In the U.S., Thanksgiving is a time for coming together, sharing a meal, and being thankful.
And there is much to be thankful for.
This year, perhaps more so than in years passed, we may have a ton of emotions showing up to the feast with us.
Triggers and pre-kindled arguments ready to burst into flames.
With that in mind, how can we not just survive the holidays, but THRIVE?
It's going to take some vulnerability and planning, but doing the Fears / Wants / Loves exercise will help you THRIVE.
STEP 1: Support Person
First you need to connect with someone you can trust, someone who will listen without needing to respond or fix anything, and someone who leaves you feeling supported and loved.
STEP 2: Exercise
In person or via video chat, sit comfortably facing each other. Have your supportive person set a timer for three minutes. Have him or her push start and then ask you, "What is it you fear most about getting together for Thanksgiving?"
You answer might sound like this:
I am afraid of getting lost in all of the people. I am afraid of shrinking into a corner. I'm afraid of falling into old family roles. I am afraid of getting yelled at about my posts on Facebook. I'm afraid of leaving abruptly, because I can't take the conversation. I fear gorging myself on everything and hating myself the next day.
Your job is to not to analyze or judge yourself but to keep speaking from the heart everything you fear. If you draw a blank, your support person will say, "Thank you" and repeat the question: "What is it you fear most about getting together for Thanksgiving?"
Continue to speak until the timer goes off. When the timer goes off, your support person says, "Thank you."
Now if you are willing to do this for your support person in return, and I strongly encourage you to do this, this is when you can switch. You set a timer for three minutes and then ask your partner, "What is it you fear most about getting together for Thanksgiving?"
After the timer goes off and you've said thank you, you move on to wants.
Your partner asks, "What is it you want most for Thanksgiving?"
I want delicious food and the ability to keep my portions small so I can enjoy a little of everything. I want connection. I want conversation. I want smiles and thankfulness. I want a warm body and a just-right, full tummy. I want the laughter of children and the warmth between adults. I want family.
"Thank you" she or he says when the timer goes off. You switch.
Finally your partner asks, "What is it you love about your family and Thanksgiving?" and you swell with your response.
I love us all coming together to celebrate. I love the chill in the air and the colors on the trees. I love all of the kids playing together. I love that the expectation is always there for us to be together. I love the good food, the laughter, the stories, that there's always someone with whom to connect.
After three minutes have gone off and your support person has said "thank you," please ask him or her the same question: "What is it you love about your family and Thanksgiving?"
When she or he has finished, say "thank you" and end the exercise with a hug and your heartfelt thanks for holding space together.
STEP 3: Healthy Boundaries
After having expressed your fears, recognizing your wants, and embracing what you love about your family and Thanksgiving, head to the celebration!
Set the intention to find and create your wants and desires. You aren't powerless if one of your fears shows up. You can politely excuse yourself to another room. You can change the topic.
And if all else fails, bring up Adele:
I would love to hear about your experience using this exercise. Leave a comment below to let me know how it goes.
Of course, if you know someone who could benefit from this exercise, share it.
Finally, please know I'm incredibly thankful for you.
Enjoy a beautiful holiday,