Advice for Thanksgiving…

Nov 23, 2016

Hello there,

I wish you all well as we enter the holiday season. I hope your time is joyful and fun.

And I continue to hold you all in my heart since the US presidential elections, both in the US and around the world. Whatever your politics and beliefs, the outcome of this election will impact us all around the world, on many levels and at different times.

Many of you have been getting in touch to ask me for advice on how to deal with spending Thanksgiving with family and friends who voted differently than you, or hold opposing views about politics. Many have been worried about charged emotions, reactivity and even fear  Others are concerned with the possible conversations that could escalate into arguments.

And to my readers outside of the US, as we enter the holiday season, I know many of you have similar concerns with how current events are playing out in your countries, as well as how the outcome of this US election will impact the world.

I thought it might be helpful to offer some tips. Since everyone’s experience is unique, I can only be general. I hope this is helpful:

1) Set boundaries: You have every right to respectfully say that you don’t want to have any conversations about politics and that you will respectfully step away if a conversation starts. If you are feeling confident enough to engage in conversations, there is another way to set boundaries. Make it clear, in a respectful way, that you are willing to discuss politics, but only if the conversation stays respectful and if everyone involved is willing to listen with an open heart. If that is not agreed upon, then make it clear that you will be dismissing yourself when those conversations begin. For those of you who have experienced the Respectful Confrontation work, review your notes, or the Mastering Respectful Confrontation book, on how to set boundaries, as well as the section on the different types of “no”.

2) Be curious: Be selective with your own words, practice silence and deepen your listening skills. Unless asked, this might not be the best time for others to hear your viewpoints, so soon after the election – no matter who you voted for. If you truly listen to what others have to say, you may learn something new or receive information you didn’t have previously that might help you find common ground and peace at this time.

3) Love and compassion: If the people you will be spending time with are family or friends, remember how they have loved you and how you have loved them. Whether your candidate won or lost, hold your family and friends in their highest.

4) Daily practice: Be sure to find time to do the things that empower you and bring you balance and peace. The Core Exercise could help you stay present and centered. Elephant walking can keep you grounded. Again, review the book and your notes for a refresher if you are not doing these exercises on a regular basis. And certainly do practices that currently work for you – meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, etc.

5) Contact your support network: Perhaps you can arrange with 3 of your trusting friends that if you need them, they will be close to the phone to help you ground and find balance. Offer to be a support to your friends as well.

6) Humor: Use your Pillar of Flexibility and Respectful Defense, and see if you can keep things light. Human beings – all of us – are pretty funny creatures. Humor is a great way to diffuse tension and reactive behavior and still stay engaged.

These are just a few ideas. Perhaps you have others? I’d love to hear about them.

This may sound a bit alarmist to offer ways to feel safe and comfortable with people who are friends and family. I’ve written often about how unfortunate it is that we have become so polarized. These are significant times we are in, both here in the US and around the world. We are presented with both challenges AND opportunities for growth. Our practice of mindfulness, respect, wisdom, compassion and understanding, and a commitment to peace and justice, is essential – now more than ever.

Wishing you peace, inner strength and compassion with yourself and others.

From the heart!

Joe

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