People are making themselves literally sick over politics and current events, with folks from all sides spewing toxic emotional content and blaming each other.

This is hard enough to deal with on an average day, but at Thanksgiving, a time to feel grateful for all the bounty in our lives, it can be especially distressing and triggering.

It’s easy to get sucked in to family drama because we are so tied to these people—genetically and emotionally. We react so strongly toward them when old grievances get triggered because we feel like we have to defend our position. But do we?

It doesn’t have to be this way! Back away from the turkey baster and give everyone—including yourself—a break.

So, how can you react differently this year? I’m going to you 5 ways to rise above family drama and enjoy a peaceful Thanksgiving for a change:

1 – Check Your Own Attitude at the Door

Check in with yourself to see if YOU are part of the problem. Are you on Defcon 4 before you even ring the doorbell? Are you anticipating a confrontation? If you go in with this kind of attitude, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

First, take a deep breath. Take another one. Then acknowledge that everyone is fighting a hard battle. People often behave the way they do because they feel afraid—of change, of people who aren’t like them, of being judged or disrespected.

Release your own negativity and judgment and embrace a peaceful state of mind.

NOW, ring the doorbell.

2 – Love the haters: How to deal with obnoxious political rants

The first things you need here are patience and tolerance. Remember that everyone has the right to their opinion—even wild Aunt Lulu!

Just because someone says something that triggers you doesn’t mean you have to take the bait! It’s the same as if someone offered you a gift and you choose not to accept it. Decline the “gift” with grace and love and feel the happiness that comes with rejecting negativity.  

If you feel yourself getting triggered, try doing a silent lovingkindness mediation. Say to yourself, “May Aunt Lulu be well. May she be happy. May she be free from suffering.” Repeat this in your mind until you feel peaceful again.

3 – How to Repel Energy Vampires

Energy vampires are people who try to dump their problem on you and suck the life right out of you with their dramas. They feel and act like victims and they want you to feel sorry for them. If you offer advice, they’ll immediately reject it as impossible. You can literally feel them stealing your mojo as they speak!

I have a simple cure for the energy vampires in your life. Say this simple phrase over and over as they drone on about the problems in their life: “Wow. What are you going to do about that?”

Keep saying this like a holy mantra and one of two things will happen: They’ll either stop and think, “Wow. What AM I going to do about that?” OR, if they’re invested in clinging to their problems, they’ll get frustrated with you and walk away. Either way, you’ve stopped them from stealing your life force.

4 – How to Respond to Your Personal MeToo Moment: What to do/say when Mom tries to sit you next to your abuser at Thanksgiving dinner.

You deserve to be validated and protected from abusers in your family, and you don’t need people trying to force you to “make nice” to anyone who makes you feel unsafe. This is the time to summon your inner badass and set clear boundaries.

Calmly but firmly take Mom into the kitchen and tell her you’ll be switching seats. Don’t’ ask. Tell. Then do it.

If you’re not supported and protected by your family, you may need to find others to spend the holiday with. Do what you need to in order to feel protected and supported.

5 – Be an Up-Stander

Don’t bite your tongue when Aunt Lulu goes on a racist rant. Here’s what to say…

“Aunt Lulu, that’s offensive. Please stop saying things like that.”

If she argues with you and tries to justify her rant, say: “I know you believe that, but today is about enjoying family time, so let’s keep it friendly.”

Keep repeating that sentence until she runs out of steam or you are able to get away from her.

Play the “Ism Game”

Here is my favorite tip, one that I used successfully with an opinionated relative last Thanksgiving. It’s called the “ism game.” Here’s what you do:

  1. Get a notepad and pen and keep them handy.
  2. Get a few people in on the game.
  3. Now, every time Aunt Lulu says something mean, inappropriate, or racist, yell “Luluism!” and write it down.

At first, Aunt Lulu may look confused, but as it dawns on her that her inappropriate words are being captured for prosperity, she’ll tone it down. She may go through the five stages of grief first: anger, denial, bargaining, depression and, eventually, acceptance. It’s at this final stage that she’ll finally get quiet.

It’s REALLY important to make this a light, fun, loving exercise. Don’t do it with vindictiveness or you lose the battle. Do it instead with love.

When All Else Fails

When all else fails, just send your relatives love. Bathe them in love. Drown them in it. You will end the day feeling genuinely grateful that you kept an open heart and mind, and that you didn’t let the turkeys bring you down!

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