We all love receiving presents. They are tokens of friendship: the cookies you bake and give to neighbors; tokens of caring, such as the book of poetry you give to your boyfriend. In some ways, presents signify our worthiness, as in being the worthy recipient of gifts from others: the locket your husband gives you, the potholder made for you with love by your granddaughter, the camisole given shyly by your partner. Sometimes gifts are even necessary, such as the money you may give your children.
Gifts connect us to others
Giving and receiving gifts are ways we connect with others, from the packet of family recipes you receive from your mother to the oil change your daughter gives you for your car. Gifts connect us to each other by saying, “I know you; we belong together; I care; I see what you need; your needs are important to me; you are valued.” And we all need connection.
Gifts are fun
Not to mention that gifts are fun—the festive, maybe even inventive, wrappings and bows and the thoughts behind them; the understanding that someone cares enough to think about what you may like, may need, what will make you feel special. Yes, there is an element of caring, even love, in every gift you receive.
Gifts can connect us to ourselves
And in this season of giving, hopefully you have you on your own list, giving something to yourself that you may want and may even need.
There are some things only we can give ourselves.
You may decide to make sure you receive exactly what you want and give yourself presents that are material, tangible reminders that you do care for yourself, that you value yourself, even if they require that you make sacrifices, well, for yourself.
Your self-gifting might include splurging to buy those jeans in the right cut and color, those earrings with just the perfect bling, that lipstick and nail polish that match just so, but these aren’t the only things you can give yourself.
You can also give yourself intangible gifts, such as relief from those thoughts and feelings that disconnect you from yourself, thoughts for which you pay a high price, thoughts that weigh you down and cause you to doubt yourself (or worse, hate yourself)
Give yourself the gift of releasing your girly thoughts.
Gifting yourself through connecting . . . to you:
This is a time of year to begin to envision what your life would be like without your girly thoughts, those thoughts that demand you act within a very narrow band of acceptable looks and acceptable behavior, and promise dire consequences when you do not. A special gift to give yourself is to play with the possibilities of how wonderful your life can be when you free yourself from needing to be someone you are not.
Try these simple steps:
- Begin to play with the possibilities . . .
- Stay in touch with how you feel, not just with what you need to do. Listen to your inner voice. I know that what you need to do voice is the louder voice, especially now, but experiment with turning up the volume on your feeling voice.
- Make a note on your phone or your computer, even on a piece of paper, about your feelings, and if you have time, about what you like and what you don’t.
- Experiment with sharing how you feel with someone you trust, at least once, maybe even twice.
It’s easy to tell yourself “I don’t have time,” but you’re making time to read this, aren’t you? Guaranteed you have another five minutes in your day, somewhere, and giving yourself this time can be a gift in and of itself. And just imagine for a moment how much more connected to you will feel to you!
Now that’s some gift!
Patricia A. O'Gorman, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice. She is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and amusing presentations that make complex issues accessible and even fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations across the country in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O'Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from director of a rape crisis center to clinical director of a child welfare agency, and director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). She is a veteran of numerous television appearances, including Good Morning America, Today, and AM Sunday and is the author of eight books including: The Girly Thoughts 10 Day Detox Plan (2014), The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (2013), and Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting (2012) 12 Steps to Self-Parenting.