2020 is really throwing us for a loop. Just like with summer vacation plans and Halloween trick-or-treating, Thanksgiving is going to look a lot different this year. The CDC’s recommendations include avoiding travel and large gatherings, but do we still have plenty to cheer about?
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Thanksgiving 2020 Style
Are you wondering how on earth you can be thankful for anything with all the struggles you’re experiencing? Are you really meant to pretend that everything is perfectly okay sitting across from family members? The same family members that have driven you nuts these last few months confined together in the four walls of your home.
Trying to fake contentment by covering up your true emotions may last for the first hour of the family gathering but not the whole day and definitely not the entire weekend. After you down a few glasses of wine and the walls of restraint come crumbling down, your deeply rooted anger, sadness, and sense of being lost may surface. So, what do you do?
It’s true that COVID-19 has given us one of the biggest challenges of our lifetime but also one of our greatest opportunities. The restrictions placed on us have taken away gatherings with friends, concerts, theatre visits, going to the movies and so many other things. These activities allowed us to enjoy life and distract us. What’s left is a bunch of time to ourselves to reflect, distract or blame.
Time to Evaluate Our Lives
So, we have time to go inward, numb out with NETFLIX or project our worries/anger onto others. What does this all mean? Are there some hidden benefits to COVID -19? Might we finally look at our own lives and see what’s behind the curtain- once we are no longer rushing around and going a hundred miles an hour.
You may believe when you’re triggered (upset, angry, and reactive) that it’s the other person in your life (your spouse, children, your boss, etc.) causing you so much frustration. You believe it’s their words and actions that are causing you to feel bad. When we think this way, we put ourselves into a victim role thinking we’re at the mercy of those around us. That the circumstances in our lives control how we feel - does this sound right to you?
What’s the Real Story?
The cold hard truth is nobody can make you feel a certain way without your permission. When we get triggered and are reactive with family, friends and colleagues, we are not only giving our power away (by effectively saying “you can control my mood via your words or actions) we are also reacting from a place of childhood wounding/subconscious programming. Yes, the wounds of the past continue to haunt us until we take time to pause and pull back the curtain.
If you find the coffee pot empty because your husband took the last cup without considering your needs, your subconscious programming is triggering the feeling of not being loved. When your son slams the door in your face angry about the rules you place on him, you feel disrespected and this reminds you of a time in your childhood when someone important to you (your parents?) removed their love from you because they disagreed with your actions.
Your feelings are valid. Without realizing it, you’re looking for validation that you are loved and worthy from all the people around you, rather than knowing that you are.
Regardless of how others react to you, what they do or don’t do or what mistakes you make, you are a divine being worthy of love; just as you are. Your conscious mind can likely agree to that, but your subconscious mind, your deeply rooted programming, doesn’t. And that’s the crux of your suffering, toward yourself and others.
Moving Beyond the Suffering
“If you are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others.” – Eckhart Tolle
The first and most important habit you can start, is to pause when you feel any negative emotion. When you bring awareness to the moment rather than exploding, you give yourself a chance to dig deeper as to why you are feeling hurt or angry. You stop reacting from a place of force but rather address what’s truly at the source of your emotions.
For example, rather than yelling at your husband for taking the last cup of coffee or giving him the silent treatment, you can go within and consider what’s really bothering you. Seeing that the simple action of leaving the coffee pot empty made you feel forgotten or disrespected allows you to have a calm conversation with him sharing how this situation made you feel.
I can bet that your husband didn’t intentionally make you feel that way. It wasn’t his malicious plan to hurt you. Finding a calm moment to have the conversation with him will likely end in a genuine apology and a hug.
Apply this same thoughtful approach to the conversation with your son, keeping in mind that he has reasons for slamming the door in your face. Ask him what emotions your restrictions brought up. His answers can be insightful and healing. After searching his deeper reasons for acting out, he may have felt that you don’t trust him.
That’s the basis of a fruitful conversation and true connection. Everyone feels seen and heard.
With an understanding that not just your anger, sadness, and other negative emotions have deeper meanings, but also for those around you, your heart opens up towards yourself and others.
This Thanksgiving you could challenge yourself to be the one who sets the example.
● Be the one who stops reacting on the first impulse to raise your voice but rather go within to search for the true meaning of your anguish.
● Be the one who takes the lead in showing the path to open and meaningful communication with those around you.
● Be the one who understands that the negative reactions to your words and actions are due to some deeply rooted pain within them. They were triggered, so approach them with love and compassion.
● Be the one who brings the family back together this Thanksgiving.
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