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Episode 76: 4 Words That Cut Deep

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You know those times when you’re having a rough day and you feel downhearted and then there’s this little nagging voice that tells you, “you shouldn’t be sad. You should be grateful!” And then all of the sudden you feel great!? Yeah, me neither because that never happens. We hear that little voice and it puts us even deeper in pain only now you’ve added shame to the mix. In this episode, I share why telling yourself to be grateful isn’t a cure-all and why it hurts more than it helps. I also share what does help and what gets you to gratitude even faster. 

Welcome back to the show! So grateful for each one of you. So listen, exciting news because the new podcast is out. It just came out on iTunes, The Midsingles Meetup so if you know any midsingles that would benefit from this work go have them check out the podcast. It’s so fun and already I have several podcasts lined up for them. Don’t worry, it’s not going to take away from what we’ve established here but that podcast was requested for a really long time and I’m just so happy it’s alive and in the world. So Midsingles – you’ve got your own podcast. So fun! Don’t forget, it is on a trial basis – if there’s enough of a response, good ratings and reviews then we’ll keep forging ahead so head on over, check it out and if you like it please leave a rating and a review so it can continue making its way in the world. And I have to say, I’m kind of in love with the intro and outro music. It’s just so happy. It makes me think of a super cute French Bistro and just all happiness. So check it out.

Okay, speaking of ratings and reviews…If you haven’t yet, please take a moment and rate and review this podcast. It means so much to me and I love reading them. Let’s dive into today’s community spotlight! These are so fun. I love them and I love each of you that’s left one! Thank you!

Today’s spotlight comes from JoanieFife. She writes: Highly recommend!

“I have been binge listening to Hannah Coles’ podcast every morning for two months and I feel like this has been such a blessing in so many ways. Hannah’s way of explaining things is very relatable, extremely smart, and well documented (I secretly wish she could come out with a document with all the quotes she uses so that I can memorize them.) It really has made a huge impact on me, on my marriage, and on my kids. I would recommend to anyone even non-LDS women.”

Joanie, ah, I love you, darling girl!!! Joanie, you’re just amazing and thank you, thank you, thank you! Big air hug right now!!! I love that she mentioned the quotes – I’ve thought the same thing. I’m a big quote person, I’ve always been and each year I tell myself, I should put these all in one place so I can find them easily and I never do – I tried on Pinterest – go find me on Pinterest there are quotes there but I put them in categories and can never find them when I’m looking for them. I need someone brilliant to help me organize them all because that sounds amazing.

One of my clients just this last week we were laughing and saying I need to invest in some Hannah merch! Some awesome T-shirts and hoodies with Hannahisms on them. For sure one would be, “Confidence is synonymous with Certainty”, “preparation precedes power”, “Love all the humans”, “Make it math” – what other ones do you love? There are so many that I’d love to sport around town. It’s fun to think about.

Again, thank you for that beautiful review! I want to dive into our topic today and it’s something that comes up all the time with my clients and I get it 100% because that was me for years as well. 

There are 4 little words that cut so deep and leave you feeling intense shame and guilt.

It’s tricky because this phrase sounds like it’s noble and like a good thing but I’m telling you, it’s anything but. 

These words are:  “YOU SHOULD BE GRATEFUL”

Have you told yourself that lately? 

When we’re having an “off day” or feeling “lowly of heart” these words can creep in there and make you feel like what you’re experiencing isn’t okay because…well, you should be grateful.

And then your brain is quick to jump on the bandwagon and lists off all the ways you should be grateful, all the blessings you have, your home, your health, clean water, etc and within a matter of seconds, you’re plummeted down even farther on the downtrodden path. Only now you’re not just feeling lowly of heart you’re feeling guilty for not thinking about your blessings and ashamed because you make it mean that you’re not grateful.

Here’s the thing with this, it NEVER makes you feel better. It’s NOT productive – like all of the sudden everything is fixed. I should be grateful? Okay, done! No, it’s doesn’t work like that. It just adds insult to injury because the initial pain is still there. That pain is real and valid and it needs to be addressed, to be tended to, not ignored because you have a roof over your head.

Let me illustrate this an easier way. When I moved about 3 years ago I discovered this new species of vegetation and not in a good way. It was the first time I laid eyes on or let me be more accurate – my heel on this weed. It’s called a goat head or goat horn it goes by both because it resembles a goat head with this horrible spinny, super thick, and sharp points coming out of it. Google it, it’s this terrible, like why does it exist weed.

I had never lived in an area that had those before and my property and the area around us is full of them. They’re so sharp they go through your shoes – through your bike tires and if you’re walking around with your soft feet ouch.

So I accidentally encountered one of these goat heads and it just punctured my heel and make this small but deep pinprick of a wound. 

