08/27/2014 01:00 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Gratitude Trap

For 10 years I was living the mini-van dream! I mean it. Nothing made me happier than looking back at my three amazing kids while driving. Having three kids in eighteen months meant I wanted to go with what made life easy for all of us. That meant driving a mini-van.

Once the kids started getting older, the ease of the mini-van wasn't as much as a necessity. That's when I started to get inner rumblings of desiring a new car. Then there was a tirade of thoughts such as "This car still works great. It has served us so well. There is nothing wrong with it. I'll just stick it out until it dies."

Any thoughts of getting a new car were easily set aside because the truth was I felt (and feel) extremely grateful. Having a new car really isn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Plus, it was easy to rationalize reasons not to get a new car, so we didn't.

Fortunately, the inner rumblings came back and this time my emotions would not allow me to set aside my desires any longer. This actually started in the winter. As grateful as I felt for being able to take a vacation every year staying with my folks in Florida, what I was really yearning was international travel! My rational mind told me all the reasons why my desire could not happen: money, priorities, business, time, kids, etc.
Making matters worse was my inner critic telling me that having desires for international travel meant I wasn't grateful for what I had.

Through working with the empowered gift of our negative feelings, I was able to see that I had unknowing fell into the gratitude trap. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely believe that gratitude is the way to go.

However, I used to feel you can never be too grateful. I was wrong.

Here's how your inner critic can take the beautiful feeling of gratitude and turn it on you.

What your inner critic knows how to do very well is make you wrong for being you. Your inner critic knows the best way to tarnish your dreams. One of the simplest ways your ego does this is by turning your dreams into selfish, materialistic, and unnecessary desires.

The result of your inner critic shaming you for your desires is that your dreams remain dreams. Now isn't that a great way for your inner critic to keep you safe? Your inner critic certainly thinks so.

This has been a year where my eyes have opened to the gratitude trap of my inner critic. Instead of listening to that very old story that shamed my desires, I have chosen to allow myself to receive my desires. After all, according to the online etymology dictionary, desire's root meaning was "await what the stars will bring."

What I have recognized is our desires are a part of the celestial plan, so to speak. Because if we will allow ourselves to receive the gifts being offered to us through our dreams, we allow ourselves to feel the expansion of the stars rather than unconscious restriction of the inner critic. Getting out from under the control of the inner critic is what supports women to put an end to The Misery Epidemic (find out more about The Misery Epidemic here).

For me, personally, allowing my desires has meant booking a trip to Thailand using long-saved award miles, as well as buying a new hybrid car big enough to fit my brood! I've got to tell you, receiving these gifts is truly marvelous. And yes, I am extremely grateful (in a healthy way that has nothing to do with my inner critic)!


Do you want to get out from underneath the gratitude trap too?

Here's how:

Practice allowing yourself to experience what brings you pleasure.

The idea is to begin giving yourself what you crave and stepping outside your comfort zone.

Some options could be:


* Sleep-in/Nap
* Daydream
* Paint
* Write/Journal
* Buy a $5 latte rather than a plain coffee
* Have the donut, baguette, or cake if you haven't allowed any of those items touch your lips for some time

What you are doing is finding a middle ground between being overindulgent and being too restrictive. Our fears tell us that if we give in to our desires, we will pay the price (in one form or another,) whether that is with our careers, finances, health or relationships.

Yet, the reality of what often happens is if there isn't room for your desires, you will unconsciously self-sabotage (such as over-spending or excessive eating or drinking), which will make you miserable. Or you'll feel miserable from shaming your desires.

The key is to consciously allow your desires to be experienced. When you do, you will remember how good it feels to receive, as well as give. In fact, the more you receive, the more you'll have to give!