This Thanksgiving you will likely be with family and/or friends to enjoy a meal.  When you do there will probably be a conversation.  If your tribe is able to talk about politics or world issues there may be strong feelings expressed if you are brave enough to go into that conversational hotbox.

If the tough stuff comes up, I invite you to modulate the tendency to defend your position–to engage and not let your reptilian brain run the show?  How do we do that?  A daily inner practice of meditation and breathing can help.  A natural gift for facilitation can help.   Mediation training won’t hurt. And here is one more idea: choose a new role in the conversation.

This is possible to do.  I’ve done it, at least once.  If you are the one who tells a lot of stories then decide to listen more.  If you tend to be a listener then speak up more.   Tell a family ally you intend to do this and enlist their support.  I changed roles once at a Thanksgiving party and it was really fun.  This role change was based in the belief that in a given group of people there is only so much space for a certain role.  The role I was about to take on was the “card tyrant”.

We like to play cards in my family.  One person frequently takes on the task of being the one who keeps things on track and somewhat serious.  I think you know this role.  They want to keep the game moving, they do not like distractions.  They make comments to keep the group focused.  At times their tone is harsh.  This can, at times, be irritating to some.  My idea of any card game or board game is they are meant to be fun and are best when people are laughing loudly.  So one time I decided to be the tyrant, as an experiment.  I made a choice to be very strict and made several comments when people were not bidding quick enough or getting distracted.  After the third or fourth comment I made, in my most serious sounding voice, the one who usually has the “card tyrant” role said to me “Tom, relax, it’s just a game.”  I said ok, and backed down from that role: breakthrough!  Plus, to my surprise, I secretly enjoyed being so serious.

I am grateful for all the serious and playful support I’ve received from so many of you this year.  I have just loved working in the “tough guy” and “tough woman” cultures. May this note you find you choosing gratitude and being a source of love and unity this Thanksgiving.

And if you do a conversational experiment this Thanksgiving please check in with me and let me know how it went.

Giving thanks,  Tom Esch