The Wow Factor. Tips for Gift Giving Anxiety.

Expectations. Disappointments. Gratitude. Human thoughts, emotions, behaviors.

Here are some common scenarios you have likely had in your life.

Childhood- While we all have different frames of reference whether that be literal, or through cultural influences (thanks “ish” media...abundance- a true thanks is expressed to having such abundance but greed elicited by that abundance --no thanks) either way we got excited when we saw that wow factor on Christmas morning. To whatever extent that is, to whatever depth the presents flowed or to the size of the packages, underneath, hiding in, exploding out of and around the tree and living room. SAAAAAANTA Came!!! RIGHT?

Parent(s) who crafted or created the illusion of a “big” Christmas by putting things in bigger boxes, balancing the “small, under $ __ amount” gifts with the “bigger, over $__ amount” gifts

You as a youngster may have been mildly disappointed when opening a BIG box with something physically small inside, even if it was expensive, but you may not have voiced it or understood it even, perhaps you did voice it (which, well, to be honest, we all probably did at some point- right?) or we wore the look on our faces or in our body language, pouting, our poor attitudes even if our respect and manners kept our verbal outbursts at bay but we certainly, in some regard, at some point, have experienced disappointment after opening presents. *Ugh...clothes...thanks a heap coyote ugly* With that said, I have struggled with this even when I lived alone, there is a part of me that wants that same visual appeal.

As adults, we do the same thing! “ugh...thanks for this CANDLE inside a box that indicates a MOTORCYCLE should reside in it …” followed by an out loud “Awe, I love it...” (right??)

Then there are gift exchange traditions. (Love/ hate relationship? Goal- All Love. All the Time.)

More women than men exchange gifts as friends. When they do- immediately insecurity creeps in, we make efforts to lower ones expectations- so somehow they...feel less special.. ??...YES.. I said less special, but it's true, right? We contradict the gift itself (that has the purpose of making a person feel special.)

You go out to dinner with your friend. You sit down, your gift next to you on the booth. She arrives, and she has her gift for you in her hand, rushing, she sits down across from you in the booth. Cold air wafting in behind her.

She proclaims “It’s just from X store and I didn’t wrap it” or

You both race out to the car after work, freezing and you say, “I got gifts for you and the manager, but not for all of the office staff, its just a few things” you send a box to your friend in another state all the while thinking “it’s not as thoughtful as I had hoped, why did I wait so long?)

BEFORE the person even lays eyes on the gift, sits down at the dinner table gets to her car, before the box is even in the mail!! and we do it to OURSELVES. When NO MATTER WHAT is inside the gift, your friend/coworker THOUGHT of YOU, and You- them. Time was spent on the gifts. Love was spent. Whether your 20 or 50 years old- I venture a bet that you have experienced this sort of anxiety, or still are. You may be in the same place in life or maybe your not, maybe your 20 and your friend or coworker is 50 and so fear of money spent unequally consumes you.

Here’s the kicker!

Now this translates into other areas of life. A friend reviews your newly developed blog page, on your newly developed website. You might say “Its still in progress, or it’s my first post” BEFORE the person even gets out of their seat to come to the computer. Attempting to lower their expectations of your efforts, underrate and underwhelm your abilities. Which are usually PHENOMENAL and should be wildly celebrated!! As should your time spent with your friends, your time on your projects, so it’s bewildering to me how frequently we as humans do this. It's a multitude of reasoning behind why we do it, and to understand a tiny tidbit of that, vulnerability, insecurity, reward systems, all come into play, but not limited to those things. We may hope to lower their expectations so that they are more impressed, or even if not truly, their reaction is more "rewarding" or prepare ourselves and them to soften their disappointing reactions because we are trying to protect ourselves from feeling negative ("yep, I knew it, it sucks"yet- as you can see, we do enough negative self talk, why would we need anyone else to do it for us?)

