Thanksgiving is one of those holidays known for bringing families together...but also for pushing them apart.
And there are a lot of families feeling divided post election in a way that may make dinner later today feel more daunting than usual. Some of my clients have been experiencing a sense of isolation in their beliefs since the election, and frustration with the fact that it seems like their families maybe voted against not only a progressive way forward, but the values that make up all of who they are, so in a sense with one vote, their families rejected them.
That's a hard pill to swallow and its hard for many to think of today as a festive one. Not to mention with Standing Rock reminding us of the not so pretty history of the day, the tension is thick and fears about how dinner will go are running rampant.
So how do we come together today around the dinner table with love, understanding, and without eating everything in sight? How do we express our truth without it devolving into the worst Thanksgiving ever?
The first step is to remember that your family likely feels as firm in their beliefs as you do, and they also may be having the same fears. Making them wrong for having a different perspective won’t get you far. I know it can be so hard to understand.
See if you can find a neutral place in your heart. You don’t need to make other people wrong to be grounded in your truth. Making people wrong so you can be right is a power struggle that won’t end in the way you're hoping for.
“But,” I’ve been asked, “isn’t it our duty to help others see the light?”
The light from a space of judgement isn’t light. If you go to them with judgement and force your own beliefs, as much as you believe they are the “right side”, they will not likely come to you to be a safe place to open up and grow when they’re ready. And it’s not fun for your either.
Forcing, pushing, is also blocking. Blocking opportunities to really connect and be understood.
We have to model in ourselves what we hope to see in them. And sometimes that means biting your tongue if what’s going to come out isn’t from a loving place.
You being a model of love and light - not buying into the drama, not losing yourself in the argument - that will, in a sense, be a seduction. One day your light will shine so brightly that they might say “hmmmmm, she seems so bright and joyful, I want what she has”.
Your confidence and being unwavering in your beliefs from a space of love is powerful. And by unwavering, I mean not buying into the fear, anger, and hate by trying to fight theirs.
That's what it means to be empowered.
Think of today as an opportunity for planting seeds of love, truth, and light. Invite them into the conversation without forcing. “I don’t agree with you, but if you’re interested in understanding me more, let me know and I’m happy to talk about it with you openly and with love”.
And then breathe and surrender.
Trying to convince them to see your side and wake them up will only lead to them dig deeper into the heels of their convictions.
One day they might have that inkling of a thought that maybe this isn’t the president they thought they were voting for. If you’ve set the scene with love, you just might be the safe place for them to go if they start to question their beliefs and want to talk about them.
Be the lighthouse. A warrior of love. Meet them where they are.
Repeat my favorite mantra when I find myself in judgement of others…
"They are doing the best that they can with the skills and the knowledge that they have. I forgive them."
And when you find yourself stuffing your face with stuffing to deal with the tension?
Pause and breathe again.
Put your fork down.
Look around the table, take them in, remember who they really are, and send them love. Connect to the gratitude of the fact that you still have them in your life. Remember they do love you. Maybe its hard for them to show that in a way that feels good, but I promise they do.
Of all the days in the year, this is the day to give thanks for what you do have. "Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot." Find gratitude in the friends and community you do have who share your values. Connect with them. Let them help you see that you are worthy of love and acceptance just as you are, for everything that you are.
Thank you for being you and for shining YOUR beautiful lights in the world. I'm grateful for YOU!
Happy Thanksgiving <3
For some more tips on staying empowered though these post-election times, I shared some tips in this article on Elle magazine.
And as always, I’m here for you if you need additional support.