Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and it’ll be a time where the people you love gather together to reflect on our abundant blessings and to give thanks to our God who supplies so graciously.
And it can be one of the most stressful times of the year. Why? Well, did I mention that a bunch of people were going to be there? And you’re one of those people, too.
That’s why I thought it would be very appropriate and timely to talk about how to keep your peace…at any time. I want you to be equipped. Because I want you to have the best time, full of love and joy and gratitude.
So, let’s briefly take a look at why this might be one of the most stressful times of your year, so that when it’s happening you can at least say, “Ah, of course, Tricia told me that would happen.”
We’ve already acknowledged the fact that one of the reasons there is stress is because there are people involved. People with human brains. Human brains that are mostly unmanaged. Now, let me stop here a second and say, if you are someone who is working on your own personal development continuously - you understand that with every thought you think, you are creating an emotion that makes you feel all kinds of different ways, and then you recognize that you act or don’t act a certain way based on those feelings, that give you results in your life that you like or don’t like - if this awareness is helping you identify and reject lie-based beliefs so that you can reframe your stories or create new perceptions of events (past or present), then when you hang around people, even for one Thanksgiving day, that are not managing their minds in this way, it’s going to drive you crazy. It’s hard to keep your peace. I hear this from my clients all the time. Their eyes have been opened and they’re so much more aware when someone else’s eyes are not. They’ve been “red pilled,” if you will. So, it’s easy to get judgmental and want to help them swallow the red pill, too. Or to see the errs of their ways…or at least to see the errs of their thinking that’s creating their ways.
See people are coming with their own backpacks full of heavy stuff. A layoff at work, a struggling marriage or other relationship, a medical issue, rejection, insecurities, loss, grief, a conflict with a family member lastThanksgiving. They don’t know how to take off that heavy backpack, so they bring it in with them and wear it the whole time. And the later it gets the heavier it feels, and the more agitated or stirred up they get. They become easily offended. They lash out or accuse or complain. They may even declare “This the most miserable Thanksgiving ever!” and storm out the door.
The problem is most people don’t even know that they’re creating their own misery. They don’t know that they literally can change their perceptions around events just by changing their thinking …and thus the outcome - how they’re experiencing their life.
So, how do you spend an entire day with the Eeyore uncle, or the passive-aggressive grandma, or the narcissistic, know-it-all nephew? Without feeling rag-dolled around by each of their moods, or words, or behaviors? How to you get through the holidays, keep your peace, and keep your cool?
Because, remember, you’re one of those people there, too, with your own human brain and your own backpack. Bringing all your own stuff with you. All your past experiences and perceptions, your own opinions and shortfalls, your own wounds that haven’t been healed that lead to you getting defensive too easily, being judgmental of others, or make you want to pout in a corner.
All the humans gathered together. Isn’t it fun?
Well, it actually can be. And here’s how: Leave the expectations behind. Don’t take them with you. Don’t put them in the backpack! We can have expectations of certain traditions being followed, or beautifully decorated homes and tables, or making memories, expectations of everyone being happy and nice and loving. In Life Coaching, we call them Manuals.
A Manual is an instruction guide we have for someone in our lives about how we would like them to behave so that we can feel good and be happy. So that we could have a good Thanksgiving this year. Having Manuals for people is problematic when your emotional happiness is directly tied to their behaving a certain way. You are literally handing over your power of how you will feel to someone else; someone who is just as fickle about their moods as you are.
But another problem of having Manuals is that when we expect people to behave a certain way, saying things like, “Everyone should be happy and get along,” or “They should be here celebrating with us,” we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Because, although these thoughts sound so nice and lovely, they’re bound to make us miserable. And that’s because we can’t make people behave a certain way or do certain things. And the need to control the people around us will steal our peace.
So, anytime we say or think someone should or shouldn’t do something, say something, or believe something; when we go around saying, even if it’s in our mind, she “should” come in here and help me… They “should” say thank you…He “shouldn’t” say things in such a demanding way. She “should” quit complaining and manage her mind better.” When you put shoulds and shouldn’ts on people, you can be sure you have a Manual for them. And it’s a sure way to give you results that are the exact opposite of peace.
So instead of packing our Manuals and bringing them with us, what if we decided to let people be people; to lay the Manuals down, lay the expectations aside, and allow everyone to be authentically themselves this Thanksgiving? What if we were okay with allowing each person to have the kind of experience that theychoose to have?
And that includes you, my friend. What if you allowed yourself the grace to be authentically you, and then youget to choose what kind of experience you want to have this Thanksgiving?
It’s true that if we have Manuals for others, typically we have Manuals for ourselves. “I should decorate the house beautifully, have all the right games to play; I should cook a perfectly moist and golden turkey, make sure everyone is happy. Everything should look and feel like a Hallmark movie.” If this is our Manual, then we’re going to be sorely disappointed and we’re going to create more hardship for ourselves. Because most of that’s not remotely attainable or realistic.
But what if you decided that you were going to let go of those kinds of expectations of what would make for a perfect Thanksgiving? And instead decided that showing up with confidence, with courage, with humility, with compassion and love, with patience, with authenticity, without expectations of yourself or others, would make for the best Thanksgiving yet. If this is how you’ve decided to show up, this is the experience you will certainly have. And in this way, during these times gathered together with all the people with human brains, no matter what someone might say to you, or how they might treat you, you will be able to keep your peace and experience the most thankful of Thanksgivings.
I want to leave you with a few more resources if you’d like some more help here.
In Episode number 62 - Happier Holidays I talked about Manuals there, but at the end I give 3 tools that you can use when you’re in the heat of the moment to help you keep your peace. You can practice these ahead of time and be equipped to navigate through anything.
Then in Episode number 77 - People Are Not Always Loving And Loyal, I talk about what it means to take 100% of the responsibility of your own emotions and how to do that. That’s a great episode if I do say so myself.
Then in Episode number 105 - How To Take Criticism, I show you how to consider whether the criticism is about you or about them. And what to do about it. Another good one.
Listen, don’t think I don’t go back and preach to myself time and again. When God’s teaching you, sometimes you have to go over the curriculum a couple of times to get it.
Okay, friend, I think you’re ready to have a Thanksgiving like you’ve never experienced before: one full of gratitude, and ease, and peace. This is possible in spite of all that does or doesn’t happen as you gather to reflect and give thanks with all of the people you love.
Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours. May the God of peace bring you peace at all times and in every way. (2 Thess. 3:16)
Hey, friend, I really do hope that you and your family have an extraordinary Thanksgiving. And, before you gather with all those loved ones, be sure to download that complementary guide that’ll help you when you gather together with all the people that you love. The link to get the guide is in the show notes.
See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life.