For most of the planet, the end of a calendar year is a season for gift-giving. While the occasions may vary, the tradition of gifting is so prevalent that many industries rely on the end of the year for the bulk of their annual profits. This pursuit of profit has led corporations to become strong influencers of public behavior, and many people now view the holiday season as overly commercial. But let’s take it back to the basics and see what gift-giving is really about. In other words, why do we give gifts?
Gifts carry messages. Through them, we express love, give gratitude, show appreciation. They allow us to acknowledge what we treasure and to celebrate what we find miraculous. Regardless of the economic value, the gifts we give can convey to the recipients that we see their essence, understand their desires, and cherish their presence in our lives. Of course, when something becomes a tradition, it carries with it the risk of becoming just a thing to do, a routine. When that happens and people exchange gifts merely out of a sense of social obligation and without a true knowledge of, or, perhaps, care for the recipient, the power of the gift’s message is greatly dimmed. However, the message shines brightly when the gift is matched perfectly with the recipient and is based on a true understanding of the person’s interests, needs, and desires. Have you ever had that delicious experience of finding a meaningful gift for someone you care about and smiling as you imagine the person’s delight and satisfaction when they open it? This is the instance of gift-giving that is intentional, powerful, and heart-driven.
When we think about giving gifts, we typically imagine giving them to others. After all, it seems only natural. We have been taught that positive attention should be directed outward. In Russia (where I grew up), the word for I is Я (pronounced “Ya”). As in English, it is just one letter, but it happens to be the last letter of the alphabet. This fact has been turned into a phrase (akin to the phrase “there is no ‘I’ in team”) and is routinely used to teach Russian-speaking kids about the virtue of putting themselves last. When you put yourself last, the thought of doing something for yourself is almost blasphemous. But what if that approach is deeply misguided and damaging? What if we should start including ourselves among those to whom we direct positive attention?
While writing this blog, I tuned to my spirit guidance and received the following message: “The gifts you are discussing are of integral importance for they relate to the core value of what you carry within yourselves. You are the vessels of the most valuable substance on this planet – a soul. So when thinking about gifts, think about what resides within you and decide – is it worth knowing and honoring?”I believe it is. In fact, I would say that the gifts we give ourselves could be the most powerful because they are based on a deep understanding of ourselves and they allow us to honor the sacredness that lives within us. So take a moment to try something new. Tune in to yourself, acknowledge your inner needs and desires, and think about what would help you communicate to yourself that you are seen, heard, appreciated, supported, and loved. And then look for that gift as though you are looking for something special for someone that is truly important to you.