Gift giving … why do we do it?

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Are you going to buy a gift for your sweetheart? Why?

Gift giving can be a sticky situation. We worry about what the other person will like. We stress about how much to spend. A lot of that doubt and frustration can be eliminated by examining the motivation behind your gift giving.

Gift-giving stress can be relieved once you understand the motivation behind your gift giving. There isn’t a right or wrong motivation; be honest with yourself. I could care less whether you give a gift out of spite or out of love or to be liked. What I do care about, however, is that you have alignment.

Alignment … blah, blah, blah, life-coachy jargon, right? Well, here’s why alignment is important.

Let’s say you’re giving a gift out of spite — maybe to prove you’re the bigger person — but you haven’t admitted it to yourself. You’re probably going to resent the expense. You’re going to be torn about what to buy. You don’t want to get something too good. You also don’t want to overcompensate, because you’ve given this rotten person enough already. So which gift is going to send the message you want to send to this person?

Generally speaking, most people don’t like these thoughts because they aren’t “nice”. We try to ignore them, yet they are still there below the surface of our thoughts creating this generic feeling of stress around the gift. That stress is how you know you’re not in alignment; your primitive Caveman Brain sees this person as the enemy, while you’re Advanced Brain is trying to create all these stories to ignore the feeling or make it seem more appropriate and palatable.

Yet you can’t stop the Caveman Brain. It is doing what it is supposed to do. It keeps us safe by identifying enemies, but it’s too primitive to distinguish between the threat of a real wound or an emotional wound. So it’s best to just recognize the spiteful feeling in the Caveman Brain, because you can’t stop it. But instead of reacting like a Caveman (or Cavewoman), start to work with the Advanced Brain.

Once you admit to yourself that you’re giving a gift out of spite, your Advanced Brain can stop spinning all those stories and justifications. That’s when you can be really clear about how much you’re willing to spend. Maybe you won’t give the gift at all, and you want to end the relationship. Or maybe you’ll give the best gift you can think of because you’re REALLY out to prove yourself. Perhaps you want to transform the relationship, and your gift will reflect that change.

The Advanced Brain is where we can solve our problems or find the perfect gift … with creativity and intellect. But that can only happen if it’s clear and in alignment with what we really value and want out of a relationship and our life.

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