7 Gratitude mistakes to check if your journal is not working

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Gratitude is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and others. But I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not always easy, even if it’s incredibly rewarding.

In fact, it’s pretty easy to fall into some traps that result in your gratitude journal not working. So to help you avoid them from sabotaging your gratitude journaling. Here are 7 gratitude mistakes you might be making in 2022 and tips on how to avoid them:

1) Forgetting to practice gratitude regularly

Without regular practice, your gratitude skills will start to slip. Don’t you agree it’s so much easier to keep up a habit when you do it a little each day?

Start by doing something small for your gratitude practice – like writing down 1 thing you’re grateful for each day. This practice will develop your awareness of the abundance you have in your life without worrying that you’ll run out of ideas quickly.

You don’t have to do gratitude journaling every day, either. So long as you do it regularly, this could be every other day, weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly. You get to decide!

If you find yourself struggling for ideas, try actively seeking out opportunities to practice gratitude.

For example, each time you run into a friend, family member, or co-worker, stop and take a moment to be thankful for them being in your life.

You can thank them directly, or if this feels awkward, write it down in a gratitude journal when you next get a chance. This simple act will increase your gratitude and help you include things that sometimes get overlooked.

Then, when you’re ready for a bigger challenge, consider using your gratitude journal to write down 3-5 things or more if you’d like. Or you can even try doing a 30-day gratitude challenge where you write a certain amount of things you’re grateful for every day.

A done-for-you gratitude journal that you can easily print at home with writing prompts to help spark ideas can help strengthen your gratitude habit and document your journey. (Be sure to check out these gratitude templates for ideas.)

2) Taking things for granted

If you feel stuck or like you have nothing to be grateful for, then it could be you’re taking the things you have right now for granted.

Write a list of the things you have that perhaps even seem mundane. Things like food, water, clothes, and a roof over your head are broad examples but a good place to start if your feel stuck.

When we stop paying attention to our blessings, it’s easy to forget how much we’re blessed.

Remember to look around yourself and take note of what you have. Even if it seems small or basic, you can still express gratitude for it. You’ll often find it much easier to find gratitude ideas this way.

3) Focusing on the negative

Gratitude mistakes to check if your gratitude journal isn't working

If you’ve got a complaint, that’s a problem. But if you’re always looking for things to complain about, you’ll miss out on many good things in your life.

Think of it this way; if you focus all your attention on the negative things in life, this will end up being a problem in itself at some point.

For example, when it comes to relationships, focusing on the good things can lead to happier and healthier relationships. In comparison, if you’re always focused on the negative in your relationships – won’t they be more likely to fail?

4) Not making space for all your emotions

On the opposite end of the scale, you might completely ignore your negative emotions.

Just because you’ve started a gratitude journal doesn’t mean you need to bottle up or ignore your other emotions.

Yes, you should be trying to shift your focus to the positive. But…

If Shadow Work has taught me anything, it’s that even if you’re experiencing negative emotions like being sad, worried, angry, afraid, frustrated, or feeling guilt. Then you need to express them. (Ideally, in ways you can view as healthy.)

Ignoring your negative emotions is one of the most common gratitude mistakes in 2022 I see. And it will do the opposite of what you wanted your gratitude journal to do in the first place.

So what can you do?

A great way to process these negative emotions is by writing everything down.

You can write it in messy paragraphs exactly as your thoughts flow, write a letter, or even script out having a conversation.

It’s much easier to then take a step back and decide what options you have when you’re ready.

Is there something you can change?

Or do you need to find acceptance because you can’t control everything? (No matter how much you might want to.)

5) Thinking you should be grateful for everything

Gratitude mistakes to check if your gratitude journal is not working

Continuing from ignoring your negative emotions, another gratitude mistake you might be making is thinking you should be grateful for everything.

Don’t make your gratitudes false.

It’s okay not to feel grateful for something, want to complain, or straight up be angry about something. And you shouldn’t feel guilty about this either.

And there are plenty of things you probably shouldn’t ever be grateful for, like sickness or violence.

Only write your gratitude if you truly believe in it. Not because you feel like it’s expected of you or trendy.

For this reason, I believe any journaling you do should be a personal and private experience so you can be free of social pressures and judgment.

“Your journal will always listen to you but never judge you.”

6) Putting off your gratitude journaling

We all have busy work, family, and social lives that make it hard to manage our time and practice gratitude. But if you’re always looking for reasons to do it later, you’ll likely never develop the habit or gain the benefits.

So instead of making this gratitude mistake and putting off your gratitude journal. Why not find ways to make it easier for you?

If you find it hard to come up with ideas or write things down, then done-for-you gratitude prompts can help give you that nudge. Because, let’s be honest, having a blank page in front of you is always pretty daunting, no matter how experienced or creative you are at writing.

Other things you could try to troubleshoot when gratitude journaling isn’t working for you could be:

  • Keep your bullet points brief if you’re short on time, and go back and elaborate later.
  • If you don’t know what to write, look for gratitude prompts like these.
  • If your gratitudes feel repetitive, make a list of all the things you have and what it would feel like if you lost them. 
  • Your gratitudes feel boring and don’t inspire you. Dig deep into why you’re grateful and elaborate instead of just using bullet points, as it can bring new meaning. You can also try adding memories to your gratitude journal to make things even more meaningful.
  • Struggling to find time in the morning to journal, then try switching to the evening and vice versa. Feel free to do your journaling whenever suits you best in the day. There is no right or wrong time.
  • Not able to focus or too many distractions? Create a dedicated space for journaling you can call your own because you deserve to have some “me time” and spend it how you like best.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Sometimes starting a new habit is hard, and beating yourself up about it will only further discourage you.

7) Not digging into the why behind your gratitude

Gratitude mistakes to check if your gratitude journal is not working

Gratitude journaling can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be. But if you keep your gratitude writing to just 3-4 words because you’re short on time. Then you might quickly find yourself bored and uninspired.

If gratitude journaling is beginning to feel boring or like a chore, try spending a little longer to expand on your gratitudes.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to dig into the why. Ask yourself:

  • Why are you grateful for the things you’ve mentioned?
  • Can you get specific on the details?
  • Is there anything you can include in your journal entry that can help you remember it more clearly in the future?

You don’t have to stick to bullet points or a few sentences. You can add photos, drawings, stickers, pressed flowers, and anything else you can think of.

Not only will you be practicing your gratitude, but you’ll have recordings of those special little moments that made you feel grateful that you can look back on in the future. 

This makes your gratitude journal a great source for reflection, creativity, remembering happy memories, or just reminding yourself of how you’re fortunate.

Conclusion: Gratitude mistakes to check if your journal is not working

Gratitude mistakes to check if your gratitude journal is not working

In conclusion, if you find that your gratitude journal isn’t working for you, it could be you’re making one of these gratitude mistakes.

Fortunately, there are several tips that can help solve this problem:

  • Be sure to practice regularly
  • Be grateful only for things that matter to you
  • Don’t bottle up or ignore your emotions, even if they’re negative
  • Avoid putting things off when you can
  • And experiment to find what works best for you.

So, what things do you feel are holding you back from practicing gratitude? If you’re not sure how to practice gratitude or have any questions, always feel free to leave a comment below.

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