Often these anxieties or worries begin at the start of the holiday season, or months before their birthdays. These feelings and negative self talk can literally stop people from starting their own company that could change the world. I mean it. It all starts prior to you even starting the real FUN process of shopping, searching, creating, being inspired! So that you can make people feel loved, special, thought of.

Here’s the thing that will change your life, the way you feel, think, speak and act. The way you receive and give (without guilt or anxiety).

Gratitude. Be present. In the moment- appreciate the thought and the gesture, be open to offering the other person the space to feel and experience the same level of appreciation, thanks, enjoyment of the gift, or the gift of your time in the moment SANS GIFTS! The gift of being together. Be kind and gentle with yourself, those you surround yourself with and those whom you give gifts to. Even if your friend is reviewing a project you're working on. Be grateful for every input they have - why try to curtail their experience, thoughts, whatever that occurs when they review or as simple as look at a new craft your making?

If we bring cookies to a gathering and immediately say “well, they aren’t homemade” instead of letting the gesturing being as it is- the fact that you brought cookies despite where they originated from- what is that saying?? (I had this very notion this past month.)

In any case I am not one to just say “do this/don’t do that” this you will see in time, how my life's work has unfolded with that being a driving force (what are the steps to this particular thing you are saying?? I.e. changing behavior/thoughts/emotions/responses) to actually yield results that change lives.

Here’s the challenge- and you aren’t alone, I am doing this very practice.

Step One: Take notice of when you partake in these behaviors. How many gifts did I buy, am I worried about the price or quantity, am I underselling myself and my efforts in any way shape or form, am I accepting of the compliments for a speech made?

Step Two: Be in that space, be mindful, observant, take a moment, a breath, 10 breaths. Give yourself a chance to experience it intuitively. Choose to separate your ego for that moment and operate from a place deeper than that. Recognize the uncomfortable feeling you may have and be silent. Be grateful that you have the choice, to be there, to make a purchase, to receive a gift (even if you made a new friend and they got you a gift and you didn't get them one- that is OKAY- it is not the end of the world), be grateful you have the ability and resources to create a service or product. Be conscious of your web (emotions, thoughts, behaviors) that make up any given situation. While it may seem easier to “opt out” explain yourself, defend yourself, because that is what we are really doing- even if there is no real need for the reasoning, as I said there hasn’t even been a reaction most times before we start spilling out egotistical defenses. Instead, turn within and observe what is happening from your head, throat, chest, heart, gut, to your toes. Are you at peace? Are you tense? That is how you check your system and compare it to your true values. Is there really a right and wrong here? If you feel like your in the wrong, I would suggest that your experience isn't in alignment with what truly matters. That is the feeling we get, that we need to punish ourselves for this “wrong” doing, the wrapping isn’t right, the sizes are all wrong, there isn’t a card attached with a 2 page reflection on our friendship inside, the list goes on. When everything that is happening is exactly right.

Step 3: Reflect on your value system. Does the way I feel right now (anxiety, fear, worry) align with what truly matters most in my life? What do I value? Love, growth, commitment, enjoying the company of my friend/ family, bonding/connection, enjoying the process of creating something from “nothing”. Have I taken the time to discover what my values are. What the principles for how I lead and show up in my life are, how I respond and receive what occurs in my life? What I create in life?

Step 4: Breathe. Giving yourself credit, much due credit for doing this process. This is huge! You are living consciously. In this moment. You are living inspired. You are making a choice. Life is full of paradoxical moments that simply is. You are here, just be here. Make the choice to be here. Breathe. Be silent, be within, be with them, connect. Appreciate the opportunity you have in front of you, to grow, to be in this moment in the world. This is a practice. Which we all know what that means (continue doing it). This is your chance to practice leading your life from a place of wisdom, and calm.

Step 5: Realign accordingly, your thoughts, speech, and actions. "Thank you, you're welcome." It can be that simple. You can even say internally "thank you, and you're welcome." Be kind to yourself just as you are to those you love. The world will also thank you for it.