My daughter Zoe came into my office last night gleefully explaining how a classmate had been punished for doing something she, and most people, considered to be very offensive. In an effort to suggest a more enlightened approach, I reminded her that it was not her job to judge this young man no matter how offensive his behavior. Her response was classic:
“Well,” she said, “it may not be my job, but people can have hobbies...”
Clearly, the enlightened path is going to remain the road less traveled a bit longer.
The irony is that I’ve found myself in judging situations and getting my buttons pushed this entire e̶l̶e̶c̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ week and I, too, have not managed to get myself on the road less traveled.
Our personal buttons can get pushed, punched, or jack-hammered depending on the topic being discussed. The nearer the holidays and relatives become, the more our “loved ones” can get dangerously close to our trigger button.
While alcohol definitely works to ease the trigger point, it isn’t always the best choice for many reasons. The calories are empty, the hangover is massive, slurring is embarrassing, and you are still responsible for the things you said and did while drunk.
So here are some other options:
Detach – yep, when your Aunt Nellie starts complaining about her health issues pretend everything around you is in a movie and you are merely the observer. Make yourself some popcorn, grab a seat on the sofa, and amuse yourself by pondering important questions like, “Is this a horror movie or comedy?” “What famous actor would be perfect for playing my creepy uncle?” You also can come up with pithy monologues or pretend the cat can talk. Maybe the cat can give the pithy monologue. The possibilities for amusing yourself and not getting your buttons pushed are endless because you are not really there.
Divert - Sometimes we can see the button pushing/judgy stuff coming from a mile away. When you know it is racing down the pipe you can work to quickly change the topic. It is best not to divert the diatribe Uncle Joe is having on the recent election by asking him his opinion on God’s preferred political affiliation. Instead, ask about his favorite fishing lures, pudding flavors, or dog breeds. Really, though, most people love to talk about their pets so it is a good “go-to” diversion technique.
Jump ship – Most Thanksgiving cooks are short at least one ingredient. Out of the goodness of your heart, consider volunteering to run to the grocery store. Grocery stores are filled with endless aisles of products with labels to read. Plus, they are usually piping in some type of awesome 80’s Muzak you can jam to.
Make yourself Center of the Universe – No one likes to be around people who talk about themselves, their vacations, their work, or their problems all the time. If you are trying to engage in minimal contact talk loudly about yourself to anyone who approaches you. You will be very alone very soon.
Go all in – Decide what kind of experience you want to have prior to walking in the door. For example, if it is within your emotional reach, try “this is going to be the best Thanksgiving ever!” Then look for evidence to back your position and ignore everything else. This technique is incredibly powerful for just about anything.
So, what kind of Thanksgiving do you want to have? (Remember, you have the magical power to create anything in life you want.)