A warm fire, the smell of turkey in the oven, and smiling friends and family around the dinner table. A perfect scene...
Thanksgiving is a time of giving thanks and POTENTIAL connection--families gathered with open hearts of love for each other, experiencing the joy of holiday traditions. One of the most important things in life is being thankful for the value we have around us in the form of our closest relationships.
For some, though, the holidays are marked with a deep sadness because of the lack of connection with family and friends.
In fact, a majority of the discomfort & anxiety we experience during holidays like Thanksgiving is directly tied to the level of disconnection we feel with our families.
Let’s turn the tables this year! Let’s make the goal of this holiday connection, not just being in the same room together!
And yes, I understand your situation may be “complicated.” Regardless, here are a few things we can all do to make this a Thanksgiving with a bit more connection than those past.
1. Focus on the heart connection.
Our children need to feel the strength of our love on a regular basis, and so do our adult relationships.
As people age, it can become easier to disconnect our emotions. It seems easy to show affection to children. Adults can be more difficult. If there is a disconnect between you and a family member, remember to focus on your heart connection.
Find out how they FEEL, what might be bothering them, and show real empathy for them. When they realize you are a safe place for them to share about their life, you will gain more trust. Over time, this new level of trust can turn into a loving, meaningful exchange of relationship.
2. Avoid the tendency to “run away.”
During the holidays especially, tensions can get high when we bring the pain of past hurts into our current situation.
When we feel emotions that cause us to feel ways we do not want to feel, we can sometimes turn inward and run away from the pain. Stay present. Let someone know how you feel using a sentence like, “I feel sad when we talk to each other like this.” If it doesn’t go well, take a step back, and try again another time.
3. Avoid the tendency to “run over.”
It might feel like we are solving something to “run over” another person when we don’t like something they are saying or doing.
Taking control of a situation by becoming the loudest, scariest voice in the room means we lose the ability to feel what someone else might, leaving us unable to respond well. When we send the message that we don’t care how another person feels, we are enabling a disconnection of hearts.
Family members will learn they are not allowed to have a voice or an opinion if anger is used to control the environment. It sends the message that the person with the loudest voice has the most power, and no one else has any power. Instead of yelling or using anger, try recognizing when you feel out of control, and give yourself grace to take some time away for a few minutes. Once your emotions settle, it is much easier to have a conversation.
The goal here is not THE PERFECT HOLIDAY. It’s simply making the goal of your time together; CONNECTION.
Using some of these tools will build bridges of connection that can be cultivated over time.
Connection is about driving the fear away, allowing peace and love to come in and rule the culture of our family. The purpose and the power of connection is in the ability to chase away the worst of ourselves and allow the best to stay present to enjoy the relationship.
May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones!
PS) Tell me about your experience in the comments below!
PPS) For more on these practices of connection, we’ve developed comprehensive resources at The Life Academy for any context you find yourself in—relationships, parenting or work. AND when it comes to FAMILY units (and holidays!), we are making Christmas gift cards for the courses that you can put under the tree! Stay tuned for that!