Are you ready for Thanksgiving? I mean―mentally ready?
Thanksgiving gives us all an opportunity to stop. To be grateful. To experience an abundance of food and wine, laughter and lively conversation. To remember that we all have more than enough in every area of our lives.
And yet it can also be a source of tension, stress, and sadness, as some of us navigate challenging family dynamics. For introverts, just thinking about gathering with a large group of people is stressful, because we know our social batteries get drained fast.
There are choices we can make now that will protect our energy and our feelings, allowing us to fully experience and enjoy the day―perhaps more than we ever have before.
Here are five ways to change the way you show up at the Thanksgiving table this year.
Detach From Outcomes: All of Them
High expectations tend to go hand in hand with the holidays. The perfect Thanksgiving dinner, lively and harmonious conversation―the list could go on and on.
But expectations open the door to disappointment because reality rarely matches the images we conjure up in our minds. I love this quote from Tony Robbins:
Trade your expectation for appreciation and your world changes instantly.
Free yourself from all of your expectations by replacing them with gratitude. This will keep you detached from the outcome you want so you can enjoy what actually unfolds, present to each moment, and open to serve those around you.
A Guaranteed Solution: Serve
Something magical happens when we make it about others. When we listen deeply far more than we speak, and are more interested in what the other person has to say than looking for our opening to reply. We develop a greater capacity for empathy, forgiveness, and gratitude.
Looking for opportunities to serve helps us get out of our own way by shifting the focus from ourselves to someone else. And for introverts, this approach can create the meaningful experiences we crave as well.
Set your intention for Thanksgiving dinner right now. Decide to make it about others and seek out small ways to help or impact each person there. A different level of meaning is created when you give, and serving others often leads straight to a very deep level of gratitude.
Forgiveness & Gratitude: A Powerful Combination
For those of us who will be walking into difficult situations with family and friends, gratitude AND forgiveness can help you be your best self no matter what happens―especially when the conversation takes a wrong turn into politics with someone who voted differently than you did.
Make the commitment to forgive as much and as often as you can. Forgiveness has a powerful healing effect, especially when you’re able to forgive in the middle of the offending moment.
Follow your forgiveness with gratitude to deepen the internal impact, and notice the ripple effect on everyone around you.
Ask the Game-Changing Question: What Am I Making this Mean?
Family and friends have an uncanny knack for pushing our buttons. Strangers can too, but it tends to run deeper with those we love most.
Our buttons have developed over time, and really have nothing to do with the person who is pushing them. It’s the story we’re telling ourselves that is causing the pain, but it’s almost impossible to see that in the midst of the strong swirl of emotions.
When you are emotionally triggered, remove yourself from the situation as quickly as you can, turn inwards and ask yourself: what am I making this mean? Keep internally asking that question, following each answer until you arrive at the root of the issue.
The gifts of understanding and a deeper level of self-awareness live inside of our buttons. Taking the time to figure out what is really going on inside can eliminate them entirely―or at least lessen their impact.
Become Steeped In Gratitude: Today, Tomorrow & the Next Day, Too
Gratitude is in the spotlight on Thanksgiving Day, but steeping yourself in gratitude right now can completely change the way you approach the entire day. This will equip you to view each experience and situation through the lens of opportunity instead of conflict, and you will show up differently as a result.
Thanksgiving Day can be a powerful springboard for your gratitude practice, but one day will not build this muscle enough to effectively flex it when you need it most. Soak up every moment with great food, family, and friends, but don’t lose sight of the importance of keeping this feeling alive on Black Friday and beyond.
Wishing you a beautiful Thanksgiving filled with love, appreciation, and self-reflection.