We just completed the first week of December and as our holidays get closer, we can begin to feel the emotional pull of the traditions of gift giving affect us. We are asked to bring gifts to almost everything we do this month, our company parties, luncheons, evening meetings, and extended family events all the way through the month of December, ending with our own personal celebrations at home.
To me, this is all daunting. The process of identifying if I am going to participate, and what I want to do, what I can afford, and the time it takes to get a gift, shipping gifts to distant family, all can be overwhelming, both emotionally and financially.
Basically, when it comes to the topic of gifts and gift giving, our ego engages and it is difficult to understand who is doing the managing. Our ego remembers the old holidays, the ways we felt, the great experiences, and the difficult experiences, the fun, and the exhilarations. When our ego and these memories are engaged and running the show, we find ourselves wanting to do the best we can to recreate that exhilaration and it often comes out in how we give to others.
Let’s look at a way to harness our run away emotions and triggers and take a grounded, soulful way to balance how we give and how we can provide service to address this holiday with the remaining time we have to prepare. I used to teach a workshop on simplifying the holidays and created a little worksheet that is easy to print off and a wonderful tool to use with the ones you love and will celebrate with this holiday.
First, lets take a look at the difference between wants and needs. When we WANT something, we are excited and animated; often our desire is bigger than life. We want things! For me, it is all about wanting a new pair of cool boots, or a new iPhone, and even lusting for a new car... get the idea? When I want, it is about what I see out there and what makes me feel good, what makes me feel excited, what makes me look good, what makes me feel loved and indulged. Basically what my ego wants.
When I shift into what I NEED this winter, I know there are things that would really help me with the day to day of the Montana winter that I often overlook. I know I need a good warm pair of snow boots so I can stay outside longer. I know my big warm jacket has a broken zipper. These are simple things that can enhance the way I take care of myself. And, I know I don’t really need much.
When we can shift the focus off of our exuberant wants and drop into what really matters, we ground in and really pay attention to who we are and what we feel inside. Then, when we look at giving a gift from a centered and grounded place, we see who the other person is, what they do, what they need, and how to be of assistance in helping them. We get out of impression gifting and into the intuitive gifting. When this happens, our relationships shift.
Now I am going to ask to go one step further. What if there is a way to feel all the excitement of ego and the warmth and loving of self-care at the same time? I believe this is possible when we can step deeper into ourselves and provide service to others in our community… when we give of ourselves with love and all the magic of the holidays.
Here is a fun, simple exercise for you to do with those you love. Print off the card below and make copies for all who are involved in your circle of celebration this holiday. Sit down together and have fun letting the wants run for a little while, and then shift down, into the needs.
Now here is the best part of the exercise. How will you give of yourself and be of service? Remember, this is the place where magic happens. This is a great way to shift the holidays with children and extend the spirit of giving into the whole month. When my kids were little, this is where they identified what they could do in our neighborhood to be of service. They listed shoveling snow for an elderly couple every morning when there was new snow so they could walk out and get their morning paper. They put a food box together and gave it to a family they knew needed help with the holidays. They purchased toys or coats and donated them.
If we can see this holiday as an opportunity to pay attention to ourselves and to others and take a look at who is struggling and what they truly need, we come from a place of love and compassion and our expectations fall into alignment. Digging deeper, in caring for ourselves, we are able to give our service to another, and we get back something even bigger. We get a sense of joy, we jump into the feelings of happiness and compassion.
So, this holiday, make your lists. Get honest with your wants and needs, and consider giving service to those who truly need help from us. Then see how this holiday feels.
Enjoy this week of exploring giving and service. Next week we're going to talk about Love Languages and renegotiations as the holidays draw closer.
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