Doctor Neha: Hi, everybody. I’m excited about our topic today. I’ve been learning a lot about giving and receiving, not just in gifts, but also in energy and connection. I started embarking on the dating world, which is another game when you’re in your forties, but the beauty of the dating world is that a partnership and romance illuminates my flaws pretty clearly—especially in giving and receiving.
So let’s talk about giving and receiving gifts. There’s an art to all of this. I would say that I consider myself a decent gift giver. I put thought into it. I think about the person I’m giving a gift to, what they value, what would be important, but most of all, what would create an emotional connection or move someone emotionally and move me as the gift giver. When I’m excited to give something to someone, it always tells me that it’s from my heart.
I noticed that with gifts, the closer people get to my heart, the more judging I can be. For my birthday, my partner wrote a card that said “Having a great time with you. Hope today’s amazing, and hope the rest of our time together is great. I love you.” And I noticed myself not being that emotionally moved by engaging on a level of logistics, which is how I interpreted it. Then since I wasn’t emotionally moved, I found myself wondering how much this person really cares about me. I started doubting our connection just because of the card. I also started comparing in my head: “Hey, didn’t you see in the card I gave you how meaningful and deep and connected I was? How I talked about all these memories and the things I like about you? So how come I didn’t get to hear that from you?”
My first level of learning was noticing that I expected something other than what I got and I allowed myself to be disappointed because of it—lesson number one. Then when the gift was given, which was this amazing weekend getaway, I responded with “Where is this place?”
And I must not have sounded too enthused because what came back at me was, “You don’t sound really excited about this gift.”
I said, “Well, I’m trying to understand what it is and why you chose this for me.” What I later realized is that I judge other people’s gift giving. There I was judging a gift because I didn’t understand what it was or I didn’t have an emotional attachment to the place. I started questioning, the motives: “Is this just something fun you want to do and you’re going to take me along for the ride?” I didn’t quite get it. Well, let me tell you, I went on that weekend experience, and it was incredible. It was an experience I would have never chosen for myself. But in the beginning I was a little surprised, didn’t understand the gift and my heart was not open enough to receive that which the other person was giving to me.
This situation got me thinking about connection and how we attach expectations to the gifts that other people give us. Some people think a gift is better if it’s a surprise. Other people think a gift is best if it’s handmade or if it’s unique and special. Or if somebody gets us clothes, there’s the whole idea of wondering about how they determined what size to get: “Oh, they got me a size eight. Do they really think that I’m a size eight when I’m a four? And what does that mean about what you think of me?”
I’ve been noticing all the ways that we can let something that someone is giving from their heart in a physical form actually divide us rather than connect us—and what a mistake that would be. So around the holidays, whatever holiday you celebrate or if it’s the New Year that you’re bringing in, pay attention to how open your heart is to receiving.
Now what I realize is that if somebody gets me something, I don’t need to judge whether they were sincere or whether they thought carefully about it. Why am I not open to the differences and the new experiences that another person is generously giving me? I should be excited, curious and grateful.
So with the card situation, it’s like I think there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. But that’s not true! That person has a way of showing affection, care and love that’s simply different than I would.
It’s the same with a gift. What would it be like to graciously receive? I realized too that in the gift-giving arena, I’m the one in control. But in the gift-receiving arena, I need to have openness and surrender to receiving whatever it is that someone would like to share with me.
Are you better at giving gifts or receiving them? How have you had an experience similar to mine? And do you ever get nervous that you might not be giving the right gift to someone or that it might create some distance between you rather than connection? I’d love to hear your comments. I also want to wish you happy gift giving, whether it’s the holidays, your birthday, Valentine’s Day, your wedding, or any special occasion. I hope that this was helpful and would love to hear your thoughts. And until next time.
The Gift of Self-Reflection
Are you better at gift giving or receiving? Why?
What meaning do you attach to gifts?
Do you try to control (drop hints, etc.) or manage the gifts you receive?
If you are interested in creating more joy around gift exchanges, assume positive intention and appreciate the energy the other person has invested in this gesture.
If you allowed yourself to be delighted and open to what might come your way today, would that expand your ability to receive?