It’s gift giving season. Yeah!!!!! Or not
Part of what I love to coach is how to put recurring tasks and unwanted tasks on autopilot. But, unfortunately what sometimes gets put on autopilot are really meaningful actions we take like gift giving.
One of the things that causes gifts to be put on autopilot is that we are meeting expectations – ours and others. We may have beliefs that we're no longer even conscious of that drive our choices – those voices in our head that run in the background. "She always buys me a gift so I have to buy her one." "He'll be angry if I don't buy the same size gift he does." "They'll think we're cheap." "Everybody gets a gift, that's just what we do." "If I don't buy a gift she'll think I forgot, or worse that I don't like her." "I can't choose the big gift I'd love to give because he/she doesn't have the money to reciprocate and they'll be uncomfortable." "If I don't give a gift I won't get….. a gift, help, love, etc."
When expectations and 'shoulds' are driving our choices we may give a "gift" but it's often wrapped in resentment. Perhaps even passive aggressive behavior. That's not a gift. It's something else entirely: an exchange of expectations, not rocking the boat, or maybe keeping someone else beholden to us, but it's not a gift.
Gifts are meant to be joyful – for both parties. Think about how good it felt the last time you opened the door for a mother with her arms full of kid paraphernalia and a stroller with two tired kids – how grateful she was that someone noticed and cared. That feels good to both parties. When a gift doesn't feel good, there’s something's wrong.
What people really want in a gift is an acknowledgement that they are seen, that they matter. A gift that reacts to a should, that fills a square, or is a simple quid pro quo just doesn't have the juice to do that. It doesn't have any life for either person. If you're going to do that, why waste the money or the effort?
So pay attention to how you feel when when you're making your gift selections. Is this what you really want to give? Break out of the shoulds just long enough to ask, "Would something smaller and more meaningful feel better?" Would a card be more appropriate? Would spending time with them be a better gift? Or would it feel good to just break out of the mold and spoil this person with something that would light up their eyes and fill their heart?
If you dropped the shoulds and the expectations people may wonder what this change means about them.
But if you presented your gift with love, could you live with the other person's reaction?
What's the worst that could happen? What's the best that could happen?
Have a JOYFUL holiday season!