How to Use Gratitude to Improve Your Relationship
In order to make a relationship work, you need to focus on what you appreciate about the other person, and not the things that bother you. According to the Law of Attraction, when you complain too much about your partner, you land up getting more of those things. On the other hand, when you focus on their strengths you will get more of them. It is easier said than done and one of the ways in which to make it happen is a couples journal. This journal can be used by one partner in a relationship but it will be more effective if the work is done as a couple.
The journal will help you focus more on what you appreciate about your partner. Even if you are having problems in your relationship and your complaints are justified you can still turn the relationship around with this relationship journal.
How to Let Go of Resentment
Practicing gratitude can help you address resentment and the pain it causes. As a result, you will replace helplessness, anger, or fear with a sense of happiness and interconnectedness. However, it is easier said than done. How can you be grateful when you feel so resentful?
The book “Untangling You” (2021), by Dr. Kerry Howells, shows how moving from resentment to gratitude will help you improve relationships and lead a happier, healthier life. It is based on research and practical insights and will help you not only improve your relationships but release negative feelings of resentment that are bottled up inside of you.
Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies, Nelson Mandela
Do you have a challenging relationship in your life where you feel resentment? It could be someone who betrayed you or wronged you in some way. The problem with resentment is that it starts infecting other areas of your life and may potentially have a negative impact on them. Dr. Howels had a bad relationship with her mom and she felt very resentful. This bad relationship had a negative impact on other areas of her life including her own parenting. She tried to reframe resentment as gratitude. She wrote a gratitude letter to her mother thanking her for everything she had given her. She sent the letter to her mother and they met and improved their relationship. Her mom passed away six months later and she was so thankful that she had made the effort to turn their relationship around before it was too late. That experience prompted her to research gratitude and resentment. It is very difficult to express gratitude when you feel wronged. However, the act of gratitude can help you release resentment and negative feelings. The book contains actionable steps that will help you improve the challenging relationships in your life.
Shift from resentment to gratitude
The book explains how to make the shift step by step.
- Find out why you want to make the shift. Find a reason that resonates and motivates you to make the often difficult shift. There are many reasons why feeling grateful for someone will help you. For example, research shows that gratitude, more than any other emotion, has the power to amplify the good thoughts and memories, and weaken the bad. The negative feelings you feel are stuck inside you and have a negative effect on your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. The author explains that studies show that gratitude can help combat anxiety, stress, burnout, and depression – and it can result in better sleep, a healthier heart and immune system, and more energy (see the benefits of gratitude). Resentment harms you and not the person who has wronged you. But in order to avoid it, you first need to see your resentment for what it is.
- Identify and understand your resentment. What exactly caused you to feel resentful? Resentment is often a result of expectations that were not met. If you are not sure what caused you to feel resentful then try using the 5 whys to get to the root cause of your resentment.
- Practice acceptance. Think about the relationships in your life and the possibility of not expecting things to turn out exactly the way you want them to. This doesn’t mean you won’t have expectations but you will understand that sometimes things won’t work out the way you wanted them to and there is nothing you can do about it. This isn’t always easy to accept and it requires maturity. You don’t have to accept the person’s behavior. It simply means that, even if your expectations aren’t met, you’re still able to keep in mind all the good in the other person.
- Develop compassion and empathy. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
- Set a tone of gratitude. Concentrate on everything you can possibly be grateful for and let these feelings of gratitude fill you up. This will help you feel centered and calm and it will enable you to decide how you’d like to respond. The author suggests keeping a gratitude journal. Each night before going to sleep, write down all the things you were grateful for that day no matter how small. Please note that this process is nonreciprocal. Don’t expect the other person to express gratitude to you. You need to genuinely express unconditional gratitude no matter how they react or treat you.
The steps above will help you turn around the challenging relationships in your life. Start applying it to one or two relationships until you get a hang of the process. Start with less intense relationships and try to consistently and steadily develop your gratitude toward them. Once you have mastered the process you can move on to emotionally heavy relationships (like an ex who broke your heart – see getting over a breakup).