Here in the States, we’re just over a week away from our Thanksgiving Day holiday. It’s a day when groups of family and friends, large and small, traditionally gather to feast and celebrate together. It’s a day that is meant to be festive, enjoyable and filled with food, conversation and gratitude for the blessings we have – individually and collectively. It’s intended to be a time of connection with and appreciation of the peojple who are meaningful in your life. And it generally is…
But sometimes a Thanksgiving family gathering will turn into something that’s not enjoyable. Rather than being a time of appreciation, it can become an event that reminds you of all the things you detest about the people gathered. Feelings get hurt, tempers flare and ugly things get said. Sometimes the remarks are made loudly, angrily and directly; other times it’s done in sneaky, knife in the back, passive-aggressive ways.
In either case, things can quickly go sideways… and it’s no fun. You end up wishing that you had decided to just dine alone instead of getting together with the people who know your buttons all too well.
In preparation for the Thanksgiving Holiday, I’ve got some tips you can use to have more joyful, peaceful and appreciative family and friend interactions. These little techniques will help you manage your own perspectives, feelings and responses so that your interactions are positive and contribute to a better day for all.
1. Set an Intention
Take a few moments to decide what kind of experience you want to have and how you’d like to feel about it at the end of the day. Spend at least a couple of minutes imagining the activities and interactions going as you intend. Imagine looking back on the gathering at the end of the day feeling really great about it all.
2. Make a list
Make a list of at least 5 things that you genuinely love or appreciate about each of the guests. These can be qualities, characteristics, accomplishments, physical attributes or other things. Even if you’re not fond of each person who will be there, you can still find things to admire and appreciate about them. Focus on these things about each person throughout the day, instead of anything that you don’t like about them.
During the Event
3. Acknowledge others
During the early part of the gathering, go individually to each of the people attending and share a sincere compliment and/or words of appreciation. You already made the list, now use it! Doing so will help you feel more connected with everyone and set a positive tone for you and for the others. Make sure that you deliver the compliment from your heart and don’t expect that you should receive anything in return. If you do get a compliment or expression of appreciation back, accept it gracefully and simply say ‘thank you.”
4. Don’t take anything personally.
Whatever anyone says or does, you can recognize that it’s not personal to you – it’s really about their own fears, insecurities, foibles or issues. You can choose to not be offended or upset by any unseemly comments or actions, and to see them with compassion instead. This is also a good time to remember and focus on the positive qualities of the person you identified earlier.
5. Pretend to be an alien.
That’s right – an alien. If things do start to get weird, then get a little weird yourself. Pretend that you’re an alien explorer, sent specifically to earth to learn about humans by observing them in their own environment. Choose to be really curious about and fascinated by their behaviors and interactions, without having any judgments or opinions about what they’re doing. You’re simply observing, not evaluating them. See how well you can do at being polite, and passing yourself off as a real human without being detected!
If you have thoughts or stories to share, please feel free to leave a comment below.
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So here’s wishing you a joyful, loving and connected gathering with family and friends on Thanksgiving day and beyond. You don’t have to depend on the mood and actions of others, you can choose to make changes for yourself!
With love and enthusiasm,