No Family is Perfect: How to Enjoy the Holidays When Your Family Feels Toxic
Thanksgiving is almost here, which means that many of us will be spending time with extended family and friends. This can be a cause of joy, but to speak frankly, it can also be a cause of irritation.
I think Ram Dass said it best, “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” How many of us feel enlightened after spending the whole Thanksgiving day with our relatives?
Here’s the good news: No matter what your situation or your family dynamics, you can walk into the Thanksgiving dinner strong in your convictions while still coming from a place of peacefulness. You can enjoy the holiday and connect with your family, even when you hear your uncle say something that offends you or your brother wants to debate about abortion rights.
How so? Follow my Quantum Love Survival Guide for the holidays:
1) Understand that YOU have the power to change the energy of the room. While other people’s behavior is out of our control, we still have the ability to dramatically impact others’ energetic states. This means that if you get into a state of coherence (a calm, peaceful loving state of alignment that occurs when your heart is open), you will be able to change the energy of the room and the reactions of those around you, without even having to say or do a thing. This is especially true when it comes to close family and friends, as our energy is entangled even more intimately with those we love and know well. So when you get into a state of coherence, you can help your family and friends to follow suit. You can enter into a state of entrainment, in which your energies came into vibrational harmony. In this state, we can connect with our highest selves.
2) Set an intention for the party. Rather than focusing on what you don’t want (for example, an argument about Donald Trump), focus on what you do want. I don’t mean “I want my turkey to turn out well” or “I want to have fun.” No, I want you to get more specific and yes, even spiritual (by which I mean of the spirit, not religious dogma). To do so, think of a time when you felt very connected and joyful with your family (you may have to go back several years or even to your childhood). How do you feel during that time? Warm, sparkling with light, at peace, and suffused with love? How did you feel physically? Light, open, relaxed and loose? Set an intention that you will bring those feelings into existence during the party. Don’t wait for love and harmony to fall in your lap. Create it. Or, rather, allow it—it’s already within you and all around you, you just have to drink it in.
3) Make a grounding exercise part of your pre-party preparation. Try my Thanksgiving Grounding Mediation. It’s an audio clip, so you can listen to this on your headphones while on the plane, while driving in the car, or even while you are waiting for your cranberry sauce to cook down.) It will help you to get connected with your inner self and to stay connected with your source during the event.
4) Another great meditation to try is the Open-hearted meditation. Staying open-hearted during a disagreement or a tense political discussion is key to ensuring that your words come from a place of true power. You will speak from a place of love, empathy and a desire for understanding, rather than a place of rage or hatefulness. That being said: I want you to know it’s okay to be angry and it’s okay to express anger. Being open-hearted doesn’t mean that you have to squash your emotions. But it does mean that you are able to feel them and release them, rather than clinging onto them or making up stories to support your continued suffering, i.e. “I am a victim and life isn’t fair”. (By the way, check out my latest radio show on “Understanding the Trump Supporter” if you are still struggling with anger or fear over our political climate.)
5) Do a gratitude reboot. Numerous studies have supported the amazing impact that gratitude can have your own well-being. I have committed to doing a gratitude reboot for the next 30 days in which I express gratitude in whatever situation causes me stress or anger. For example, if my plane is delayed or I am stuck in traffic, then I am grateful that I get to listen to a podcast. I consider it an invitation from the universe to slow down and breathe. Or, if the kids are keeping me up at night and won’t go to bed, I relish the realization that this is a short time in our lives and that I should drink in every moment of cuddle time and playtime. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and soon gratitude becomes part of your personal story rather than something you have to work at every day.
So, apply this mindset of gratitude to your Thanksgiving dinner. Okay, so your relative angered you with his political opinion. What can you be grateful for in that situation? How about the fact that we live in a free, democratic country with diverse opinions? Or how about the fact that your relative is giving you an opportunity to work on your patience? When you come from a place of gratitude, everything in your life becomes so much easier, whether you are stressing over your burnt pie crust or politics.