming it and paying closer attention to all that we have been doing to keep ourselves from feeling our emotions. This is a tender, sacred inquiry as many of the ways we defend against emotions that feel unacceptable, or overwhelming, have been long standing ways we have found to feel safe. Slowly, the new story we aim to inhabit is the truth: “I get to have all of my feelings AND there is much to be grateful for in my life.”

 
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Jennifer DiGennaro MA, LLPC, is a psychotherapist and couples counselor in private practice in Grand Rapids, MI. She is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, Certified Body Trust® Provider, Lead Hungerwise™ Facilitator and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, as well as the founder of Nourished Energy. She specializes in treating chronic dieting, binge eating disorder, body image concerns, trauma, PTSD, mood disorders and relationship issues. She brings a deep passion for social justice to her trauma-informed, evidence-based and heart-centered clinical work. She is committed to ending the war that is waged against bodies in our culture.


 
Images by Personal Branding Maven  Elise Kutt  at  Mod Bettie Portraits

Images by Personal Branding Maven Elise Kutt at Mod Bettie Portraits

My name is Anna VanAgtmael, and I love community and connecting others. That is why I’m happy to publish these guest bloggers. I hope this series resonates with you and please know that the opinions expressed are those of the writer and not my own.

Anna VanAgtmael | Yoga Enthusiast | Travel Designer