How to Unhook from a Difficult Holiday Conversation!

Getting a pit in your stomach when you think about Thanksgiving dinner table conversation?

If so, this one’s for you!

For whatever reason stuff comes up around the holidays. We get triggered by someone else's behavior and being around family seems to bring stuff up.  It's pretty common for us to label certain family members as bad, or wrong, or "the problem". We can also do the opposite, and see ourselves as difficult, crazy, or too sensitive.

Here's an idea for how to shift a difficult interaction.

It's helpful to view the conversation like you are playing a game of catch.

When playing you can choose to throw the ball back, keep it, hurl it, or toss it.

When we hurl it, or keep it, we end up carrying "stuff" that weighs us down.

Let’s explore some language that helps us toss it back:

Sounds like you have a lot of energy about ___.(fill in with whatever they said)

That sounds really important to you.

I imagine you feel strongly about ____?

Yup. You want things to be ____. Is that right?

Are you feeling frustrated because you’d like ____ to be different?

It sounds like you really want to share your thoughts about___?

Do you notice that you aren't including yourself in what you are tossing back? You are simply giving them back their energy, thoughts, feelings, or ideas. You don't have to take it personally, believe it's true, or think they are trying to convince you. You don't have to see them as wrong and you as right. 

This toss back takes practice. Ask a friend to try this with you. Have them be your family member and toss you some of the familiar conversations that have been difficult in the past. 

Now switch and be your family member. Notice how it feels to have your thoughts or feelings gently tossed back to you.  Not agreed or disagreed with. Not made wrong or right. Simply seen, heard and acknowledged.

If it’s working you will notice a feeling of relief, or ease, or possibly even some enjoyment. Check in with how your friends feels.

It may seem awkward at first. Learning a new way of communicating is awkward. Your brain wants to go back to the familiar. And, where does the familiar get you?

If the conversation goes south take a break. Go to the bathroom. Lock the door.  Do whatever works for you to reset: take three deep breaths, imagine yourself in your favorite place, call a friend, do this kundalini breathing practice, shake it out, laugh, make faces at yourself in the mirror, do a yoga pose.

It’s in the attempts at being different that we learn.

What’s the worst thing that could happen?  What’s the best case scenario?

Happy Thanksgiving!