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Keep the peace around the Thanksgiving dinner table

Hanging out with family can really make us nuts. Gabby Bernstein teaches us how to cope.

No family is perfect, but you can work on having a fight-free Thanksgiving. Credit: Photodisc No family is perfect, but you can work on having a fight-free Thanksgiving.
Credit: Photodisc

Does the term "happy holidays" seem like an oxymoron to you? Hanging out with family can really make us nuts: We may revert to immature behavior, dig up old resentments and bottle up emotions until we lose it. Sound familiar?

But these issues can actually be a good thing: They create an opportunity for change. This Thanksgiving, don’t let your family dynamic get you down. Instead, follow these simple tips for keeping the peace around the dinner table.

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1. Mirroring

Is there a family member that gets under your skin? Someone who riles you up with his mere presence? The truth is, the feeling that person ignites in you is a reflection of the way you feel about yourself. Don't point the finger at Uncle Joe because he's not at fault. Rather, he is simply reflecting the way you feel about yourself. He is the mirror.

If you feel insecure about yourself, insecurity will be reflected back at you. If you don't believe in yourself, neither will anyone else. However, if you feel good about yourself, others will feel good about you.

Each time you experience a strong adverse reaction to someone, ask yourself the following questions: What is this person's behavior making me feel, and how is that related to the way I feel about myself?

2. Mind the gap

In this case, minding the gap is all about breaking old patterns. Instead of flipping out when someone upsets you, stop and witness the feeling that comes up. Then hang out with that feeling for 90 seconds. Feeling instead of reacting creates a gap, which serves as a form of healing. Feeling your unfelt pain is actually a big release. From there, you can process your old issues — then, they can dissolve and heal. Still want to scream after 90 seconds? Try focusing on something good about the person you're upset with. It can help you think your way into a more positive place.

3. Use the F-word

That word is forgiveness. Holding onto resentment actually harms you — resentment keeps you stuck in the past and negatively affects your state of mind. Feelings of anger weaken your thoughts, your energy and your physical wellbeing. By choosing to forgive, you release negativity and clear space for happiness to set in. If you're having trouble forgiving someone, examine the role you've played in the drama and take ownership of your behavior. This will help you release the other person.

If something's totally uncalled for — like that nagging auntie who pesters you about getting married — it's important to recognize that when you carry the resentment, you make the situation worse. When you forgive someone, you're actually setting yourself free. Therefore, go into the forgiveness practice with the mindset that you're putting yourself first by forgiving and letting go.

Family members can be your best teachers, and all issues are assignments from the universe. Focus your attention inward, feel your feelings and when in doubt, use the F-word.

 
 
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