A Gift for Myself

“What would it be like if I could go through this holiday season without needing others to appreciate me, without needing someone to say “thank you”, without needing others to be grateful towards me?”

This was a question posed on a coaching call last week. It resonated strongly with me. In others words: “Ouch!”.

Like the rest of you, I don’t necessarily do things just to be appreciated. I don’t necessarily do things expecting a “thank you”.  I don’t anticipate the glowing, “Oh my gosh, really, you shouldn’t have. It’s so beautiful; it must have taken you forever. I’ve never seen/received/been blessed with anything as thoughtful. I’ll never be able to thank you enough.” Blah, blah, blah.

I do, give, make because I want to. It gives me pleasure. It gives me satisfaction.

Yes, I have the other person in mind. I don’t offer my sister-in-law tickets to the opera.  I don’t give sugar-laden goodies to Jovanna. I don’t make butter cookies for vegan Margaret.  So, yes in that way it is also about the other person.

But I give because I want to. In some ways it is all about “me”!

How is it then, that when I give, I expect the other to respond according to my rules? This is a long-standing bug-bear in my family. One person – who shall remain nameless – is notorious for not saying “thank you”. Notorious for not remembering birthdays. Notorious for not noticing what others have done. The thing is, it’s not personal or specific to me. It is the way he operates in his world.

But, my rules say that you say “thank you”.  MY rules say you show appreciation. MY rules say you show gratitude.

But those are MY rules. And if I try to impose them on someone else, it totally takes away my joy. It steals my satisfaction. So now I’m pissed off and I no longer have the joy of having given, and that #($*@_@ person who didn’t follow my rules is oblivious. He/she is not suffering! I AM!

So, this holiday season, I will continue to work on letting go of my expectations of needing others to play by MY rules.  It’s not a matter of letting the other person off the hook. It’s a matter of letting myself off the hook: I am not hostage to rules that do not serve me. It is a gift to myself.

What gift will you give yourself this holiday season? I’d love to know.

picture from here

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2 Responses to A Gift for Myself

  1. Janice says:

    RULES…that word has come up a few times in the last little while for me and now here you are talking about them. Ok I hate RULES but I realize I have a lot of RULES for myself!
    RULE #1 I want my kids to come home and visit when they want to, NOT when the world at large says it is the appropriate time to show up and be a happy family loving each other and ME. I have always prided myself (trouble right there when I’m puffing myself up with Pride) on not pressuring my kids to visit for holidays. I wanted the “REAL THING” (what the fuck is that)….so over the years I have seen my kids happily share holidays with their significant other’s families and friends.
    RULE # 2 I want my kids home for Christmas. I want all of us together being the perfect, picture post card family. When did that RULE sneak in??? Has it been there all along tucked deep down in the dungeons of…I won’t be that not-perfect-mom! YIKES I think so,!#@*. Truth is, I just miss them all, which is fine. So this Christmas I am going to give myself the gift of missing them and being happy for who they are and how they are out there living their lives as they see fit. I will enjoy the two that are making it home and I will call and send love and good wishes to the two that are away. I will miss them and I will laugh and cry as the moment dictates and most importantly I will try not to beat myself up for having RULE #2 which of course it is the opposite of rule #1.
    That’s life.
    Merry Christmas Deb!!!!!

  2. Deb Reynolds says:

    Oh, Janice you made me laugh!! And isn’t it so true that life is full of contradictions?
    In reading your words, I had a bit of an “a-ha” moment: behind my rules are my stories. (Cuz my rules are about what should/shouldn’t happen, which are judgements, which are based on stories.) When Paul doesn’t say “thank you” for what I’ve done/given, he’s not being grateful (which may or may not be true, in fact). If he’s not grateful, then he doesn’t appreciate what I’ve done/given, which means he doesn’t appreciate me (see the story? But wait! there’s more!). So, I read the “not appreciating” as “not good enough”, which boils down to “not enough”. Which is what things almost always boil down to. Which is a story I can choose to believe and continue to tell, or not. Not.
    Merry, merry Christmas Janice – no matter who in in the house! x0x

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