Why Gratitude Journaling Doesn't Always Work

I attended a choir camp in high school and one of the leaders mentioned that he could make any statement into a positive. Naturally I challenged him with a few phrases and he would convert the sentence into a subtle but it could be worse response. The reason this strategy, similar to finding something to be grateful for in a difficult situation alone didn’t resonate with me is that the energy of the problem is shifted to something else. If I’m having lunch at work and my apple is rotten, being thankful that I have a job doesn’t change the fact that my apple is rotten.

Similarly, when we go through troubling situations, friends, strangers and family can often times tell us things that, unintentionally create more hurt than help. Unknowingly, we could tell ourselves the same things when we replace working through our problems with blind gratitude journaling. To name a few: “the world is so overcrowded, thankfully you don't have to worry about raising them in this climate; you're lucky you only have breast cancer, my friend had three types of cancer; you should just be glad you received that sum as part of your divorce, regardless of how it happened; be grateful because she could have grown up to be a criminal so young death sometimes happens for a reason (true statement that I’ve personally heard at a funeral)”. In all of these examples, none of the gratitude journaling or could be worse strategies takes away from the fact that you are facing infertility, have cancer, was treated unfairly in divorce proceedings or have lost someone close to you.

So instead of just simply saying that things could be worse or that I’m thankful for something, stay with the emotion and explore the trigger. Be grateful for the emotions, grateful for the lesson that you will learn from this experience. Only then can we shift the energy to a positive state and make a core change.

In our Journaling Through Breast Cancer, we have a section on defining ourselves. I AM NOT BREAST CANCER, I HAVE BREAST CANCER. In this powerful statement we shift the energy. We are not our problems, we find the gifts that they bring. We are not defined by the expectations of others or constraints or seemingly insurmountable challenges. We are certainly not thankful for the cancer, however we are thankful for the lessons, changes and introspection. We are allowed to choose how we define ourselves in a way that makes our souls, bodies and minds happy. We can speak our truth.

This all sounds wonderful, but HOW do we define ourselves differently to shift the energy?


I feel  _____________________________ today and that is okay.

Journal to become more in tune with yourself by writing the following statement -

All emotions are valuable and valid. I feel like this today because:

Someone said this to me: ___________________________

This happened: ______________________________

Journal to shift the energy:

I acknowledge that whatever was said to me is their point of view, not mine. Whatever happened to me was not my choice, however I do have control over the lesson that I learn from this event. In forgiveness I exchange the negative energy for a positive one.

I chose to shift my energy back to myself with the following mantra:

I define myself as: _________________________________

I can feel the energy shifting into a higher, more positive state.


We have permission to not like the rotten apple in our lunch. We also have permission to replace this rotten apple with an orange today because we care about our bodies and we like fruit. When we choose to embrace our inner wisdom and listen to the messages of our emotions, we awake our internal healing skills.

Gratitude journaling is however a great way to become mindful of our everyday abundances and create a positive mindset. Any journaling that helps us to improve our attitudes and provide growth is worth it. When we are looking for something more, a journal that is guided and expertly written to help us through our rough times, combined with daily gratitude journaling can lead to a healthy, holistically balanced life.

What challenges present themselves to you today?

Which journal will help you through this time?

Journal to shift the energy into a positive core-changing life statement.

Keep Journaling and Keep Growing!

#journaling #cancer #infertility #gratitudejournaling #guidedjournaling #inspiration #divorce #loss #grief #emotionaleating #selflove #selfcare #holistic #healing #wellness


Recent Posts

See All