We all have our different Thanksgiving traditions, but if there is one thing that binds us all it’s the challenges we will likely face when the family sits down to dinner.
There’s a good chance emotions and issues will arise following our contentious presidential election, so we spoke with clinical psychologist Dr. Tyler Fortman about some strategies for making the best of it:
1. Think it through
Go into the holiday with some idea of what you want to get out of it. A pleasant meal, or an intense conversation? You have the power to choose, which leads us to-
It may seem harsh, but spending Thanksgiving separate from people you know you’re going to have clashes with can be understandable. But it's not an option for everyone.
3. Speak up at the start - or end up frustrated in the end
If you want to participate in the conversation at all, be assertive on the front end or you might end up feeling insulted later when you're left out.
4. Plead the 5th
Biting your tongue is an option (again, remember to think what you want out of Thanksgiving), and it's even easier to do when there's plenty of good food. Excuse yourself from conversations you’re not comfortable in or ask friends/family to table discussion.
5. Accept you may never agree
If you do engage in discussions, realize you may never reach an agreement with someone with a different set of beliefs, especially when it comes to value-based topics like politics or religion. It doesn’t mean you have to avoid it, or it’s the end of the world because there’s a disagreement.
6. Listening is key to keeping the peace
Remember: listening to another person is not providing affirmation to their point, or saying that you think they right, but it does show you hear them. Most people just want to be heard.
7. Realize acceptance and approval are very different
You can have different values than loved ones and still maintain close bonds. After all, you can pick your battles, but you can't pick your family.