The Gift We Give Ourselves

At this time of year we may feel pressure to shop for the holidays and meet the expectations of gift-giving. What is this process like for YOU?

Is it joyous? Do you feel put upon? Does it come easy for you or is there resistance? There truly is no preference to how you answer these questions because we are all different and will respond differently to the gift-giving process itself. The act of giving gifts is another portal to deeper awareness about ourselves.

My new gift giving video- A gift you give yourself

When you think about giving a gift is there an “I have to. I should.” lurking there? Or is there a genuine glee around it? Do you have an expectation around the response the person may have to the gift you give them? I giggle to myself because I can resonate with all these questions. I am not just one way or another. Each occasion of gift-giving presents its own gifts if I care to dive in and explore.

As a Two on the Enneagram model, my ego structure and its adaptive motivations have made gift-giving easy and second nature to me. Since I was a very little girl, I collect data about the people around me, listening for the needs I hear them express, or comments they make on things they love. That song from The Sound of Music – ‘These are a few of my favorite things’ could have been one of my theme songs as it applied to listening to others and the things they cared about. Gift-giving became a way for me to acknowledge that I actually was looking and listening to those around me, was present with them. The Presence part led to the Presents part.

Many people in the Enneagram world peg the Twos as the Giver but they link it to Giving to Get. There is an implicit suggestion that there is a hook in the giving. As we explore the Enneagram model with its many masks and secrets, I would feel safe to say that everyone, in their own way, gives or doesn’t give to get something.

For the Head types it may be to receive back a sense of security and that they belong.  For the Heart types, it may reaffirm their own value as sensitive and caring and generous people. For Body types it may be a sense of being important and empowered and able to take care of others. Though the Enneagram model gives us a point of departure to examine these motivations, if we care to, we all might agree we have a mix of many things going on at once; all these motivations suggest ways we can know ourselves better. For many of us, giving a thoughtful gift just simply makes us feel good, and we don’t need to know why.

In my new book, ACTING LESSONS FOR LIVING, we look deeply at intention and motivation and explore how we can modulate around our disappointments by declaring our intentions as truly “the gift we must give ourselves,” irrespective of the external outcome or reactions of others. That way, if things don’t go as we plan regarding how others respond, we can hold to our own gift to ourselves. This softens disappointment and resentment, and empowers us. I can say that this is a life long learning for me, one I must practice each day. This is akin to the exploration of the positive qualities of a shadow of mine, selfishness, which I explored in my last blog.

At the beginning of each workshop I offer, I ask participants- “What is the gift you wish to give yourself from attending?” If you go to an audition or job interview I ask the same question- “What is the gift you can give yourself regardless of the outcome?’” And finally, when I make, buy, or find a gift for someone I ask the same question again- “What is the gift I am giving myself by giving this gift?” I ask these questions to myself all throughout the day. This practice of intention around gifting myself brings it back to me, where it belongs, where I am empowered for myself in anything I do, even in an act of generosity.

I must remember that even though I may be good at reading the needs and desires of others, if I choose to give to them, I am doing it as a gift I give myself.

From A Cry in the Desert: The Awakening of Byron Katie:by Christin Lore Weber:

 “…There is only serving. The only Joy is in the serving. I serve me first. If I serve you it is to serve me; I am so clear about not knowing what you need. It’s not my business to know what you need; it’s yours. You are responsible for fulfilling your needs. So if you need something, ask, and if I can supply that, then I do it, for me, because in the doing is my Joy. You’re there to show me my Joy so I can serve endlessly, effortlessly…”

ACTING LESSONS FOR LIVING is a gift I gave myself,

just as this blog is a gift. Please share it.

Enjoy the conversation it evokes.

This new book is a gift I give to my late mom and dad. It has many wonderful stories of things they gifted me with, especially wisdom. It is a gift to Joy, my beloved friend and teacher. It is a gift to all of the cast members who have been in my life, playing their roles perfectly. It is a gift to my husband as he has traveled with me these many years on my hero’s journey. And it is a gift to my son, Sasha, as a kind of legacy to him of my own distilled awarenesses.

What are the gifts you give yourself? How do you receive even as you give? You are facing a new year to incorporate this perspective.

ACTING LESSONS FOR LIVING is one of my favorite things,

and I hope it becomes one of yours.