That stupid pinprick hurt for weeks afterward. I kept thinking, is it infected? Is there still a sliver stuck in there? No…it was just deep and it throbbed and while I could function and go on with my day it still hurt.

So when I think of those 4 little words, “you should be grateful” I think of my goat heads.

Just because 99% of your body is functioning and well it doesn’t mean that the teeny pinprick would on your heel doesn’t hurt and throb. 

Telling yourself, “your body is healthy! You shouldn’t be in pain!” Doesn’t make it go away. 

Just because MOST of your body IS in good health doesn’t take away the message your body is sending that the 1% needs extra love.

I know each of you know to a degree or some form what I’m talking about. You’ve gotten a paper cut or worse, a cardboard, right? When you’re opening a box and ouch! And it genuinely hurts. It doesn’t mean that you’re not grateful that the rest of your body is healthy. It just means something hurts and it’s okay.

It’s the same with feeling lowly of heart. It doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful. It means you’re human having a human experience.

You can feel lowly of heart AND grateful.

You can be healthy and be hurting because of a cut.

Counting your blessing absolutely CAN help. I’m a huge advocate of getting to abundance. It IS wonderful that 99% of my body is healthy and I’m so grateful for that. But this cut, this pinprick reeeeeeally hurts right now and that’s okay. 

It’s okay because it’s not going to be forever. I might last longer than you expected. Just like I was still surprised that after a week it was still sore and sensitive but that was just a call to check in again, to clean it out. 

And for now? It’s okay to hurt, to cry. It doesn’t mean you’re neglecting your blessings or that as an absolute that you’re ungrateful – like you’re either grateful or you’re not. 

Pain is your body’s indicator that something needs extra attention, extra love, extra compassion.

Just because the majority is fine doesn’t mean that 1% isn’t important or that it doesn’t matter.

If you remember in the New Testament the Savior tells this parable of the sheep. In it He leaves the 99 sheep – the 99 that were well and accounted for to go and seek after the one because of the one. When He left it didn’t make Him ungrateful for the flock that was all there and where He wanted them to be. It made Him seek after the one that needed help, that needed direction, that needed extra time. 

When we do this, when we allow ourselves to be human to not ignore what’s creating emotional pain for us but to look inward and see what’s going on. It teaches us that we matter, that you are special, essential. It teaches you that when you’re in pain you can count on yourself to give yourself much-needed love.

Sometimes you need to give yourself permission to be human. I can absolutely tell you that with so many of my clients – dare I say just about everyone we suppress our emotions. We hold back our tears. We smile through the pain. We ignore or try to numb out our feelings because of what we make those feelings mean.

That we’re weak. That we’re not strong enough. That we’re ungrateful. That we’re not good enough, happy enough, perfect enough. We don’t give ourselves permission to feel or to be real and authentic.

Part of mortality is that things hurt sometimes – let me rephrase that, part of mortality is that we make things mean hurtful things sometimes and it creates a lot of pain and strife for us.

There’s a line in Harry Potter that I just love – where are my Potter fans???

Harry asks if it’s all just made up and in his head – meaning it’s not really real and Dumbledore says, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

Just because other people don’t or can’t understand why it’s hurting you. Just because it doesn’t make sense to them. Just because they minimize it and say, “It’s all in your head” doesn’t make it any less real or painful.

That pain is valid and it won’t go away ignoring it. It’s not going to heal itself by shaming yourself because you’re not outwardly being grateful.

No one in the midst of pain – like accidentally cutting themselves or stubbing their toe or worse – in that moment is thinking about what they’re grateful for. They’re not. They’re thinking, “oh man this hurts! ouch!!!” 

It’s the same with you only it’s an inward hurt and it’s okay to turn your focus on tending to the pain. Take the time to look inward, to see what’s going on, to offer yourself love and compassion, and pretty soon that 1% will be better too.

Give yourself permission to feel what you need to feel, to focus on what’s hurting and how you can help it.

I remember this one occasion I was feeling so disheartened. I had worked so hard for this opportunity and it just wasn’t coming and then I got an email from a friend that they had gotten it. And in that moment I went from being joyful and content to “what the heck am I doing with my life? Why not me? What’s wrong with me?” You know? All the things? 

It was just an email but I made it mean all kinds of ugly in that moment and my mind was just spinning and spinning with all the thoughts and I made a comment to my husband who was confused at first like, “What? Where is this coming from?” And then to “Don’t you think the adversary wants you to feel like this? We’re about to go to sacrament meeting”

Which I interpreted to mean, “you shouldn’t feel like crap. You should be grateful and holy and thinking of the Divine because it’s Sunday” – like “oh, I didn’t realize! You’re right!”

