THANKS FOR LIVING
“Forever on Thanksgiving Day, the heart will find the Pathway home.”
-Wilbur D. Nesbit
Twenty four days left till Thanksgiving, and some of you might have the ‘f’ word on your minds…family. We can all relate to the swarm of Thanksgiving movies that are released during this time of year, portraying the quirks and quagmires of the dysfunctional family. The scenarios are basically the same. No matter what one has accomplished in the years away from home, when they set foot back into the home they grew up in, they are instantly reified. This is a word I fell in love with several years ago, reification. In this context, it means that even if you’ve morphed into Einstein, your family will see you as little Johnny or Suzy afraid of the dark and a pain in the neck at bedtime. They can’t see your accomplishments, growth or maturity, or how you have somehow managed to conquer your fear of the dark. It’s as if the family’s reactions are frozen back in time even though you are now 22, 37 or 65. It can feel frustrating when time has no meaning within the family of origin.
In addition to reification, one can also feel a tremendous loss when talents are painfully overlooked and unacknowledged in the swirl of parental expectations. I’ll never forget reading an article about Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Wendy Wasserstein (The Heidi Chronicles). When the journalist asked Ms. Wasserstein’s Mother what she thought of her daughter’s Pulitzer Prize, she said something to the tune of it was nice, but it would be nicer if she had a husband. How lucky for us that Ms. Wasserstein had the fortitude to make expressing her art a priority over her Mother’s expectations. In fact Ms. Wasserstein transformed her family dynamics into wonderfully rich plays rather than allowing them to create her demise. You can read an amusing article in which she describes the crazy antics of her family and especially her Mother here.
Messages we receive from our families can remain with us long after we’ve left home. They can surface unconsciously as negative self-talk. Have statements such as, I am not important, I am not smart, I am not worthy, I don’t have talent, looks, brains, a beautiful body, etc., crept into your mind through the years? Are you aware of your negative self-talk? Are you aware of how these seeds of negative messages got planted? What have these seeds sprouted into today? By answering these questions, unhealthy patterns can be recognized and transformed into healthy expressions of your personality. Self-understanding can free you from unwanted generational sorrows that have been passed down to you; unlived lives and disappointments that you may be carrying around for others. One evening during one of my groups, I passed around a wastebasket and told each person to throw away whatever it was that they felt they didn’t want to carry around anymore. It didn’t take long for each group member to name what it was they wanted to get rid of (i.e. self-doubt, fear, envy). When they left that evening, each member said how just naming it and symbolically putting it in the trash made them feel much lighter. Cultivating an awareness of what you are carrying allows you the freedom to choose whether or not you want to grin and bear it or lighten your load. Self-awareness can lead you to self-understanding’s door and when that opens, you enter the realm of choice, when you begin to choose, you arrive at the home of empowerment. Notice the welcome mat on the floor? Welcome Home You Wonderful Person You!
With a little thought ahead, you can
create a different experience this Thanksgiving. Here are some ingredients to manifest a more satisfying Thanksgiving.
- Be thankful for who you are. Give thanks for being you, with all of your perfect imperfections. Appreciate your unique personality; there is no one else in the Universe just like you.
- If past Thanksgivings around family have been difficult for you, don’t expect your hungry inner child to be fed this year at Thanksgiving, this will only set you up for the same old disappointments. Recognize your needs and how you can realistically get them filled. Having realistic expectations can free you up to make positive choices for yourself.
- Can you accept the family that you have and let go of the family that you want? Pull back the energy that you have been exerting in trying to change them and relax into seeing them for who they are. Observe the situation without getting involved in trying to change it.
- Focus on gratitude. Start with the simplest of acknowledgements, just being alive. The Chilean miners appreciated being able to breathe the fresh air, see the sky above and be reunited with their loved ones. Don’t wait till these givens are taken away from you to appreciate their presence in your lives.
- Gratitude creates appreciation. When you appreciate all the treasures in your life, you are a prosperous person. You have created your wealth and it can’t be taken away by inflation or a recession.
I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving, and want to thank you for reading my column and sending me all those wonderful emails of support and gratitude.
We can only be said to be alive in those moments
when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
Good luck on your wonderful journey.
For further information on self-discovery, please visit my website.
Bonnie Katz is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice. One of her specialties is working with artists in the Entertainment Industry. Her skills and training as a psychotherapist and mindful meditator enable her to work with clients in an atmosphere of warmth and understanding. For more information on Bonnie’s psychotherapy practice,visit her website.Follow her on Twitter and Facebook
Conscious Actor articles are not a substitution for professional psychotherapy.