On Gifting

Some Thoughts on Gifting

I’m sorry it’s been so long … this post has been in the works for a while. I don’t like to send things out that aren’t rooted in love, so if I’m in a cranky place my work ends up substantially edited (or it just ends up the victim of the garbage icon).

This month’s insight section delves into some challenging subject matter, so I’d like to start by 1. letting you know that it has a happy ending, and 2. I’ve included cute bird pics between the paragraphs. Cute bird pics are VERY healing.

I’ve been thinking lately about the largest challenges my clients face when they come to the store, and I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the biggest blocks comes up when people are choosing materials to make something for someone else. The giving narrative is that giving is good, and that it’s going to make you feel good, but sometimes the process seems to drive people a little nuts. The truth is that generosity and altruism can also be accompanied by a lot of subconscious people-pleasing behaviour; a lot of insecurity, inadequacy, fear of being rejected, and at the core, beliefs about not being (good) enough, or being unlovable. These are really sensitive nerves, and when you brush up against them people fall out of the flow and life gets a lot more frustrating really fast.

Gratuitous cute bird shot

It manifests in all kinds of ways that trip us up. Our negative beliefs about ourselves can make a big mess in our relationships and undermine our own happiness. I see it all the time; it comes out as fear, perfectionism, indecisiveness, anxiety, etc. It disconnects us from ourselves and makes us emotionally unavailable. Now, please don’t assume that I’m somehow above it all, I’m not your omniscient narrator, I’m as deep in the muck as anyone else – working retail for a long time has just given me a more comprehensive view of the field (the crane shot, so to speak).

Helpful Insight #1: You are loved

It doesn’t matter what you make, or how it looks or fits or how much the receiver loves it. When you make something for someone else, regardless of its reception, you will always be loved. This is because you are loved because you are you. That’s it, it doesn’t matter how they feel about your gift, you will always, always, always be loved. And if the people in your life don’t have the capacity to love or to express love, that’s ok too, because you are still loved. And if you don’t believe that you are loved, or lovable – that’s ok, because beliefs aren’t real, they’re just arbitrary rules made up buy the human mind.

If you’re holding on to some old stories like these, are they serving you well? Do they make the experience that is your life fun, joyful, happy? If the answer is no, then they are no longer useful for you and you can give yourself permission to release them and move on. (If you can’t do that for yourself, then I give you blanket permission to let go of anything holding you down). Onward and upward!

After the photoshoot is when the real fun begins!

Helpful Insight #2: Let go of the Outcome

I feel like this applies to everything in life, but it works well in this context. At the start of a yoga class, a good instructor will remind you to ‘let go of the outcome’. For us, that means working on letting go of all your expectations that are invested in your project … which really means your expectations for yourself and for other people. This certainly falls into the ‘easier said than done’ department; recognizing and releasing this stuff is an ongoing project and a process. I used to have a boyfriend who when we fought would accuse me, saying “You have expectations!”, and I would reply, “I accept that, but I don’t know what they are!”. (He was kind of a putz, I leveled up). For me, recognizing my expectations for myself is a bit easier than my expectations for others, but I don’t think it really matters where you dive in, as long as you get wet.

Action shot

Helpful Insight #3: Fall Fast, Fall Forwards

The phrase is really “Fail fast, fail forwards”, but the term fail is REALLY loaded , and I feel in our culture falling is a better description. We all know that life on this planet isn’t about smooth sailing, and some endeavours are going to feel like belly-flops in one way or another.

1. When you fall you want to fall fast, pick yourself up, don’t sit in the mud ruminating on it. You’re wasting your life, you could be doing other things, learning new things. Moreover, sitting around feeling sorry for yourself because gravity expressed itself is going to make the experience into a bigger thing than it actually was, and increase the likelihood that it’s going to be harder to get out of the mud later. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, try to find the humour in it. After all, it’s only gravity, it’s only physics.

2. When you fall try to learn what you can from the experience and move on. Life is learning, all of the parts, even the uncomfortable experiences. If you learn from your experience you’ll have a better chance of not having to repeat it. So, when your project is a flop (as sometimes happens) – move on to the next, don’t spend the next 6 years trying to reinvent the wheel. Learn what you can, let it go, and move on.

