Holiday Gatherings….family, friends, traffic, food you “shouldn’t” eat, stress…this is the time of year when we often remember grudges and re-live ancient history. We invest energy worrying about seeing that person who hurt us years ago and set our expectations (often unknowingly) for having an unpleasant experience, again.
What if you could acknowledge that truth and change your experience?
Let’s say that your mother disapproves of the diet you eat. She asks, demandingly, “How can you come to Thanksgiving Dinner and not want turkey, gravy, potatoes with marshmallows, stuffing and, don’t forget, the apple pie a la mode with whipped cream?!”You’ve gone vegetarian, or are at least trying to eat healthier. But you don’t want to start a fight either. Do you swallow your pride or swallow turkey?
You start remembering all the times she told you what to do or questioned your behavior. You start to become angry. You feel guilty because you’re angry and you don’t want to fight with her yet you feel defensive, so start fighting with yourself.
Here’s another way.
Practice this exercise NOW so that you’ll be prepared in the moment.If you need to, make a list of the things your mother (or whomever is challenging) might say to you. Be thorough.Next, start listing things that you know to be absolutely, 100% true. To continue with the example of Mother, you might write:
- Mom wants to share traditions with me.
- Mom is hosting Thanksgiving dinner, which means she cleaned the house and spent several hours in the kitchen.
- I used to love potatoes with marshmallows.
- My tastes have changed.
- I still love apple pie a la mode, but I choose to not eat it because it rockets my blood sugar and exacerbates my candida
- I’m glad to be sharing time with my family.
As you write this list, be aware of your feelings. You might notice a slight shift from anger to something less intense.
When you have really exhausted the list of truths that you can write – try to write a few more! And then notice what resources you’ve just created for saying something which is truthful and not based in anger.
Using the above list, you might respond by saying
- “Well, I really value sharing time with my family and the food is less important.” or
- “Mom, I so appreciate that you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner – I know you spent a lot of time cleaning the house and working in the kitchen.” or
- “I still love some of those foods, especially your apple pie, but it exacerbates my candida and I’d rather feel good.”
These statements neutralize the situation and discontinue the argument. They probably feel good to everyone, because they honor your truth and also acknowledge the other person in a positive way.(It’s true that some people simply love to argue and are happiest when they are arguing. In that case, you still have the choice to not participate or to participate with awareness that you are merely playing a game or role-playing).