Lots of people spend holidays like Thanksgiving with family they don’t often see, and there can be drama and past stuff dredged up like clockwork. This post is for those people. Now that Thanksgiving is over, how did you do? And notice that I’m not saying, “How did it go?” That’s focusing on the external. I’m interested in the internal – how did you handle whatever happened?
Let’s take it a step further, in fact, because this is such a great way to grow. Go ahead and give yourself a score from 1-10, with 1 being absolutely terrible and 10 being freaking awesome. Did you try to avoid some of the old pitfalls? Examples might be the same arguments with the same people over the same things… usually from the past. Or the same bad conversations about whatever. And maybe you didn’t try a damn thing because you were so resentful. Who cares! Let’s start exactly where we are, see it clearly, and give it a score. We will take a moment of silence while you do this.
(moment of silence…)
Okay, good work. Whatever score you just gave yourself, I want you to do it with humor. Have fun. Be as light as possible about the whole thing. Even if you’re thinking, “Man, I was pretty awful and I give myself a 3,” then own it and accept it. Laugh at how awful you were. But try to get a 4 next time. If you have to apologize or reach out to anyone, then do it. But don’t beat yourself up about it. Own it and release it, then do what you have to do (which might be nothing). But vow to get back on that horse and give it your best effort next time. Vow to do your best to grow and embrace the fact that you’ll get another shot next time. Unless they die… Which is why we want to get on with this stuff and do our best to heal our relationships as best we can. Sooner rather than later. Because we will feel so much better after we do this.
I have one client who had only been to see me once right before Thanksgiving, and she applied the teachings and her day went noticeably more smoothly than it otherwise would have gone. She has relatives who can be, shall we say, challenging, and she specifically remembers pausing before speaking. And it worked. Yes! They acted like they usually do, and she got the usual impulses to react. She didn’t react, though. Instead, she simply watched that impulse and noticed it. It moved on pretty quickly, and then she calmly chose her words. The impulse or feeling did not do the talking; she did the talking. And what came out was different than what would’ve come out had she allowed the same old reaction to happen. And the tone was different (tone is SO huge, by the way). And the quality of the day was much better than it would’ve otherwise been. She knows this because they do this every year. What a GREAT use of Thanksgiving! And what an excellent measuring stick. She gets a high score, and she deserves it. She learned something only a week before, applied it, and got a better result. That’s what this work is all about. Love it…
That’s all for now – I just wanted to take a look at Thanksgiving while it’s still fresh, since it’s such a good measuring stick for so many of us. Rate yourself and then own the score. And be as light as possible about it. And if there’s room for improvement, then do your best to grow. Reading this blog serves that purpose, and there’s a ton of other material out there that can help as well. We will probably revisit this topic soon because Christmas is coming up.
What you can do in the meantime is go ahead and mentally take a look at any upcoming holiday interactions that are typically stressful. Own it and prepare yourself. Think about it. Check out the Tools & Techniques category of this blog. Then do this… predict your score. Set a goal. What would you like to get, a 7 or 8? A 5? Whatever it is, it gets you thinking about it. You’re putting your mind to work for you and tapping into its immense power. Then after Christmas, you can score yourself and compare it to your goal. This can be a pretty powerful way to go about things. We’ll probably be talking more about this informal scoring thing since I’ve recently been having clients do it with various aspects of their lives. It helps to focus the mind, and that can make all the difference.