Last year I decided to depart from the standard Thanksgiving-inspired what-are-you-grateful-for theme and wrote an article about facing your "Thanksgiving firing squad." The idea was that many of you go home to families that judge and criticize you -- you're not married? You're still doing that job? You really haven't pulled it together by now?
I suggested that the best armor for this kind of judgment was self-confidence. If you can just accept and love yourself, for who you are, where you are, then you can deflect the criticism. Because then all the judgment in the world won't matter -- you will be proud to stand on your own two feet. You will feel centered and strong. You will show up, eat dinner, and leave, without feeling utterly deflated.
But as I was reading over my words from last year, I realized I forgot the most important piece of the puzzle.
What happens when your worst critic is you? What happens when you carry that kind of judgment around inside of you? For most of us, we don't need to wait until family gatherings to hear this kind of criticism. We have it on repeat in our minds.
You know what I'm talking about. That voice that hangs out up there in your head, editorializing your life (and not in a nice way)?
Beyond the usual day-today things -- I have got to lose some weight, oh my god, my eyebrows are out of control, this dress looks awful me, I really need to put some more makeup on, my hair looks like sh*t today -- this is the voice that rages in frustration when you're not where you were "supposed to be" in life. The one that can't wrap her head around the fact that you're not yet married, or you don't have a "real" job, or you're still living in an apartment with roommates when you, at the very least, planned to be living on your own at 33-years-old, thank you very much.
This is the voice that is pissed off (and very disappointed) that you are not taking her where she expected to go.
So what, then? How do you turn off the noise of your most critical self?
I've read every self-help book under the sun, and the best I can come up with is surrender. Simple, basic surrender. This is where you are. This is now. And as my therapist says, "the only truth is now."
There's no use willing our reality to be different. Regret is a waste of our energy. Time travel isn't possible. And no amount of kicking and screaming can change the past.
But our attitude can certainly change the present.
And so, it only makes sense, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, that I circle back to gratitude.
Gratitude for having this very moment -- for waking up this morning, for the miraculous beating of my heart, for the crunch of my cereal, the sweet text from my sister, the fact that I found a parking spot right in front of the restaurant.
Have some gratitude for getting to start the rest of your life right now. For having the power to make the decisions that feel right to you. For making the best of what you have, and doing your best -- where you are, how you are.
You've probably heard, a million times, this moment is your life. And the thing is, it is. We have no idea what will be -- whether we'll get to wake up tomorrow or live another 50 years.
So squeeze the people who you love, savor the last bite of pumpkin pie, and turn up the volume on right here, right now.