Thanksgiving Talk: When Questions Lead To Spirals
Updated: Oct 31, 2022
Last week was the official holiday mark with Thanksgiving’s arrival! If you celebrate, happy belated Thanksgiving. If not, I hope you got a break from work or school and recharged a bit. Whether you celebrate or not, I hope you were able to gobble down some goodies!
Many of us spend Thanksgiving with family and friends and too many of us deal with THE questions.
Are you dating anyone? Are you still going to the gym? Oh, you’re still at that job? How’s school going?
If your answer to these questions are not how you planned on them being the last time they were asked at a holiday gathering, or you just think what is happening in your life simply isn’t up to your hopeful standards, trust me, we’ve all sadly been there. However, instead of saying, “No, grandma, I’m not dating anyone, and you should really stop asking me,” you say, “Still single,” with a forced smile that leads into awkward silence and grandma ranting about how you’re “such a catch.” Thanks, grandma.
If you couldn’t already tell, I know this experience all too well.
While these questions are seemingly harmless ways to learn about what’s going on in someone’s life, they sometimes initiate a spiral. This spiral consists of ruminating thoughts and negative self-talk. For example, these spirals might sound something like “Why am I still single? What am I doing? Grandma asked about the gym too, have I gained weight and that’s why I’m not finding anyone? What’s wrong with me?”
Too often during sessions, a client will explain a situation like Thanksgiving talk and the story is wrapped up with this quick and almost automatic question—what’s wrong with me? Well, nothing is wrong with you.
Seriously, nothing is wrong with you.
Even the slightest thought that something is wrong is a terrible burden to carry and completely dissatisfying. In addition to this, this type of negative self-talk can be crippling. I’m a huge believer in self-fulfilling prophecies. If you think something is wrong with you, this thought will eventually translate into something actually being "wrong," or undesirable, and remain that way. Optimistic thinking has some power to it.
Therefore, I challenge you to challenge this thinking. Instead of wondering what’s wrong, wonder about change. Better yet, initiate change. How would you like to answer these Thanksgiving questions? What would be the most ideal and satisfying response each year? Maybe it is practicing boundaries by telling grandma to stop asking about your love life, or maybe it’s being able to say, “Oh, I’ve dated here and there.” Find the most authentic response that truly makes you proud and happy to share with everyone and anyone. Then work towards that fulfilled version of yourself.
Make grandma happy she was a little nosey and make yourself happy that you accomplished something that you previously thought was wrong.