Did You Complain or Gossip During Thanksgiving?

Posted on November 29, 2017

“Arghh… I’m dreading seeing my in-law. Wish I could outlaw her from our family!”

“My sister is hosting Thanksgiving, but I’m making six dishes! How did that happen?”

“My mom declared it’s her turn to host Thanksgiving, but the new rule is that we all must bring one dish. How come this rule didn’t apply when I hosted last year?”

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, social media was brimming with resentful emotions—all stemming from grievances during a time that’s supposed to be about celebrating family. How did we get here? Why have we lost sight of the purpose of this holiday? Why are we celebrating “Thanksgiving” with our families if we don’t have an attitude of gratitude?

Our kids are watching. And we all know that kids are great emulators. So give them something worthwhile to emulate. Here are some perspective-shifters that will help us approach the next holiday with a different mind-set while setting some great examples for our kids.

1. Let it go. Whatever your “it” is—past incidents, resentments, grievances, and complaints—dispense with it. It’s time to grow up. We can’t commit to raise our kids when we are not willing to grow up ourselves. Life is short, and we all know that we do not and cannot pick our family. They have entered our life to help us grow. Those who challenge us are as important as those who exemplify compassion, love, and respect. The bigger issue is how to respond. Put your feelings in check. If you can have a conversation with someone about a past issue, do so. If not, let it go. It is neither our job nor responsibility to confront others. Our only responsibility is to manage ourselves. This can easily be done if we…

2. Accept the other as they are and the situation as it is. What keeps this from being our first response is our own expectations of how someone should be or act. If we don’t like how something went or what someone said, we explode in a tornado of resistance: How dare he? Why did she? Who do they think they are? These reactions stem from our not accepting the other person or the situation. Life will never match our expectations. We know that. If it did, how would we grow?

Truly, all we need to do is give up our own illusory expectations so we don’t make ourselves miserable. This can be hard sometimes. So allow the negative feelings to exit your thoughts, emotions and your physical body. If you sit with them in quiet, within 90 seconds they will actually leave your body. In her memorable TED Talk, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor describes the 90-second rule: “Once triggered, the chemical released by my brain surges through my body, and I have a physiological experience. Within 90 seconds from the initial trigger, the chemical component of my anger has completely dissipated from my blood, and my automatic response is over. If, however, I remain angry after those 90 seconds have passed, then it is because I have chosen to let that circuit continue to run.”

So once the emotion flushes out, consciously choose not to hit repeat. If you are having trouble with this, look deeper and identify your trigger. Chances are that it is some past unmet need or unresolved personal experience that is sparking this repeated response. Now sit and let it work through your system. A mandatory step is to…

3. Bypass the complaining and the gossip. Both of these detrimental habits stem from judgment. Larry Senn, the best-selling author of Up the Mood Elevator, Living Life at Your Best, places judgment at the bottom of our mood elevator. Complaining and gossiping only spirals our mood and our attitude further downward. Who needs to live in a downward spiral when an upward spiral can be achieved by simply choosing not to complain or gossip? Yes, there is value in expressing your emotions when we are disturbed. If that’s the case, and you are truly sharing your feelings instead of judging someone else, find an intelligent, emotionally balanced friend who can be your sounding board. And, please, if you do express your discontent, refrain from doing so on social media.

We have one life to live. Living it well is a choice. To help us grow, life is supposed to throw curveballs, and often they take the form of our family members! Holiday madness is the time to put into practice everything you have learned about personal growth throughout the year. Be smart, and choose your responses wisely to make for a joyful life worth living and sharing. And, of course, remember that your kids are watching!