Why Are We So Apprehensive About Showing Gratitude?

Why do we find it so difficult to express our gratitude?  Dr. Terrence Real, therapist and author of I Don’t Want To Talk About It, thinks that there are three main reasons that people have a hard time expressing gratitude.  The reasons for having a hard time are: negative emotional baggage from childhood, feeling it’s a sign of weakness, and having expectations – feeling like we don’t need to thank someone because they did something that had to be done anyway.We’ve been shown evidence that people who experience feelings of thankfulness and appreciation in their lives also tend to be happy. Given this fact, why do we sometimes find it so difficult to express our gratitude?

Dr. Terrence Real, therapist and author of I Don’t Want to Talk About It and The New Rules of Marriage, notes three main reasons:

Negative emotional baggage from our childhood

We associate being grateful and saying ‘Thank You’ with our parents constantly and publicly reminding us to thank others. Additionally, we’re often told “You should be grateful for all that I do for you!” We associate outward verbal expressions of gratitude with expectations others have for us instead of a heartfelt expression we’d like to share.

Perception as a sign of weakness

We think that others will see us as deficient or needy if we constantly have to rely upon others and thank them for their help. This is totally misguided because sharing our thanks and appreciation actually encourages others to do the same.


Why should I have to thank someone for the things that must be done? Shouldn’t I simply show my appreciation only when someone goes above and beyond what’s generally expected? That’s the problem, in a nutshell, with expectations. When you hold promise that something will happen, that’s one more thing that someone might not live up to. I simply can’t presume to assume what someone is, or is not, responsible for.

As humans in this world, we can’t exist without one another. Once you grasp those feelings of gratitude, don’t hold back on communicating and sharing them with those who are most deserving of your appreciation.

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