Happiness is a plastic bag

Helpful Insight #4: Set Abstract Goals

Setting goals is very useful because it focuses you, it gets you moving and it gives you direction. People talk about setting ‘small, achievable goals’ (SAGs) – you know, the low hanging fruit, something that you can accomplish really easily and have a win in your pocket – they’re self-esteem candy. It is also important to set ‘Big Fat Hairy Goals’ (BFHGs), the ones you think are out of reach, the scary ones you’re resistant to. I believe the BFHGs are really important, they help you transcend your present and level up.

Now, nobody really talks about the quality of the goals people set. Concrete goals for things in the material world are great (for example “my goal is to wash the dishes”, “my goal is to get a better job”, etc), but the abstract, less tangible ones are just as important. Abstract goals include the really big asks that don’t have any grounding in the physical world, things that affect your paradigm, your worldview. I’m talking about goals like “my goal is to release scarcity and to live in abundance”, “my goal is to change my baseline to happiness”, “my goal is to release suffering and have a thriving, nurturing outlook.” I’m talking about *Seriously* Big Fat Hairy Goals, the things people rarely think to dream of, because they can’t even conceptualize that kind of change. These are the goals that are most neglected, but they’re also the stuff of miracles.

The abstract goal isn’t something you can draw up a five-point plan to accomplish within X amount of time, they are the stuff you have to let percolate (or marinate, or ferment), and let life bring the work to you. But, in this sense, they can be some of the easiest goals to achieve, because you don’t have to figure out how to do it or how it works, the opportunities will present themselves, you just have to go along with the flow and say YES to them.

I was at someone’s house, flipping through the book Conversations with God, and I came across the very astute statement that “change happens on the level of ‘believing’, not ‘doing'” (I’m paraphrasing). Or, if you want to get your metaphysics on, in Duality, Jeffrey Allen mentions that change is much faster and easier on the energy/conceptual level than it is in the physical/concrete world. This means that if you’re trying to execute all of your life changes exclusively on the concrete level, you’re going to have A LOT of heavy lifting to do, and it’s going to take a lot longer to accomplish much less. Move to the abstract level, and you can dump the heavy lifting.

So where does this fit in with the challenges of gifting? Well, changing your relationship with yourself is a pretty abstract concept. Most of you are probably going to have to file this advice under “listen now, believe later” (it’s a busy season in retail and I don’t have the time to pull out a bunch of science/Oprah Winfrey videos to back up my argument … but feel free to google “benefits of setting goals“… or “Oprah & setting goals“). That said, setting goals is basically a thought, which means it’s free, it’s easy, and you have absolutely nothing to lose. If, on the other hand, it works … well then, you have everything to gain, don’t you?

There’s just one more thing to keep in mind … people are really good at lying to themselves, we let our subconscious run the show and we don’t even know it. When you say to yourself “I want to be happy”, or “I want to be healthy”, really listen to the answer and try to assess how much of that is true. Our subconscious gets what it wants and it structures our lives around it’s beliefs. Listen to your body, it will tell you how you really feel about something. Right now, when I say to myself “I want my life to be joyful”, I do sincerely want that, but I also feel a heaviness in my chest, which is an insight that there’s still part of me that’s holding on to beliefs that block a joyful life. If I ask my intuition to put it into something concrete, I’m 89% positive on the subject, and 10% negative (I don’t know where the extra 1% went, the universe is weird, maybe it’s a remainder). So, I’m moving in the right direction, but I’ve still got some work to do – fair enough. I’ll set a goal to release whatever of it is ready to go.

Concluding thoughts

So where does this leave us with giving? Give freely, give generously, and give without expectation – for yourself or others. Sending your love and kindness out into the world is a gift for everyone, including yourself. And when you rub up against those sensitive spots, use it as an opportunity to release that stale old stuff. Those moments are telling you that you’re ready to move on to something new, to level up to something better – you just need to release the old to make room for marvelous new things to come!

Gru crashed the photo shoot

The bird pictures today are from this project, Hipster!

2 thoughts on “On Gifting

  1. Sandy Henshall

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing these thoughts. You have opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and looking at my reactions in a different way.

  2. Leslea Gordon

    Wow, you should be a writer Haley. This article touched me… I can relate to some of those human quirks we have as humans. Such wisdom with feeling, honesty and wit. The pictures of Gru are adorable… such an adorable friend.

    Thank you for that sunshine!

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