A Therapist’s Guide on How to Survive that Awkward Thanksgiving Dinner

A guest post by Heidi Dennis 

We have all had them- those conversations where your skin suddenly feels all prickly and you instantly feel a divide between you and the person that you are talking to. The ones where you think, “How can you POSSIBLY have that opinion about _________?” The ones that make you want to crawl underneath the table, put your fingers in your ears and start saying “LA, LA, LA, I can’t hear you” (I’m real mature, I know).  It’s as if this one difference in opinion, political stance, cultural view, etc suddenly makes you feel like you have absolutely NOTHING in common with the person sitting across from you.  And it’s even worse when it’s family.  

Are you cringing just thinking about it?  With Thanksgiving coming up, you are BOUND to find yourself in one of those conversations.  So, how do you handle it?  I have a few helpful tips- just follow my step by step guide to….actually, just kidding.  I really only have ONE helpful tip that I believe covers all of the bases.  Here it is: remember their heart.

That’s it.  Remember their heart.  Don’t jump to conclusions that their opinion says more about them than it actually does.  It’s hard not to lump together and stereotype anyone who has a different stance than you.  I get it.  But they are more than who they vote for.  They are more than their take on cultural issues.  You actually probably have more common ground than you realize.  Here’s an easy way to remember their heart- focus on your common ground instead of your differences.  

There is WAY too much division in our climate right now.  And it is highlighted too much, in my humble opinion.  Let’s not have our Thanksgiving tables follow the same pattern.  Look for the common ground.  Try to find something that you are THANKFUL for about them (with some it’s easier than others, but try anyway).  Remember their heart.  Instead of rushing to snap judgements and recoiling, reach across the table.  Lord knows we need more of that these days.

What about you?  Have you found division across your dinner tables?  How have you dealt with it?  Share you tips below or join the conversation at https://m.facebook.com/heidid831/

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