You know you have a friend who knows and trusts you when you ask about Thanksgiving and they respond,
“My grandmother got drunk and fell down the stairs.”
What keeps us from sharing the truth with people? Why, when most of us are asked, do we say, “It was great!” Or “I love Thanksgiving!” Even when that isn’t actually true?
Or maybe you say,
“It sucked. COVID sucks. I hate turkey.”
It’s all paradox right? Some of us want to be with people who lift us up. Some of us want to be with people who can join us in our emotional realness. But all of us want to be with people who are real and neither of these perspectives offer the whole truth.
How do we get that?
When someone asks you about your holiday, do you immediately wonder,
“What will they think if I tell them?”
Or, in my case, I ask myself,
“What do they actually want to know?”
Curating my response has become a habit. I think about what they really want to know and then I give it to them. Because my quick mind can do some mental gymnastics pretty darn quickly and it always comes out in a way that they feel satisfied with my answer and I stop being caught up in whether I answered the question “the right way.”
But what if I didn’t do that?
What if I didn’t have the thought, “They aren’t really interested.”
What if you didn’t think, “They’ll judge me!”
What would be true then?
I’ll tell you.
Without the thought that they are just making conversation, I’d tell them the truth. I’d take a breath. I’d go within and wait for an answer to rise up. It might look like this:
“You know, it was a really different year. I missed the high school football game and the energy of my extended family, but I really loved hanging out in my PJs, watching the parade, and smelling the turkey all day. Dinner was a loud shit show, but that’s how we are when we are together so I guess that it was like any other dinner that way.”
When we layer a bunch of thoughts on top of the truth, we get confused as to what is actually true. When we jump out of the moment and into the future when (in our made up story) the person is judging us for our Thanksgiving, we fake it. We put a story on top of the truth so that it isn’t quite a lie, but it is a curated response.
We aren’t in relationship with one another.
We are in relationship with each other’s stories.
If we want to be living life wide awake, we need to start shedding the stories and get at the truth. Presence allows us to do that. A quick breath. A turning inward to check in.
An intelligent response comes from all three centers: our bellies, our open hearts, and our quiet minds.
Here is what happened. This is how it felt. This is what I think. The End.
Genuine, intelligent, real; a quality response to the question.
So on Friday, when someone asks you how your Thanksgiving was, you might answer,
“My grandmother got drunk and fell down the stairs. We laughed away our fears when she stood up and joined us at the table. So I guess it was like any other family dinner that way.”
Enjoy the holiday, however you spend it, and feel free to share how it went.