A friend of mine shared with me, recently, on his healing path.
He had noticed that whenever a celebration day loomed close, he would feel anxious. Christmas for him was not a time of joy but more a time of great agitation. For years he had put his feelings down to social expectation due to over commercialisation of the holiday and would have left it there but for the fact that his birthday seemed to evoke the same emotional response.
In the weeks preceding either event, he would wake at night shaking and sweating. He’d have nightmares and be less productive at work and in his creative life. He noticed, around these times, his stress level would rise and his relationships become burdensome.
Pressure would continue to build until the day arrived, upon which he’d find himself sullen, moody and to a degree, unresponsive to others. These feelings escalated over the years.
In the beginning, he didn’t really notice this happening but rather put any changes in mood or surges of stress related anger down to the hectic nature of the day and the feeling he was under pressure to interact with others just because it was Christmas or his birthday. It was only after years of the
same behaviours that it dawned upon him something more might be at work in his psyche.
When he asked his wife what she thought, she was quick to point out that he did exhibit the same behaviour on both days and in weeks leading up to those days, every year without fail…she also mentioned that it was a terrible strain on her and the children and was glad he was looking into it!
My friend used meditation and continuous writing* to delve deeply into his feelings and over the course of a few weeks he discovered that he
held deep resentment incorporating his parents, gifts and celebration, that stemmed back to his early childhood.
He said, he couldn’t remember a single birthday or Christmas where his parents gave him what he wished for. Not only did they not give him things he wanted, they gave him presents that he didn’t like, had no interest in and didn’t know how to use.
Upon reflection he realised that this registered in his child’s mind as an act of non-care, as though they picked up the first thing they saw without
thinking about him at all. Even though this may not have been the case and in fact most probably wasn’t, it still registered as neglectful and unloving.
He had felt unheard, as though his parents didn’t have time nor inclination to get to know him, as though he was unworthy of their interest!
As well as the sadness this caused there was an anger and fear around receiving gifts due to the expectation of gratitude and appreciation his parents held as they watched him open a gift.
He told me that as a child, when it came time to opening presents he felt great anxiety, he feared what was under the wrapping and knowing he probably wouldn’t want or like it, would need lie to his parents so as to seem grateful.
As children we are reminded again and again NOT to lie and to always say thankyou!
Although there is merit in these values, they can become painful if the truth is not going to fall kindly on another or the truth involves, as is my friend’s
experience, NOT feeling grateful and not wanting to say thankyou.
There is no blame here as my friend realised through his healing, we do what we have been taught to do we are programmed beings!
This type of gift giving (with strings attached) is not uncommon it has been going on for as long as man has forgotten that he is inseparable from his brother.
To give and recieve can not be anything but the same energy when we remember that we are expressions of each other. When we give a gift to another we are literally giving to an aspect of self.
Ultimately we have the ability to sink into our true love and detach from outcomes yet give with all the best intentions.
My friends story is perfect for illustrating the importance of remembering to access the stillness inside, the space from which we can make pure, conscious choices.
It is a brilliant story to show the importance of listening to our children and of getting to know them. And finding the emotional maturity to allow them the freedom to express themselves without retribution should we not like what they say.
If we are self-loving and forgiving of our mis-takes in life, if we know that we act from our best intentions, even if they don’t always work out, we can be sure we have offered the best of us at the time.
Our children naturally appreciate our honesty and appreciation for life’s experiences.
One way to practise appreciation is by registering the thought behind the gift. For example, children can be the source of inherantly challenging yet whimsical gifts! And let me tell you, with eight kids I have had some doozies! Like a dirty pink hairband my two year old found in the playground; he handed it to me with such excitiement! I was looking at him and connecting so was able to acknowledge his intention to give this gift from his heart. I was able to hug him and express appreciation for his intention even though as soon as he turned his back the thing disappeared!
When we give a gift to another it is so much more than the thing we are giving. In fact it is always less about what we give than why we give it.
When we are personally aware we can give a gift with loving detachment.
Without expectation our gifts are filled with love and the recipient will, without a doubt, recognise the energy in the action.
If our gift is given with strings attached – as in an expectation of appreciation and pleasure, it is not really a gift but a bartering tool for love.
Getting to know each other is as simple as being prepared to breathe and relax when we are in each other’s company. When we are with people and especially our children it is an opportunity to practice eye contact and listening with the whole body not merely our ears.
It is awesome to create the intention to connect properly, to really get to know our family members. What a GIFT to offer more of ourselves at every encounter with another human being.
After all, each ounce of love and true connection we give another is love and connection we give ourselves.
Each day, as we commit to taking notice of our reactions, witnessing our thoughts and getting to know ourselves as my friend finally did when he resolved to heal his distress, is a day closer to true realisation of our divine connection to all that is.
So onward and UPWARD let every gift be true,
Until next time,
*continuous writing is when you take pen to paper and write everything that comes to mind without judgement. For example, on awakening from a disturbing dream I will often start to write out the content of my dream experience. I write without stopping everything that comes to mind including the emotions I felt during the dream. This will often lead to insights into my unconscious helping me bring awareness to habits and solutions for healing.
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