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Who do you want to be?
Thanksgiving is next week, and we often spend time with relatives with whom we don’t live.
When we interact with people from our past, they often treat us like we are still the person we used to be. Sometimes their impression of us is decades out-of-date, e.g., “Do you still like dinosaurs?”
We can be annoyed or frustrated by this, or we can take some time before we reconnect to think about who we are now, and how that person can build relationships with the people THEY are now.
And don’t assume they haven’t changed, either. Ask them about their lives and interests now. Share some of your life and current interests. Consider the person you want to BE when interacting with your extended family and in-laws—NOT a fake version of yourself, but the BEST version of your “self with extended family.” Is that facet of you (on a good day) patient? Affectionate? A good listener? Tolerant of other people’s social and political opinions… or at least able to steer those conversations to safer ground before a big fight occurs? The go-to person for getting modern technology to work? The fun aunt or uncle? Helpful? The organizer? The peacemaker?
Focus on being the best version of who you want to be in that extended family role. Have a vision for a pleasant Thanksgiving, and work to make that happen.
This is a specific, once-a-year opportunity, but these skills can be used in every facet of our lives. We can work to be the best authentic version of ourselves with our spouse/partner, our kids, our coworkers, our clients, our friends, our community… everywhere. And it’s not always the same “self.” We might be a sweeter, quieter version of ourselves with our 93-year-old grandma than with our old college buddies, and we are still authentically ourselves. But when we recognize which parts of us are the best fit with specific people, we have more effective interactions with less conflict. It makes life better.
Good luck next week!