In years past, I’ve given lists of tips on how to deal with family interactions during the holidays. Looking back, it was probably over-kill on advice. Ironically, I realize now that advice-giving is actually a major culprit of conflict, itself. Here’s something new for you in 2015. Let’s not give advice. Sure, it’s tempting. After all, who knows our near and dear better than we do? Why fight the urge to fix our family members? We’re coming from a place of love and wanting to help, riiiight…?
Take a moment to think about how it feels when the tables are turned and someone claims to know what’s best for you. “If you really want a wife, you’re not gonna find her on Tinder.” Or “I hear Cross Fit gets you in great shape in just 30 minutes, 3 times a week. You ought to give that a try!” It’s not a great feeling to get the message that someone thinks you aren’t doing You right. When someone goes in for the fix, there’s an underlying message that you are broken. That’s how it feels to them when we give our 2- er- 10 cents, too.
Just as we cannot “fix” our loved ones, we can’t stop them from trying to “fix” us. We can, however, effect change by modeling better behavior. You know the saying, “You can dish it out, but you can’t take it?” How about embodying something loftier; you can take it but you don’t dish it out.
It’s hard, if not impossible, to stay Buddha calm amongst extended family. They know our weaknesses and we know theirs. Suddenly we’re all transported to our younger selves, and we can unconsciously fall into old patterns while we’re together. Do you automatically adopt the role you had in childhood in the company of your family of origin? It happens to the best of us. Like Ram Dass said, “If you think you’re so enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” It is the ultimate test of inner peace to mix it up with our relatives for hours on end. Yet, as spiritual warriors, we can rise to the occasion and be different this year.
This Thanksgiving, I invite you to join me and take the “Shut-Thyself-Up-Challenge.” When that urge rolls around to say, “Get a real job!” (in a really nice way), gobble a spoonful of yams instead. No one needs to know what we’re up to but us ninjas. You game? You can’t win if you don’t play.
Bonus side-effect: If you go silent on giving advice, you just might get asked for some. When that happens, you can unhinge your jaws and let it fly. Be kind and voila: victory!
Image courtesy of imagery majestic at Freedigitalphotos.net