I was so hurt and so frustrated by that response – and in all honesty – it was frustrating because of what I made his response mean about me, right? Gotta take ownership of all it. His intentions might have been all pure and lovely but that’s not what I heard or what I made it mean. In that moment, I stepped on a goat head of envy and it stung and cut deep.

I needed to look inward. I needed to figure out why that stung so bad and the last thing I needed was to add insult to injury. 

In one of my recent mental health trainings Dr. Paul Quinnett, PhD A clinical psychologist and trainer said, “Passing judgment stops conversation”

The conversation is what oftentimes is exactly what you need. You need to have the conversation with yourself even to get the words out, to know what’s going on and why you’re in pain, and when others or YOU pass judgment like, “You shouldn’t feel that way” or “You should be grateful” all conversation stops.

There’s no headway anymore. There’s no path to healing. It starts the shame cycle and shame likes to hide. Shame keeps you quiet. Shame keeps you from praying. Shame keeps you from really living your life because shame hides. It’s the feeling not that you did something wrong but that you ARE wrong – not worthy, not acceptable, not enough and it creates this hopeless state and feeling.

You need to have the conversation. You need to tell yourself where it hurts and why. You need to keep the dialogue open and going until you can figure out what really is happening. This conversation doesn’t mean indulge in the pain because we know this by now. What you seek is what you find. 

It’s like when you’re sick, say you have the flu you can make that flu 10x worse when you indulge in it. When you tell yourself this is the worst. Or I feel so awful. Verses just allowing yourself to be sick. There’s pain and then there’s added pain. 

When I say hold the conversation, I mean to be curious and open, asking open questions and not dead-end questions. 

Questions like, “What are you making that mean about you?”

“Is it true?”, “Do you have evidence to prove the contrary true?”

Instead of, “Why are you such a loser?” Don’t ever ask yourself that – you won’t like the answer I promise. It’s not helpful by any means.

The more you’re curious and open with yourself the source of the pain will surface and from there you can treat it. You can offer love and compassion and most of all understanding. 

Those are the first two steps in the confidence model. Know, Embrace, and lastly trust – trust that you can feel how you want to feel.

I had to sit down and do this with myself even. I remember asking myself what did I want? And I obviously really wanted that position. I was hoping for it, working so hard to get it and then asking myself if I had that, how do I think I’d feel? That was the healing balm. That feeling was what I needed and what I wasn’t giving myself. In fact, I was doing just the opposite and diving into critical, self-loathing thoughts that just created even more pain.

Stay curious, offer compassion, and love will follow.

So I just want to say a quick word on gratitude because it does help. It can absolutely help. I don’t want to set it aside and focus only on the pain because gratitude is a healing virtue as well.

There’s a song I love by Rosemary Clooney or Berlin sings it too called, “Count your blessings instead of sheep” and I have to give a huge shoutout to Angela Brower who, you guys, go check her out she’s just the most incredible human being inside and out. Your world will be all the better with her bright light in it. So she put out this song a couple of years ago – a cover of this song and it’s easily one of my absolute favorites. I’m pretty sure I need it on my everyday playlist! Make sure you find it and listen to it because it’s soothing to the soul.

So the lyrics are: “When I’m worried and I can’t sleep I count my blessings instead of sheep and I fall asleep counting my blessings. When my bankroll is getting small I think of when I had none at all. And I fall asleep counting my blessings.” It’s this lovely song and it’s true. Focusing on what we have and what we want helps us to create abundance. 

I love counting my blessings. I write down several on a daily basis and I love it. It adds so much to my life and it’s easier for me to bounce back and heal after I’ve encountered or inflicted some emotional pain. 

But it’s still okay to feel the pain, to acknowledge the pain, to sit with it long enough to understand why the pain is even there. You should be grateful isn’t helpful in moments like that.

You should be where you’re at and then from there, you can ask yourself where you want to go and what you want to feel.

Most of time we do want to get to grateful. After that first goat head experience, I was so grateful for shoes, for a healing body, for bandaids and medicine and decades of my life without them. I love counting my blessings but I never use it as ammunition against me. 

Curiosity and compassion are what you need and you don’t need others to give it to you. You’re fully equipped to do so yourself.

Be kind, compassionate, and extra gentle with yourself. Give yourself permission to be human and to experience this mortal life. The pain doesn’t last forever. Just because you spend a little time focusing on the 1% and healing it doesn’t mean you’re not grateful for the other 99%.

Be where you’re at and make an intentional decision about where you want to go. Gratitude is a beautiful feeling and so uplifting and it’s an option if you want it and when you’re ready for it. In the meantime, don’t should on yourself or anyone else. 

Okay you guys, have a great week! Talk to you next time!

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