Thriving Through Thanksgiving With Family

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In the United States this week is Thanksgiving. Typically during holidays, people spend time with people they are related to regardless if these people bring happiness, joy, peace or comfort with them. Society does not typically look favorably on people who distance themselves from the people they are related to by birth or marriage. I'm not going to address who you choose to spend time with. However, I am going to give you some tips to help you thrive during Thanksgiving (or any of the Holidays).  

Because people are typically over committed, busy, and distracted I am going to keep this blog somewhat brief. As always, please feel free to apply any or all of these suggestions. My recommendations are as follows:

1.  Create Supportive Allies:  For some people that means bringing a supportive friend or non-family member to the gatherings. This could be a family member IF they have the capacity to act as a buffer.  Many times families will not act as inappropriately if there is an “outsider" there. The family is typically motivated to be on good behavior if others are present.

  2. Use Distractions: When I am in situations where I am uncomfortable I sometimes seek out distractions such as babies, children, and pets. Because animals (and children) are typically very open to energy, they can typically sense when the tension is raising.  Even if it’s something as simple as getting up from the conversation to let the dog outside. Distractions are effective because they put a pause on the conversation.  

3. Stay In Control of Yourself:  I am not trying to appear judgmental but this is such a huge piece of the event.   If too much sugar amps you up, if alcohol makes you lose your filter, or if drugs make you forget your responsibilities DO NOT ENGAGE.   I mean this fairly literally. This is a family event and I prefer to set you up for success. In order to stay calm and centered you need to remain in control of yourself. 

4.  Pick Your Battles:  While family is "supposed" to love you unconditionally  that doesn't mean they accept you, share your values, or even appreciate you.   To be perfectly blunt sometimes it's best to not try and convert your family to align with your viewpoints but to just minimize the possible damage.  Sometimes it's okay to just have surface level conversations. Not everyone deserves your intimate and strongly held beliefs. 

5.  Take Nothing Personally:  So many times when we spend time with people we are related to (either by birth or marriage), those are the same people who are easily able to hurt us. When I learned to take nothing personally everything in my life began to change. Taking everything personally is honestly so exhausting. Make the commitment to not take any words, looks, acts, actions or behaviors personally.  Nothing anyone does is about you. When you stop taking things personally it gives you so much freedom. 

6.  Respond Don't React:  When I was in undergrad I took this course on Court Testimony.  I learned the most helpful concept. They taught us that after every question was asked while we were on the stand, before we answered to take a breath in and out. This allowed for two things: it gave us an opportunity to answer the question asked while also really thinking about the question asked. I love to teach the clients I work with this concept. When you are reacting, so many times you are feeding into or perpetuating the stimuli. However, when you respond it safeguards against saying or doing something you may need to apologize for, 

7.  Practice Good Self Care: Let’s be perfectly clear for a moment. Holidays are historically a time when many people absolutely over commit. This could be a blog all by itself. Self-care looks differently for everyone. What I might consider self-care, you might consider torture. I will never intentionally Shame anyone for how they choose to engage in self-care. In my opinion, all self-care is good self-care. Please make sure that you are doing something to take care of yourself during this busy time of year.

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I hope that these suggestions are helpful for you. I also want to explain to you that I am a firm believer in spending time with Family of Choice. I personally will be spending Thanksgiving with my Family of choice. I would love to hear how you are spending your holiday.

Jenn Bovee is a Shame Busting Coach who partners with people to help them create the life of their fantasies.  Learn more about Jenn here: